March 11, 2012

The Dog Fight At Noe Courts Continues


Dog owners have been fighting for equal, safe and clean access to Noe Courts since the late 1980s when the perimeter fence was installed. In 1997, Parks and Rec tried to ban dogs altogether but relented and allowed dogs as long as they remained on leash. That leash law has remained a bone of contention ever since. Fast forward to last week when one dog owner fired off this email to Scott Wiener:
Dear Mr. Wiener:

If you think I was upset about the park work trucks digging up the grass, I am now outraged by the fact that we are being harassed by Park Rangers again. It has been over two years since we dog owners complained about the park rangers enforcing a leash law that has been contested for years and thought it was resolved and that this had been put to rest.

As a homeowner who pays outrages taxes and does not use the schools and any county services to speak of, let alone getting much for my taxes at all, I feel taking my dogs to Noe Courts is my privilege and I have paid more than enough for the privilege. This city can't keep our roads up, provide decent public schools or keep drunks from living on the streets, but you can pay for Park Rangers to police a tiny little neighborhood park. Our park is a disgrace because of maintenance and the only way we can upgrade it is if we citizens file for and get grants to upgrade, but the city can spend money on rent-a-cops.

Parents with children and their dogs use Noe Courts because of it's multi-use grounds. I know you are going to say there is Douglas Park for dogs, but there are too many dog walkers and some very nasty dogs that I do not want to expose my dogs to.

[The above picture shows] some of the criminal dogs who frequent this park.

I expect to continue to use Noe Courts with my dogs and will fight this tooth and nail.

[Ed.--email reprinted with permission as long as writer remains anonymous]
Scott's response:
I agree that Noe Courts is an amazing neighborhood park, and a lot of us are hoping to make it even better. While I agree that enforcement of the leash laws needs to be judicious, I disagree that park rangers shouldn't go to neighborhood parks. We do a very poor job enforcing park rules (quite apart from the leash laws), and we need more park patrol attention, not less. Again, this is with respect to park rules generally. With respect to leash laws, I do agree that we need to be thoughtful in our enforcement and not clamp down. With that said, there are situations when too many off-leash dogs in an on-leash park can cause operational difficulties. It's all about balance and good judgment in enforcement.
So... expect the battle for use of this small neighborhood park to continue.

[NVV: Neighbors in a Dogfight Over Noe Courts]

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Disappointed in Scott's response. What is the point of having laws on the books that are not enforced?

He should have told this entitled professional complainer to take a hike.

If the leash law is bad policy, change it. If it's good policy, enforce it.

Paying property taxes does not give a person the right to get pissed off when he gets cited for breaking the law. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Next to bike riders on Valencia St. dog owners are the MOST self entitled selfish people in SF. I am constantly cleaning up dog shit on the sidewalk directly in front of my house that I own in NV, and there are tons of dog owners walking their dogs day in nite in my area with dogs NOT on a leash.

Bring in MORE park rangers. Impose fines.

Many, but not all, dog owners are lazy and selfish.

Anonymous said...

I am also a dog owner and while I understand the desire for off leash I think there is a compromise that can be made. Why not enclose a portion of the park and make it dog friendly and designated as off leash?

I also understand the complaint of the lady who has dog poop in front of her house often. So many dog owners are lazy. If you forget your dog bags then go home and return to pick it up! Better yet train your dog to go in certain areas. I know I have done just that. Don't be selfish and give us dog owners a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if all those nasty dogs are on leash then it wouldn't be a problem. One person's precious is another person's nasty. Just because your dogs can't get along with others doesn't mean every other green space has to be covered in dog urine.

Since I don't have kids who use schools and only have one indoor cat, maybe I should whine about the city not handing out free litter. I sure pick up other people's dog shits enough for that privilege!

Anonymous said...

Next to bike riders on Valencia St. dog owners are the MOST self entitled selfish people in SF. I am constantly cleaning up dog shit on the sidewalk directly in front of my house that I own in NV.

That has nothing to do with selfish. I trained my dog to poop in front of your house, cranky Noe Neighbor...

Anonymous said...

I agree. Wiener's response was inappropriate for a city official. If it is a law, then enforce it. My dog is always on a leash, and I expect other dogs to be on a leash AND under control by their owners. This rarely is the case in SF and it's getting intolerable. We all pay taxes, we all get to share the public parks, equally.

Anonymous said...

