Reed Park may one day be the site of a neighborhood off-leash dog park after Council directed staff Tuesday to begin exploring the feasibility of such a project.
Councilmember Phil Brock said this week the idea initially came up in 2007 or 2008 in the Recreation and Parks Commission.
“We tried other things there, but every day when I’m on a walk anywhere in north Santa Monica, I see dogs and their owners out, and I get constant discussions about Rosie’s Dog Beach and the fact that there’s not one dog park in north Santa Monica whatsoever,” Brock said, listing the few places around Santa Monica that allow dogs to run freely. “We have no prospects of finding park space in North Santa Monica at all, yet we have a huge number of dog owners so it’s worth exploring.”
Mayor Sue Himmelrich agreed after she noted that the closest dog park to her is on 14th street near Colorado Avenue.
“So, people have been talking to me for years about the possibility of having a dog park in Reed Park. I don’t know if it’s practical; I don’t know if there’s space; I don’t know if it is financially feasible,” Himmelrich said. “But I’m interested in looking at whether it is so that is why I personally am supporting this item.”
Himmelrich shared she wasn’t expecting the project to come to fruition this year. “I understand our financial circumstances, and people are certainly more important than dogs to all of us,” she added.
“I don’t see this as an existential emergency either,” Brock said, informing staff he believes the process would be simple enough to approximate costs without a park planner, a position the City is currently without.
But Santa Monica Democratic Club President Jon Katz called in during public comment to pick a bone with the proposal because he and a few peers in the city don’t think the process will be so simple when you consider what could happen to the unhoused residents who sleep in Reed Park because they have nowhere else to go.
“In light of what happened in Echo Park in Los Angeles last month, I’m asking you to direct staff to plan ahead with outreach to the homeless individuals who are living in the park, and this does not need to involve the police department,” Katz said. “Ideally, this can be an opportunity to find permanent housing for these people, but what we can’t do is clear out encampments with reckless abandon…. If we can make space for our canine residents to travel freely, surely we can do the same for our human ones.”
Councilmember Kevin McKeown thanked Katz for how he addressed the matter and shared his hope that Council direction will include a little more exploration than just the feasibility and cost of this proposal.
“I hope we’ll also study what the effect will be on the people who are in the park now… and where those other users of the park might be displaced to in the neighborhood,” McKeown said. “And I’d also like to hear from the neighborhood about having a dog park because I know when the Joslyn Park was put in… that dog park was very controversial because a lot of the neighbors didn’t like all the noise.”
Councilmember Gleam Davis asked shortly after if staff would be able to explore other localities, such as Franklin Park, that could house a recreation area for canines.
The item then passed unanimously.