Make no bones about it: San Carlos dog owners want the city to create off-leash dog play areas in city parks, and they are willing to fetch enough money to make it happen.
The newly formed San Carlos Dog Owners Association recently submitted a proposal asking the city to set up dog play areas in as many as six parks. Association leader Kim Haddad said about 500 residents, many of whom own a dog, signed a petition supporting the proposal.
The city does not have a dog park, and owners must keep their pups on a leash in public areas. Residents often travel to dog parks in nearby San Mateo, Belmont and Foster City to let their pets run free.
"Dog owners really like to see their dogs play off-leash," said Haddad, a San Carlos veterinarian who has four dogs. "It's also a chance for people to socialize."
City officials have responded favorably to the proposal. The city Parks and Recreation Commission will focus on what it would take to establish a dog play area at the 3.8-acre Vista Park, located on Crestview Drive between Club Drive and Marigold Lane, Parks and Recreation Director Doug Long said. The play area's size has not been determined but likely would be less than an acre, he added.
Because the city cannot afford to supply the necessary fences and materials for a dog play area and maintain it, the dog owners association might need to raise $100,000 to $150,000, he said.
"It's one of the few projects where you can get volunteers to consistently lend a healthy hand," Long said. "These dog parks are incredible."
Haddad said she is confident that the group could raise the money through private donations and business sponsorships.
If everything comes together, Long said, a dog play area could open at Vista Park in 18 to 24 months.
In addition to 6-foot-high fences, waste bag stations and benches would be needed for the dog-play area. Rules would be posted indicating that dogs must be vaccinated and nonaggressive and that owners must clean up after their pets. Dog owners would provide most of the maintenance and supervision, and the play area likely would be free.
Haddad said she is disappointed that officials mostly shot down proposals to install dog play areas at five other parks: Arguello, Heather, Burton, Crestview and Highland.
"(Vista) is up on the top of the hill, and a lot of people don't live up there," she said, adding that the park could get overused if it is the only one with a designated area for dogs.
Long said the city thought converting part of Vista would be less intrusive to the surrounding neighborhood than other park areas, since it does not have playground equipment or fields and typically attracts walkers.
"It seems like a good marriage," Long said.