Santa Monica’s Recreation and Parks Commission voted to open up Airport Park’s off-leash dog area to non-Santa Monica residents for a six-month period so data can be collected on its use.
There has been controversy regarding the dog area ever since Airport Park opened on April 29 because, like other off-leash dog areas in Santa Monica, it is only open for use for dogs owned by Santa Monica residents. Mar Vista dog owners who live near the park have been particularly upset. The Mar Vista Community Council’s Board of Directors passed a resolution on May 8 calling for Santa Monica to “reconsider its ban on Mar Vista dogs” and open the dog area “to all licensed dogs regardless of their city of origin.”
As of July 19, it appears they will be getting their wish. After debating whether a fee should be charged to Los Angeles residents to use the park, the Commission agreed with Commissioner Ted Winterer that it was worth “opening it up” with no fees for six months so the City could “get the data” on who would be using the park.
Commission Chair Susan Cloke felt there would be too much “bureaucracy to set up a fee for just six months.
The City’s Director of Community and Cultural Services, Barbara Stinchfield, explained, “It would be a lot of work for staff to put in a fee system” for six months. She also noted that by waiting on a fee the decision would “come in sync with setting next year’s budget.”
In an interview with the Mirror, Karen Ginsberg, the City’s Assistant Director of Community and Cultural Services, pointed out that the City’s “practice has been since the park opened for non-residents not to be cited.” Right now, “Animal control is informing dog owners where the City is in the process.”
Los Angeles Councilmember Bill Rosendahl told the Mirror, “I have been going by the park at least twice a day, sometimes four times a day, because it’s right on my way, and I always look to see how many dogs are there. I’ve been very upset because there have been very few Santa Monica dogs there. I’m happy [to hear of the Commission’s vote] since it shows the City appreciates the fact to make the park effective you have to let other dogs in. I look as this as a symbolic gesture of both Santa Monica and Los Angeles cooperating on other issues.”
The Commission’s recommendation will be reviewed by the City Council in September.