Dog owners in San Anselmo can rest easy for a little longer. The San Anselmo Town Council was evenly split Tuesday night, July 26, between expanding off-leash dog usage in town parks and vastly limiting off leash, so the rules will stay the same instead -- at least for a few more months.
Last summer, and limited off leash dog use to between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to closing (30 minutes after sundown) on weekdays and just from 4 p.m. to closing on weekends. Dogs are allowed on leash at all times the park is open.
In January, the town also . Off leash dogs were banned from the picnic and Millennium Park areas and the council approved a continuation of the hours for off leash dog use from 7 to 8 a.m. and after one hour before sunset on weekdays and extended the morning hours until 9 a.m. on weekends.
At that time, the council decided to review the rules in six months. Six months was up Tuesday night, July 26.
Though the council also discussed a and budget deficit Tuesday night, the most controversial and flammatory issue of the night was off leash dogs.
Over an hour and half of public comment was evenly split between residents concerned about the noise, litter and nuisance of off leash dogs and residents who said they saw no problem with dogs being allowed off leash.
“I think the park can be shared by everyone,” said Ross resident Anne Brenner, who was one of a who uses and said they always pick up after their dogs and haven’t seen the excessive barking that has been complained about.
In fact, some of them said, it was just a couple neighbors upset.
“There are two people who are absolutely psychotic about this park,” said Michael Hollander, spurring a bout of yelling and finger-pointing in the audience.
Other said they felt that dogs off leash were ok, but not near kids and family activities. The off leash dogs, they pointed out, might be discouraging some people from using the parks.
“I take my dogs off leash all the time, I just take them to places more appropriate than places that have families and kids,” said Matt Brasler.
“Prioritize people use of your parks instead of dog use,” said Valerie Rogers, who said she had a neighbor on the East Coast whose kid had his face torn off by a friendly off leash dog.
Council Members Barbara Thornton and Kay Coleman appeared to be in favor of limiting off leash dog use to – an open space area – and to the . Staff noted that San Anselmo is the only town in Marin that allows dogs off leash in town parks outside of designated fenced dog runs or dog parks. San Anselmo also doesn’t have a leash law within town, noted Parks and Recreation Commissioner Doug Kelly, so residents can walk their dogs off leash and then get to the park and have to make a decision.
Thornton and Coleman also appeared to be in favor of considering a leash law throughout town.
Vice Mayor Tom McInerney, , said he felt there were no real problems with use at , though he was more torn over Robson-Harrington.
McInerney also noted that some of the issues regarding noise and dog poop are dog issues not off leash dog issues.
“Do dogs poop and pee less if they’re on a leash?” he asked.
Mayor Ford Greene said that he felt things were going ok the past six months and compromise was important.
“No one side should get everything they want,” said Greene.
Since Council Member Jeff Kroot recused himself because he lives too close to Robson-Harrington, the issue was left unresolved.
The rules will come back for review in September or October.