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City may scrap weekend dog ban at Foothills Park

Original post made on Apr 29, 2009

A confusing policy that allows leashed dogs to visit Foothills Park on the weekdays but bars them from the park on weekends may soon be revised.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 3:57 PM

Comments (36)

Posted by Beagle Man
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I take my dogs there during the weekdays as much as I can, but it can be hard to make it to the park on a weekday before sundown. When I'm there I let my dogs off the leash in the meadow and they absolutely love it. They don't chase deer or other animals, and if they do their business I'm there to clean it up immediately. During these times the park is practically empty. The other day we were there and saw only 3 other people in the lower part of the park. I could understand banning dogs if they were a problem at Foothills Park, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Posted by Fido
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2009 at 4:37 pm

You have to be realistic. Anytime you allow leashed dogs in a park, a percentage of dog owners will let their dogs run off-leash. Enforcing leash laws on hiking trails is practically impossible. If you're going to enforce dog regulations, the only practical place to enforce them is at the park entrance.

Posted by bill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:03 pm

We desperately need more dog poo for fertilizer!

Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:50 pm

The last time I was hiking at Arastradero Preserve, a few weeks ago, a large black dog lunged at me barking. I had to yell and confront it to scare it away. EXTREMELY annoying, considering there is a leash law in this park that is ALWAYS ignored by the dog owners. Also, it seems that the ratio of owners who pick up after their dogs to those who don't is about 1 to 3. Meaning, 3 out of 4 just leave it there.

Posted by James Hoosac
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 29, 2009 at 9:58 pm

The initial ban was intended to let rabbits and other small wild animals to have a good weekend to rest. Now this is all ruined. What a pity.

Posted by Ann
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:23 am

I go to the foothill because it is so peaceful and no DOGS.
All dog owners think their dog can do no wrong, most of them ignored
the leash law. I vote for no dogs at Foothill Park.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:35 am

Jim - Did you learn Everyday Math?

Posted by No dogs
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:57 am

Having been attacked by two dogs recently, one while walking on East Meadow and another on Amarillo. Both these dogs were on leaches that extend way out as the dog runs further away, and that is how I was attacked, the owners did not have control of their dogs.

There are too many children in Foothill Park on weekends to allow dogs.

Posted by Mary Ellen White
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 30, 2009 at 8:34 am

I think the current ban during weekends but not during the week is a good compromise. The park is little used during the week, and I see few dogs in the park other than my own. However, I do on occasion run into an off-leash dog. It's too bad that people can't obey the leash law, but every dog owner should not have to suffer because some people can't seem to obey the rules. In the scheme of things one off-leash dog on the rare occasion during the week still doesn't seem an insurmountable problem, but several off leash dogs on the weekend might be a problem which would then lead to closing the park to dogs altogether. I use foothill park to train search and rescue dogs to track; my dogs are always on leash, and there is little open space in this area to use for training. I don't want to lose the use of Foothill, and I fear opening the park to dogs on the weekend might just cause that.

Posted by jayway
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:49 am

I love F Park (and my dogs) and I would be sorry to see the dog ban lifted on weekends. Other posters are correct in that there is way too much dog s*** on the trails already. I actually was busted for a leashed dog on a weekday holiday and my dog an I respectfully put our tails between our legs and walked away.

Posted by Koa
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:03 am

Dogs are man's best friend. I recently had a cat hiss at me while I took out the trash. Very traumatizing and annoying. Why aren't there similar cat leash laws and restrictions?

Posted by Community Member
a resident of University South
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:18 am

Always a lot of people who want to say "Ban this" and "Ban that"! Hey, it's a diverse community we live in! If you want a large parcel of non-public land with the rules you want to impose, buy your own. Don't try to ban the rest of the public from using the park. Yes, I am for dogs in the park on weekends. If you are afraid of dogs, don't go near them. If someone breaks the rules, report them. You can't just ban dogs. People who say things like that really scare me. Selfish People!

Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:38 am

I would LOVE to be able to walk my dog on weekends in Foothill Park. My schedule seldom lets me get out there during the week. A responsible dog owner (short leash, plenty of bags to pick up after your dog) will not cause any trouble.

Irresponsible dog owners cause trouble wherever they go, dogs shouldn't be wandering on a long leash anywhere - the human has no control. Except for the rare occurrence, they really shouldn't be relieving themselves outside your own yard, walks should be for exercise not going to the bathroom.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:47 am

I would like to see the dog ban on weekends lifted for those of us that can only use the park on weekends and feel too guilty to enjoy the park without our dogs. As a Palo Alto resident, I too would like the ability to enjoy the park, and for me that means walking with my dogs. As a dog owner I am all for leashes and know that if stiff fines were issued for such behavior most off-leash incidents could be stopped. One could also limit the time that dogs could occupy the park, perhaps after 4pm on weekends when most of the concerned crowds have vacated the premises. Another thought is to dedicate a small area for a dog run to appease those owners that would like to be in the park with dogs off-lead. I think banning dogs from the park altogether doesn't recognize sufficiently those Palo Alto residents with furry friends, many of which are responsible and respectful pet owners.

