OAKLAND -- The Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission will again consider the location of a new dog play area in Oakland at its Wednesday meeting.
Residents of 200 Lakeside Drive opposed the idea of Snow Park as an option and voiced their disapproval at an April 10 forum sponsored by the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department at the Lake Merritt Garden Center.
About 80 residents filled the meeting hall. Part of the meeting was devoted to designs for a play area in the city, but Lakeside Drive residents said it's premature to talk about a design before an environmental assessment is done.
"It's very cart-before-the-horse," said Shannon Rubicam, the homeowners association president for 200 Lakeside Drive. The building is less than a block from the park, which is at the intersection of Harrison and 20th Streets.
For months, residents have argued whether Astro Park would be a good home for Oakland's next dog play area, and the council hasn't decided the issue. At the April 10 forum the city allowed time for residents to share ideas for the best location of a play area, whether Astro Park, Snow Park or another park.
Before other council votes on the dog park issue, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC) heard the proposal on Astro Park. The commission forwarded the Astro Park proposal to the Planning Commission, which voted down the proposal. But the Oakland Dog Owners Group (ODOG) appealed that decision to the council.
At the April 10 forum, Rubicam said the play area would be unattractive, dogs would bark all day and the smell of dog urine would linger continually -- all factors that could lower property values at 200 Lakeside Drive. Their concerns are "visual, sonic and smell," Rubicam said.
Other residents such as Teresa Jackson favor a play area at Snow Park, which is walking distance from Jackson's Uptown home. And Barbara Fleming, who lives on 19th Street, said dogs already play at Snow Park, so "why not make it legal?"
Oakland prohibits dogs in parks, but residents can request an exception to the ordinance. Attendees of the meeting said the larger issue of dogs in parks needs to be addressed. PRAC will take up the dog play area issue again at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lake Merritt Garden Center, 666 Bellevue.
The city is enlarging Snow Park as part of the Lakeside Green Streets Project, which has improved the walking and recreation areas around Lake Merritt. The construction of the play area can be added to the project, said John Hykes, a consultant for the city with The Planning Center/DC&E.
Hykes said the dog play area will cost between $150,000 and $250,000, and the size of the play area would be about 25,000 square feet.
Emily Rosenberg, co-founder of ODOG, said almost 50 percent of the households in Oakland have a dog, and there is almost no accommodation for them. Currently, the city has two-and-a-half acres of off-leash space, with more than 1,000 acres of parks.
"It needs to happen somewhere," Rosenberg said of the dog play area, "and it needs to happen soon."