Seriously agree with all the comments above. Enforce the laws, or change them!

As for the photo evidence provided by the disgruntled tax payer - the muddy ruined turf is proof enough that this patch of grass is too small to handle the volume of off-leash play it currently sees. As for it being multi-use (kids & dogs), it actually doesn't work out so great. The dogs used to off-leash play there will chase & snap & interfere with any kids playing catch. I've seen kids give up & leave because it's impossible to play there. My kids have been knocked down and stepped in dog crap because - surprise surprise! - when dogs are off leash the owners don't have to pay attention & often stand together deep in conversation totally unaware of when or where their dog is defecating. This park is a disgusting mess because of the illegal abuse of it's space and deserves more respect so everyone can use it again.

Love the solution that has been implemented at Eureka Rec Center and Noe Rec Center - which are similarly sized multi-use fields: They have a designated (grass-free) fenced in dog, and consequently clean nice turf for human recreation. Wish this could happen at Noe Courts.

murphstahoe said...

the muddy ruined turf is proof enough that this patch of grass is too small to handle the volume of off-leash play it currently sees

The muddy ruined turf is only proof that the drainage for this site is insufficient. There are plenty of counterexamples where there is substantial off leash dog activity and the turf survives because the ground can drain. The grass holds up just fine in the summer.

Love the solution that has been implemented at Eureka Rec Center and Noe Rec Center - which are similarly sized multi-use fields: They have a designated (grass-free) fenced in dog, and consequently clean nice turf for human recreation.

Without defending the current circumstance - this would be a non-starter. The dogs - and thus the dog owners - hate that material they used for those facilities. At Noe Courts, where do you put the dog run? On the flat part of the grass? Leaves no flat spot for the kids. The basketball court? The tennis court? It would be a war of the roses. Not that it isn't already...

Anonymous said...

A small child is no match for even one large agresssive off leash dog.I don't remember hearing about dogs being injured by toddlers, yet papers are full of the sad stories of unsuspecting dog owners who were caught off guard by their dog's behavior injuring a child.

This small patch of green in the heart of Noe Valley needs to be a safe place for little children and if that means no off leash or a designated dog run---then so be it.

Anonymous said...

Next to bike riders on Valencia St. dog owners are the MOST self entitled selfish people in SF

A cyclist is no match for even one large motor vehicle.I don't remember hearing about motor vehicles being injured by cyclists, yet papers are full of the sad stories of unsuspecting motor vehicle owners who were caught off guard by their car's behavior injuring a cyclist.

This small patch of bike lane in the heart of the Mission needs to be a safe place for cyclists and if that means no double parked motor vehicles or a designated car lane ---then so be it.



Face it - you all see the problems only through your own eyes.

Anonymous said...

We all pay taxes, including for schools, not for our own children but to help educate the greater citizenry, regardless of the affiliation to me, myself, or I.

As for the comment above mine, you have the analogy askew. The proper corollary from dog/baby would be cyclist/pedestrian.

Also, the person who teaches his/her dog to defecate in front of people's houses, I've seen you or your brethren in front of my house and have never met you nor have I ever been described as cranky. Why would you do something so gross as to leave your animal friend's stool in front of your fellow SF-er's house? Just because 'who cares what I do, someone else can clean up the mess?' Makes me want to pay more taxes for better schools.

Anonymous said...

As for the comment above mine, you have the analogy askew. The proper corollary from dog/baby would be cyclist/pedestrian.

Proving my point "Face it - you all see the problems only through your own eyes."

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear. With regard to the cylist comment I made, I am NOT referring to any engagement or discussion between a car and a bike. I am referring to the many selfish cyclists who will give you the finger ANY time you get in their way, and who will not hesitate to fly thru a stop sign or stop light, even when I am in the cross walk. Happens all the time. That's what self-entitled is referring to.

As to the dog owner who does in fact let his dog shit on the sidewalk in front of my house or anyones house for that matter, trust me, If I catch you, that same dog shit will be ground into your front steps or door handle on your house. Beware. And start cleaning up after your dog.

Anonymous said...

My dog can't shit on your sidewalk - your car is parked on it.

Anonymous said...

No, my car is in my garage where it should be. Unlike MANY of my other neighbors on my street whose garage is full of junk and crap they don't need so they have to park over the sidewalk.

Anonymous said...

