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San Carlos fights over dog park

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Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Karina Salgado,
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The city of San Carlos opened a new off-leash dog park that had some residents bark complaints and others howl support at bi-monthly city council meetings.

The facility has caused a big debate between San Carlos residents, since some believe it is in a bad location. It is surrounded by apartment complexes and disrupts what used to be a peaceful neighborhood, according to residents.

The dog park is located in the downtown area on the corner of Elm Street and San Carlos Avenue next door to City Hall, the library and police department. The park is a 1.3 acre unpaved fenced piece of land, with a few benches, picnic tables and original trees that date back as far as 40 years.

Since the grand opening on Sept. 14, the park has been discussed  in every city council meeting, which occurs twice a month. Residents have proposed for the dog park to be relocated to one of the four original areas, first proposed by the city: Lower Vista Park, Arguello Park, North Crestview Park and Chilton Park. There haven’t been reports on which location is most favorable.

“It’s the owner’s responsibility to keep control and not allow a dog to bark for 15 minutes straight at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning,” said Ivan Rodriguez, who lives in the apartment complex next door to the park.

Other complaints include owners not cleaning up after their dogs, the lack of security in the early mornings and late evenings, poor lighting and the lack of parking spaces for local residents.

Supporters of the park show up to every city council meeting to make sure their opinions are heard and have city officials know how important the park is to them since there are so few in the area where dogs can roam free off-leash.

“Complaints were based on the barking primarily,” said Parks and Recreation Director Christine Boland. Noise complaints were made at the city hall meeting and to accommodate local residents, Boland put restrictions to the hours of operation of the park.

The dog park is now open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays. Before complaints were made, there were no enforced restrictions on the dog park.

Reports from the San Mateo Daily Journal say the council approved spending up to $80,000 to enclose about 75 percent of the City Hall Park for a temporary off-leash program, however the status of the program approval is pending.

“The city council has the power to make changes to any of the city’s infrastructure at any time, but I imagine they are going to leave this a permanent dog park,” said Boland.

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San Carlos fights over dog park