A legal brief calling for the Town of Moraga to set aside its decision to create a separate, fenced-in area for dogs at Rancho Laguna Park was filed Thursday in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
The action, taken by Orinda attorney Bill Cosden on behalf of Moragan Steven Lewis and several other unnamed petitioners, challenges a Dec. 14 Town Council decision to ensure a "spatial separation" between dog-less park users and dog owners who have enjoyed free-running off-leash hours at little Rancho Laguna for the past 20 years.
Rancho Laguna, a leafy eight-acre park at the end of Camino Pablo on Moraga's southside, has become the focal point of an at-times bitterly contested struggle between dog owners who come to the park during limited times in the morning and early evening to let their dogs run free -- and those who say the liberated canines intrude on their use of park facilities.
The Town Council and Park and Recreation Director Jay Ingram have attempted to find common ground, but both sides have charged the other with attempting to override their interests and with politicizing the issue.
The backbone of Cosden's writ challenges the town's "improper adoption" of a resolution calling for spatial separation of dog owners and their charges under CEQA -- the California Environmental Quality Act.
Proposed changes to the park, specifically the creation of the enclosed dog "run," will cause "material damage" to the north and east quadrants of the park and damage habitat along the adjacent San Leandro Reservoir tributary, the writ alleges.
Much of the enmity between dog owners, non-dog owners and town officials was caused, Cosden writes in a supporting letter to the town, by confusion caused by vague signage at the park which resulted in citations for dog owners in 2008.
His writ calls for a ruling that will "set aside and void" approvals of the park project and "refrain from further consideration" of the park project until full compliance with CEQA can be ensured.