Starting this June 9 area dogs will no longer be able to romp unfettered in Rancho Laguna Park -- the focal point of one of the most contentious civic use battles in town history.
The unassuming 8-acre park was part-time home to a fierce contingent of local dog owners who struggled to keep it available for off-leash play periods, and who fought hard to keep it open to them despite complaints of reported dog fights and unretrieved droppings.
Council members Ken Chew, Karen Mendonca and Howard Harpham carried the vote during an expectedly heated meeting Wednesday night. Mayor Mike Metcalf and council member Dave Trotter voted against ending off leash hours.
Wednesday's decisions ends a longstanding, communal gathering of pet owners and their animals at Rancho Laguna. Their battle to retain the right to gather at the park included legal action against the town after council members announced an effort to find the right design for a "spatially separated," enclosed dog run at the park. Several of those close to the issue have said the lawsuit virtually guaranteed a negative decision against the dog owners -- many of whom have been openly critical of town departments and staff they felt were attempting to fence them in.
In a "giveback" move of sorts, Moraga's council Wednesday also authorized expenditure of $25,000 for an environmental review that could mean the eventual construction of a fenced-in, "dogs only" run at the park -- with financial help from dog owners with money for that purpose.