Posted by Concerned
a resident of University South
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:57 am

I love that Beagle Man openly admits to breaking the law and taking his dog to the park OFF LEASH! This is exactly why dogs should not be allowed there in the first place. People do not respect the fact that dogs should be leashed unless in an appropriate off leash area ...

I am a dog owner - love dogs - but having had my dogs attacked before - I would like to be able to walk the streets of Palo Alto and not have to carry mace and be fearful of off leash dogs - this goes for the parks too!

Posted by Howard
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:03 am

Palo Alto should worry less about dogs in the park and more about DRUG DEALS. There's hardly a weekday afternoon that you cannot see cars "meeting up" at the overlook at the top of the park. Usually 1-2 males who sit there waiting for something. Another car arrives, they all get out and walk somewhere out of site. Or they cruise away until you are gone.

My daughter who attends a PA high school says it's well known among local kids as a place to buy drugs.

Bad enough they took away the canoes and no longer man the gates, but now this? Come on, Palo Alto, show some pride in this beautiful park.

Posted by Penny
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:04 am

I would like the dog ban to be enacted and enforced all week long. Too many dog owners are abusing the privilege by allowing their dogs off-lease. The dogs frighten other visitors to the park...and disrupt the environment. (This is a nature refuge area. It is not a regular city park.) They dig into nests, chase animals and otherwise disrupt the natural wildlife there. I wish we could rely on people to behave more responsibly, but they don't...and the city doesn't have adequate funds to maintain the staff necessary to enforce the leash rules. So I think dogs shouldn't be allowed into the refuge at all. It's unfortunate that some dog owners spoil the experience for other dog lovers who do behave responsibly. I am very sorry about that, but I see no other practical option.

Posted by Fewer Laws, please
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:17 am

This county and this town, in particular, are crazy for laws. Some people can not feel safe anywhere outside their doors, so why try to make the world conform to their impossible set of needs. It makes everything so very bland, white-bread, uninteresting. Please allow for diversity of activity. OK, I don't want motorbikes in Park lands, but dogs? Why not keep out the kids? Personally, I prefer dogs to screaming kids and the self-righteous parents.

Posted by Koa
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:27 am

If Foothills Park is such a nature refuge and not a regular city park then why stop with dogs? Ban cars, children, fishermen, and hikers as they all disrupt the wild squirrels and trample on the poison oak. This is a wildlife preserve and children running and screaming all over the place is a major disturbance to the insects and trees. Maybe allow kids weekdays only, and of course, never off-leash.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:48 am

How about banning the long leashes. I have had them tied in knots around my legs and the leashes caught around parked strollers and trikes at parks. One day someone is going to be knocked over by them. I like dogs and am not afraid of being attacked by the dogs, just the leashes. Those things should be banned, period.

Posted by Steve C.
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 30, 2009 at 12:00 pm

What a great opportunity for all you Dog-Nazis out there to let fly at all the dogs in the world and the people who love them. Cats wreak far more havoc with far more wildlife than dogs ever will. What they catch, they kill(mostly songbirds). It's when dogs run in packs that they actually harm wildlife. That clearly is not the issue here. It's just a bunch of whiners looking for a perfect world, training their kids to fear dogs....Too many people forget why dogs were domesticated in the first place. If there is a dog poop issue or a leash issue, make the rule and enforce it. If you see someone violating the rule, speak to the dog-owner, or take a video or a picture of them and their dog(s) with your cell phone and get the information to the Park Rangers; then the Rangers can ban them from the park. Problem solved.

Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I'm not a dog owner, but I love dogs and stand on the side of those that say 'let the dogs be there every day'.

The rule was set up to address a problem that existed 30 years ago. We have enough laws designed to keep us thinking and acting small.

Let's try lifting the ban, while still requiring leashes and managing those who fail to respect the leash law.

I'd love to be able to hike the trails with my friends and their dogs. Foothills park is a wonderful place for pets, who are too often confined throughout the week. Let's give these "best friends" the gift of nature as well as our population.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Many people actually like to hike with their dogs at Foothills. Even this week there was a case of people needing rescue when falling into a ravine. Many solo hikers take a dog for that very reason, a dog can either help to pull them up or can bark and cause attention to an injured hiker. These are not specially trained dogs, just loyal pets that will give a feeling of protection to those out on their own.

Posted by Beagle Man
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Apr 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm


You're right, I do openly admit to taking my dog "OFF LEASH" at Foothills Park thereby breaking the law. Sometimes I speed on 101 too, or cross Middlefield Rd. outside of a crosswalk. It's obvious that I'm a total menace to the community.

Maybe you should read my post again. I clearly stated that I did this at a time when the park was basically empty, nobody around to offend. I guess the next time I think about doing this I should remember how concerned you are and not let my dogs run free. I don't know what I was thinking, just please don't mace us.

Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm

So, the article quotes commissioners who vote for "consistency," for not "surprising people." Good grief, so inconsistency and surprises are all some people have to worry about. We have scofflaws in the park breaking the rules, unleashing their dogs, smoking a joint, and living it up when no one is around to witness their good behavior. For every announcement of the presence of Foothill Park, just add a couple of the ever beloved hyphens to the announcement to append "No Dogs", as in "Foothills Park--No Dogs".

