"Off Leashers" Out At Rancho Laguna Park

Moraga's town council votes 3-2 to end periods of unrestrained play for dogs at Rancho Laguna Park.


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.

TMoraga May 16, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Fritz its quite simple really. You have a Town park which is used by kids and their parents and dog owners. Clearly we have dog owners who come from outside of Moraga to use the park - which has no distinct separation between dogs and kids. In an attempt to make the park safer for both users the Town had a lawsuit filed against it by the Dog people. So the simple solution is to simply cut the dogs out of the park completely its the lowest cost and lowest risk solution to a town with very limited funds. As for your perception of the dog people being some how magically different than any other dog group around the BAY Area you clearly are in la la land. The worst time to visit the park with your child was when said dog group consisting of lots of out of area people were all there at the same time. You had unsupervised dogs running up to kids and people trying to use the park. Yes my child and I were one of those people we walk to the park. We also have a dog who very very rarely visits that park and when he does he stays on leash. He also happens to be FAR FAR better trained than 90% of the dogs at the park. It's not my dog I worry about its the unknown dogs and even worse the la la land owners many who are not from Moraga.
Dr, Undertaker May 20, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Nic, You distilled this down to the truth.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop May 20, 2012 at 04:46 PM
For whom shall we cast our ballots?
Scott Bowhay May 20, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Well, for a number of reasons beyond the Rancho Laguna issue, we certainly do not vote for either Harpham or Mendonca. So at this point, my one re-election vote would go to Mike Metcalf. We need two new, excellent candidates. One I would support, if we could talk her into running, is Trish Bare. She has a very strong record supporting MEF and the schools in general. Anyone have another candidate in mind?
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop May 20, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I like the sound of this, Scott! Working folks up for candidacy or even to simply get them to vote is a lot of work. Where to start here in out fair town? I sent a LETTER TO EDITOR this morning on this very issue. I hope it makes the cut!


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