Scott Wiener Takes Up Cause of Anti-Leash Activists

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And so it begins
One of the more puzzling aspects of San Francisco politics is the bizarre level of conflict that arises with any discussion of dogs.

The prolonged internecine conflict between those who wish to run their dogs free and advocates of more restrictive leash laws has periodically convulsed the city. In a cover story last year, we predicted that an impending crackdown on off-leash dogs at the federal lands managed in San Francisco by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area could lead to renewed strife.

Consider that crackdown "impending" no longer. It's here, in the form of a new plan, released yesterday by National Park Service officials, that calls for extensively curtailing off-leash dogs in such popular areas as Ocean Beach, Crissy Field, and Fort Funston.

Negative reactions from off-leash dog activists have been swift, and it appears that San Francisco's local elected officials are jumping into the fray.

Supervisor Scott Wiener says he opposes the GGNRA plan, and is calling at today's Board of Supervisors meeting for the city's Recreation and Park Department to look into whether the restricted access to federal lands will affect city-owned parks -- which presumably could be inundated with displaced dog owners.

"The change that they're looking at [in the GGNRA] is extreme, and I don't support it," Wiener told SF Weekly.

It isn't the first time a politician has taken up the notoriously thorny Dog Issue. The last time federal officials suggested restricting off-leash access, about 10 years ago, then-Supervisor Gavin Newsom assured an enraged crowd of dog owners that he would seek to expel the Park Service from the San Francisco Peninsula if the proposal went through. (Really.)

But any pol who gets into this fight does so at his own risk. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu found himself embroiled at the end of 2009 in a hapless leash-law skirmish at Nob Hill's Huntington Park. Wiener acknowledges the combustibility of all matters dog-related, but says he is not deterred.

"It is definitely a difficult and thorny issue, and some people have advised me to stay away from it," he said. "But it's one of those issues that affects so many people, and we need to tackle it."

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guest
guest

I assert that my right to dog-free space is equal to any right a dog owner has to bring his/her critter with him/her to the GGNRA. Dogs have ruined many visits for us in recent years. Dogs are not native animals to the GGNRA; their impact is NOT negligible. Dogs are not people, they should not have nor do they deserve the access rights that humans do.

Mr X
Mr X

I live in Seattle and these conflicts are hardly unique to SF (and as a footnote, SF is one of my cradle cities since my dad comes from there and my grandma lived there for her whole life).

Bottom line - the feds are gonna win this one. Suck it up, dog people.

PS - I loved my grandma's German Shepherd Biff to death and used to go jogging with him along with my "Uncle" Joe when we visited SF, and Biff handled doing that on a leash just fine.

Laura
Laura

San Francisco needs to take a stand for people who don’t want to encounter dogs. Currently there is 0% of SF land for those people because dog owners treat every inch of SF as off leash. Scott Weiner likes dogs so what does he care about those who don’t. Apparently he doesn’t care at all. Think about what other groups he might not care about. There are more whites in his district, so maybe he doesn’t care about blacks either. There aren't too many muslims in his district, maybe he doesn’t care about muslims. Maybe he doesn’t care about you. Let him get away with this and he'll take away your rights too.

Sfdogfuzz
Sfdogfuzz

Laura, it seems like your major beef is with dogs unleashed in what are leash-only areas. This is a separate issue and one I encourage you to pursue but please don't confuse the two. Leave us responsible dog owners the less than 1% of GGNRA lands we have to recreate in. Contact your local park officials about enforcement where you see people violating leash laws.

Obie Daug
Obie Daug

Well, Laura, since almost every television commercial and magazine ad, not to mention most movies and television series, feature a dog, I suspect you are among a small but vocal minority of the population who does not like dogs. Good public policy makes certain provisions for people like you but the needs of 40% of the households in SF who own at least one dog must considered too. The 1979 GGNRA Pet Policy considered the needs of dog owners, environmentalists, dog haters and dogs themselves and was very carefully negotiated by all stakeholders before implementation. The sum total of areas of the GGNRA currently available for off-leash are at somewhere around one half of one percent of the GGNRA parkland space. I am amazed at the intolerance of some of the people in this City directed at those who chose to pursue certain legal recreational activities. Since the vast majority of us are not harming you in any way, let's enforce the existing laws pertaining to off-leash voice control and non harassment before we sink the ship. P.S. I sure would love Dawdler above to tell me how he plays the most basic game of fetch with his dog on leash, or how the aged and arthritic dogs who count on a swim for their exercise can do that on leash. crissy Field

Guest
Guest

A big congratulations to Scott Wiener for being the first on the Board to protect existing off-leash recreation in the GGNRA. Thank you Scott! Even though it’s only in a miniscule portion of the GGNRA (less than 1%) off-leash is a popular recreation enjoyed by a wide diversity of people, with people & dogs & wildlife co-existing for decades, starting long before SF gave the land to the GGNRA. Also people are passionate about their dogs, i.e. people who have never voted before will probably vote in the next election. This is a big deal since even a few hundred votes can swing the election in this ranked-choice town.

Guest2
Guest2

Most of the GGNRA is not useable land. Off leash dogs currently get the best land. This is NOT fair and needs to be changed. Scott Wiener is going to lose a lot of support too. So who knows how things will go for him in the next round.

dawdler
dawdler

i looked at the plan - it's not that restrictive. i don't know if city parks would be "inundated". and what's so bad about putting your dog on a leash, anyway? the dog doesn't care if it's on the leash or off as long as it gets enough exercise Just run WITH the damn dog. better for both of you.

RatherTravel
RatherTravel

The plan is very restrictive since it majorly decreases the less than 1% of GGNRA that dogs are allowed to visit. To be honest, it takes a lot of running to completely exercise a dog, which is not possible for the majority of dog owners and that is why it's important to have many open areas where dogs can run off leash. That isn't even addressing the added benefit of socialization of the dogs. If you've ever lived outside of the Bay Area, you'd recognize how well behaved the dogs (and owners) are and that is largely, if not entirely, in part to having places where dogs can run off leash.

dawdler
dawdler

i would respectfully disagree - it doesn't take a lot of running to exercise a dog. you can exercise a dog with a long, brisk walk. i've had dogs all my life and i've always just given them a good at least 40 minute brisk walk per day and that's been fine. if i didn't have the resources or capacity to manage a dog on-leash then I would either not get a dog or move out of a densley populated urban area. or get a pug or other small dog that doesn't need a ton of walking.

plus, even the greatest dog can be unpredictable and having a dog off leash is just a safety problem for everyone involved. my 2 cents.

dawdler
dawdler

@Dogfuzzsf

Get a grip:

1 - Nobody is talking about outlawing dogs.2 - Are you saying that "all the psychological and physical benefits" a dog provides are only possible if the dog is OFF their leash? So if the dog is ON a leash then they provide no benefits? I think your "benefits" argument is completely irrelevant to the discussion of leash laws.3 - NOBODY in this city (ok maybe 1% of owners) exercises their dog for two hours a day. Therefore we are all bad dog owners (myself included) and it would be irresponsible for anyone in this city to have a dog since by your definition we are not keeping our dogs healthy. Is that what you're saying?

Dogfuzzsf
Dogfuzzsf

So people in cities should only own pugs? Forget that most dog breeds need at least 2 hours of exercise a day to be healthy, do you know all of the psychological and physical benefits dogs provide to their owners? Educate yourself. SF is putting all those benefits at risk. It will be a far poorer, unhealthier, even crazier city if this passes.

Rocket
Rocket

Thanks to Scott Weiner for being one of the few SF supervisors to take this on.

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