San Francisco board backs dog owners in fight with GGNRA over proposed restrictions

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SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tuesday threw its support behind dog owners fighting a proposal to reduce the areas within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where dogs are allowed.

The board voted 10-1 in favor of a resolution by Supervisor Katy Tang opposing plans by the National Park Service to reduce dog access in areas including Ocean Beach, Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Lands End, Sutro Heights Park and Fort Funston.

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.

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. They have argued that the changes would increase the pressure on city parks as well, as more dog owners use those sites for recreation.

Supervisor Eric Mar was the lone voice of opposition, saying that he felt the resolution did not give sufficient weight to the need to protect endangered species and critical habitat within the GGNRA, which

includes parts of Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

“I don’t think this is a resolution that supports this shared balance, it’s more on the pro-dog owner side,” Mar said, adding “My goal is working with the National Park Service.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener noted that the board of supervisors has consistently resisted efforts to restrict dogs’ access to the GGNRA over the past several decades. He said the park service suffered from an “anti-dog” bias that it was imposing on an urban recreation area relied on by Bay Area residents.

“This not a balanced proposal,” Wiener said of the park service’s plans. “It would dramatically restrict dogs’ access.”

In other canine matters, the board also voted unanimously in support of a resolution by Board President London Breed backing Assembly Bill 1825. The legislation would remove a provision in state law that

automatically labels puppies and dogs seized in connection with dog fighting cases as “vicious,” often condemning them to euthanasia.

“We all deserve a second chance, and I think these dogs do too,” Breed said.

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