AS to dogs being a help to anyone in trouble, nonsense. Most dogs will only bark at you as a strange being doing something unexpected. People really inflate their dogs' importance or helpfulness to anyone else in the world. The Lassies of the world are popular because they are so unusual in the world, not because any other dog resembles them.

Posted by Jean
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 30, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Last week we enjoyed watching a coyote checking the Foothills Park grass area for something to eat. Would we have seen that if there had been a dog around? I don't think so. Dogs and wildlife are just not compatible. Uncontrolled dogs may not do well with people either. And enforcement of the leash law in Foothills Park is not possible because the rangers don't have time for that. Foothills Park is a special place. Lets keep it that way.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Dogs will deter Pumas, robbers and rapists in Foot Hill Park.
Many people have a very naive view of nature,which is in fact" red in tooth and claw"

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With raving, shriek'd against his creed

So runs my dream, but what am I?
An infant crying in the night
An infant crying for the light
And with no language but a cry.

This poem, by Alfred Tennyson, was published before Charles Darwin made his theory public in 1859.
However, the phrase "Nature, red in tooth and claw" in canto 56 quickly was adopted by others as a phrase that evokes the process of natural selection.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 30, 2009 at 6:51 pm

I have a dog and a job and can't get there on weekdays. How about giving the critters a rest 5 days a week and letting the dogs in the park on weekends only?

Posted by Barry
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 1, 2009 at 11:14 am

As others have said, too many dog owners don't obey the leash laws. The only way to prevent dogs off leash is to not allow them into the park, period.

If the city and dog owners would agree to stiff fines and enforcement for off-leash dogs, I'd be ok with dogs allowed in Foothill Park 7 days a week. Since I don't think that's going to happen, I think the status quo is a reasonable compromise.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2009 at 11:22 am

How about one park in our city that allows dogs off leash. The reason dog owners want to let dogs off leash is that it is good for the dogs to be able to run free. The dog runs are pathetically small, dirty, and overcrowded. It is about time dog owners were treated like other groups in this city and given a fair amount of space. It wouldn't necessarily have to be 100% of the time, perhaps just certain days or certain hours of certain days. But it would have to be advertised as dog off leash times so that those who felt uncomfortable with offleashed dogs would choose an alternative time to come to this park, or an alternative park to frequent at this time.

No, I am not a dog owner, but I think dog owners are given a hard deal.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2009 at 11:25 am

PS I don't mean that Foothills should be this one park, but that one park in Palo Alto somewhere could have designated dog off leash times.

Posted by Koa
a resident of Midtown
on May 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Hey JB-

Thanks for the rambling, disjointed post on hyphens and drug-using dog owners. BTW dog-owners aren't the only ones capable of inflating perceptions of importance.

Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Jim's math seems fine to me.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 1, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I think it's really hilarious that people think our domesticated dogs can in any way harass the native wildlife. There were/are foxes, coyotes, and mountain lions. I have never seen any domesticated dog walking around with any "fresh kill".

This was the same lame excuse Stanford used to close The Dish to dogs, as part of it's campaign to lift it's leg on it's territory. Once, when dogs were allowed there, I was at the very top and looked down at the parallel trail which dips into a ravine and joins the higher one. A woman was screaming and chasing her Chihuahua as it dragged it's leash. A very large hawk was swooping down and in obvious pursuit. The woman was able to abort the attack. I think of that scene and laugh whenever anyone plays the nature card in the dog-at-the-park debate.

I also disgustedly chuckle whenever I hike a trail banned to dogs and have to navigate over mounds of recently laid down horse turds.

People own dogs, probably a big majority. They are "man's best friend". People pay taxes and deserve to have a place they and their dogs can get exercise in a natural environment. The dog owners may break some rules, just like humans do, and may need to be cited or fined from time to time. Just as regular park goers who also may break rules---be it drug dealing or fishing without a license.

I just think we should ban Stanford employees from bringing their dogs there until The Dish is opened to dogs again.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I would love to be able to walk with my dogs in beautiful Foothill park on the weekends, having to work for a living during the week. It is always easier to make rules to avoid any potential conflict, e.g. a dog off leash. This is the "home-owner's association" approach to compromise. However, a rich diverse community should not have too many exclusionary rules. I feel excluded from using Foothill park on my free time - the weekends.

Posted by Marty
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Yeah to "Fewer Laws." Screaming kids running wild without parental control are far more annoying than dogs. Folks, teach your kids how to behave around dogs--i.e. teach them to respect dogs and to realize that dogs get scared by shrieks and hyper behavior. You can't, and shouldn't, shelter your kids from everything, much as you constantly try. Instead, teach your kids how to handle living in the real world; dogs are a part of that world.

Having been bitten by a small dog when I was a child, I could have become one of the paranoid types who vent their spleen in these comments, but I was lucky. My parents didn't exaggerate a little nip, which did leave a small scar, into a huge crisis. Consequently, unlike today's wimpy kids, I grew up unafraid of dogs and have enjoyed their loving company for decades.

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