GENERAL COMMENTS AGAINST THE PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE

1)    The “Poison Pill” of a “Compliance-Based Management Strategy” is unfairsince it can only reduce off-leash access and not increase access in the future, and is an attempt to circumvent the legal requirement of a public process when management changes that are significant or highly controversial are made. It will not work and must be removed.

2)    The Preferred Alternative severely restricts recreational access for people with dogs, a fundamental violation of the reason the GGNRA was created.In the legislation that created it, the reason for the creation of the GGNRA is listed as “the maintenance of needed recreational open space.” Off-leash dog walking is among the recreational activities listed as traditionally occurring in the land that was to become the GGNRA. There is no off-leash access in San Mateo County in the Preferred Alternative and that must be changed.

3)    The Preferred Alternative is overly restrictive.The science and data do not support the level of restrictions on people with dogs included in the Preferred Alternative. When dogs are walked in a responsible way (as most are), there is no conflict with the environment or with other park users. Target people not walking their dogs responsibly, but leave the vast majority of us alone.

4)    The Preferred Alternative unfairly mandates that any new land that comes into the GGNRA cannot have dogs either on- or off-leash.This restriction is unneeded, and denies the traditional recreational activity of off-leash dog walking that has existed on many of these lands for decades. It goes against the recreational mandate that was the reason the GGNRA was created. If new land is added to the GGNRA, off-leash access must be allowed on it.

5)    The Preferred Alternative is not “balanced.”The 1979 Pet Policy allowed dogs off-leash on less than 1% of GGNRA land. Given recent additions of large tracts in San Mateo County to the GGNRA, this number is now significantly less than 1%. Off-leash dog walking started from a position of great imbalance. One-third of San Francisco households have dogs, yet they can currently recreate with their dogs on less than 1% of GGNRA land. The Preferred Alternative allows off-leash on even less, including no off-leash anywhere on GGNRA land in San Mateo County. How is that balanced? By denying the possibility of off-leash on any new lands that come into the GGNRA in the future, the Preferred Alternative will ensure there is no balance between recreation and protection of natural resources in the future. We need more off-leash recreational open space, not less.

6)    The Preferred Alternative is based on a philosophy of separation and exclusion. It denies that different park users can co-exist.Rather than share space between different park users, the Preferred Alternative carves up park space into separate areas for different park users. This basic philosophy is the exact opposite of the way we approach problems in San Francisco. It flies in the face of the unique social qualities of San Francisco. The GGNRA needs to develop a new Alternative that will better reflect San Francisco values such as co-existence, shared space, collaboration, and education to address problems should they occur.

7)    The Preferred Alternative discourages cooperation between different park usersand will increase conflict between park users, as more and more people are crammed into smaller and smaller spaces. Park user groups can work together to resolve problems when they come up. For example, Fort Funston Dog Walkers, SFDOG and the hang glider group Feathered Flyers of Fort Funston collaborated on a series of signs to warn dog owners to keep their dogs out of the hang glider take-off area.

8)    The Preferred Alternative condemns every dog owners for the actions of a very few irresponsible owners.According to the GGNRA’s own statistics, 94% of dogs do not chase birds (and most of those who did chased seagulls). Yet, all people with dogs will be excluded from a majority of Ocean Beach to “protect” birds. . Focus enforcement on people who do not keep their dog from chasing birds rather than on excluding all people with dogs.

9)    Dog owners are being held to a standard of behavior that is impossibly high, and significantly higher than any other park users.For example, studies by GGNRA staff routinely show people without dogs “disturb” plovers, but there is no attempt to restrict people without dogs from the beaches where plovers roost (not nest).