Supes jump into dogfight over GGNRA restrictions

A group of San Francisco supervisors Tuesday announced their opposition to proposed regulations that would sharply reduce the areas within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where residents can walk their dogs.

Supervisor Katy Tang introduced a resolution with the support of supervisors Norman Yee, Scott Wiener, David Campos, London Breed, John Avalos and Mark Farrell opposing the move by the National Park Service to restrict dog access in areas including Ocean Beach, Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Lands End, Sutro Heights Park and Fort Funston.

Tang said:

“I am disappointed that, despite strong opposition to the proposed plan to restrict on and off-leash dog walking in our urban parks, GGNRA has decided to move forward with a plan that would eliminate over 75 percent of Ocean Beach for use by residents and visitors with dogs.”

Tang noted that the proposal would affect those without dogs as well as dog owners, because it would force more dog owners to use city parks.

The proposed new rules for dog management, announced last month, designate 22 locations for dog walking within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, only seven of which would allow off-leash dogs. Park officials say dog walking would be allowed on almost one-third of the park’s beaches, mostly off-leash, and one-third of park trails, although specific areas would be designated for commercial dog walkers.

Park officials say the rules are intended to balance the needs of different groups of users, protect natural and cultural resources including shorebirds and other wildlife and provide a safer experience for everyone.

They have described the GGNRA as the most “dog-friendly national park in the United States.” Groups representing dog owners, including SFDOG and Save Our Recreation, say the park service proposal would reduce the areas available to dog owners to just one-tenth of 1 percent of the GGNRA.

Sally Stephens of SFDOG said:

“This is not a compromise; this is a strategy to effectively keep people out of this recreation area in an effort to turn this recreation area into a wilderness area.”

The GGNRA extends from Marin County south to San Mateo County, and supervisors in those counties have also gone on record opposing the proposed regulations, as have elected officials including U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier.

Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, noted last week that the proposal left no off-leash areas in the entire San Mateo County portion of the GGNRA.

Wiener noted that he has personally authored two previous resolutions opposing the proposed restrictions:

“I’m not sure how many times we have to say no before the federal government will listen.”

The proposed rule for dog management is open for public comment through May 25 at regulations.gov. Public meetings will be held in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, and comments can also be submitted by mail to Superintendent, GGNRA, Dog Management Proposed Rules, Building 201, Fort Mason, San Francisco CA, 94123.