OK, when my dog shits on your sidewalk, I'll pick it up and smear it on their cars.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, is this what the conversation about dogs in a small park has come to? People who don't even know each other throwing S**t around. Come on folks. How about some positive ideas?

Anonymous said...

I am a dog owner in Noe Valley and find the "regulars" (dog owners) there to be very judgmental and entitled.

Most importantly I could not help to be almost shocked at their lack to regard to their off leash dogs during their Friday wine happy hours.

I agree that dogs should not be off leash at Noe Courts and that it is much better suited for children. Perhaps yes we can section off a dog run similar to Joby's on 30th street, but without having a specific area fenced in completely for dogs only, dogs should stay on a leash.

It's true that there are numerous other dog parks within the area that are much safer for off leash dogs.

murphstahoe said...

"it is much better suited for children"

As a parent, I don't get this - at least regarding the grassy section. A big chunk of the grassy section has a steep slope and is basically useless. Much of the rest of it is rutted and potholed and this is not because of the dogs, it is because of the poor drainage of the property. Further from the tennis courts where the drainage problem is less severe, the grass is not beat up, and plenty of dogs use that area.

A large portion of the grassy area abuts a tall stone wall so it's not like you can really play baseball or soccer on it without sending balls into the street.

If there were no dogs at all, the kids would still play on the tennis court.

One argument neglected in all this is that the dog owners - attracted by the de-facto off leash policy - provide a useful service. I am there at or before 6 AM every morning, and I don't see any children there, but I do occasionally see homeless people sleeping in the park. They quickly figure out that they will be awakened very early by dogs sniffing at them, and they don't come back.

The dog owners also make trips after dark and keep a lid on the kids who come to drink and party in the park - also a presence that comes and goes.

Needles and broken beer bottles are a much bigger problem for toddlers than dog poop. Compliance on dog poop pickup is very high or you'd be stepping in it all the time, and I for one am always actively looking for "strays".

As both a parent and a dog owner, I think the informal off leash policy is fine for this less than perfect space. And opinions are like...

Anonymous said...

OMG, March 14, 2012 3:54 PM ! Entitled? In Noe Valley?

Anonymous said...

Good for Scott. What a entitled whiner the letter writer is. Do they drive on city roads? Do they walk on city sidewalks? Do they enjoy the city owned trees? Then you are using city and county resources. Get over yourself and stfu!

Anonymous said...

It is really tough to have much sympathy for dog owners. The rules have been clear for quite awhile; dogs are supposed to be on leashes. The rest of us who want to be able to use city facilities without fear of being harassed or attacked by an off-leash dog would really appreciate it if you dog owners would just obey the rules. If you can't follow the rules, don't have a dog. It is just that simple.

Anonymous said...

As a dog owner who lives around the corner from this park, I'm actually not wild about the off-leash laxness there. I see a lot of people who really do the "set it and forget it" approach to their dogs there, which kind of ruins it for others.

I almost never have my dog on leash, she's very well behaved, but because that's my preference I make sure I know which park areas are on-leash and off-leash. I think that the strict letter of the leash law actually distracts from responsible pet management. It comes down to is my dog behaved in a manner that is polite and appropriate (no unwanted advances, under clear voice control, etc.), am I cleaning up after her and most importantly, am I using public spaces the way they are designed and intended to be used. That's the key point to me - I may pass through an on-leash park briefly on a walk, but I avoid using it as an all purpose play area for my dog. It's about the space being used as intended, my dog can walk through the park as if on leash, but I'm not going to use it as an all purpose play area with all that comes with it.

There's no shortage of good parks for off-leash dogs in the area. While I'm a proponent of reasonable allotment of quality off-leash areas, I don't think that means every small green-space should be a de facto dog park. We all have to share spaces and make reasonable allowances for our various preferred uses. Just because I own a dog and that park is really convenient to me doesn't mean I deserve to have it be an off-leash park, which to me is what that letter is saying. Sure, I'd love it if that particular park was one big doggie play area, but it's not. So out of respect to my neighbors who choose not to have dogs, I go to areas designated for me and my dog.

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. Of course dogs should be on leashes. They should be on leashes all of the time if you ask me. The compromise is to have certain areas where off leash dogs are fenced off so the rest of us don't have to deal with them, which the city already provides. If you can't deal with keeping your dog on a leash, go to jail, do not pass go and do not bore the rest of us with your incessant whining about how you and your dog deserve special treatment and are above the law.