At a meeting of the Mar Vista Community Council on May 8, Santa Monica City officials described the steps they are taking to help make it possible for Mar Vista residents to use the off-leash dog area at the new Airport Park.
At this time, a Santa Monica ordinance restricts the use of Santa Monica off-leash dog parks to only Santa Monica licensed dogs with current-year tags. Barbara Stinchfield, the City of Santa Monica’s Director of Community and Cultural Services, explained that the ordinance was put in place “a number of years ago when the City had very few off-leash areas” and didn’t want outsiders coming in and causing Santa Monica residents to be excluded. The fine for violating this ordinance is $130. However, since the Mar Vista dog owners are upset, the City is trying “to come up with a resolution in the short term.”
The steps the City is taking toward that solution include monitoring of the Airport Park’s off-leash dog area by the City’s park rangers, animal control officers and groundskeepers and sending out a questionnaire to Santa Monica licensed dog owners to help project the park use for next year. They also will be listening to suggestions from Mar Vista residents and Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl. The City staff will then present a proposed solution to the City’s Recreation and Parks Commission on June 21, and present a recommendation for the City Council’s review at the end of July.
Originally, the City had proposed having a pilot program for a year whereby 15 dogs from Mar Vista would be permitted to use Airport Park’s off-leash area, but that program was deemed unacceptable by those who live in Mar Vista.
The Mar Vista Community Council unanimously voted to request that the City “reconsider its ban on Mar Vista dogs” at the park.
Prior to the council’s vote they heard from the community, which was overwhelmingly in favor of allowing Mar Vista residents access to the dog area. One Mar Vista resident named Janet summed up the sentiment when she stated to a round of applause, “I’m not aware of any restrictions to Santa Monica residents” in using Los Angeles’ park facilities including dog parks “and I really don’t understand why you restrict Los Angeles residents. It’s called a good neighbor policy. Santa Monica is more concerned about their own issues than being a good neighbor.”
Los Angeles resident David Stefan was the only person to express a different opinion. He told the crowded room, “This is not a park for Santa Monica residents. It’s a park for Santa Monica City taxpayers. Santa Monica doesn’t owe you the time of day.”