Fort Funston Forum

This site is not being updated but is an archive of the struggle to continue off-leash recreation during the 2000-2001 period. It was also briefly known as GGNRA WatchDog (now an unrelated site).


For more information, please visit one of the following sites:


The Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) started January 11 to determine whether there is sufficient "public will" to continue the longstanding tradition of off-leash recreation in the GGNRA. Public comment closes on April 12 (it was extended from March 12). Write NOW!

The ANPR document is strongly biased against off-leash recreation. It is critical that ALL supporters of off-leash recreation let the GGNRA know that there is room for this activity in its 75,000 acres. Traditionally, off-leash use has occurred in only 0.5% of this land.


Here's how you can make your comments, see the ANPR, get more information, and get more updates:



BY MAIL OR FAX: GGNRA; Attention: ANPR; Fort Mason, Building 201; SF CA 94123. Comments must be received by April 12, 2002 to be considered. FAX: (415) 561-4355


If you write a comment letter, please send a copy to: SFDOG, PO Box 31071, SF CA 94131-0071, or e-mail: or fax: (978) 477-7757.

IN PERSON: Comments will be accepted at public meetings (see SFDOG website).

WHERE TO FIND THE ANPR DOCUMENT: You can find the ANPR on the government's site:, or at All GGNRA visitor centers will have copies, including the Crissy Field Visitor Center, Warming Hut, Presidio Main Post Visitor Center and the NPS Pacific West Information Center in Building 201, Fort Mason. Copies are also on reserve at some San Francisco Public Library Branches. For more information, contact Christine Powell (GGNRA) at 415-561-4728.

UPDATES: Send your e-mail address to: and ask for ANPR updates. Check websites for more information:, ,

VOLUNTEER: to work on the ANPR, call one of these groups:
      Crissy Field DOG                 (415) 346-5934
      Fort Funston Dog Walkers    (415) 273-5715
      SFDOG                                (415) 339-7461








Click here!

for Transcript, Agenda & Superintendent's Report
from Jan. 22, 2002 Advisory Commission Meeting!

Lisa Vittori: [excerpt]
For the last year, we have actually engaged in civil dialogue with you; we've used your forums, we've obeyed your rules. If this [ANPR] process is rigged in the way the other forums have been rigged, I don't think you can expect our cooperation after this. So I would really appreciate seeing this Commission really represent the views of the community -- the broad community -- in integrating dog and recreational use with environmental use in this park. Thank you.

~ Jan. 23, 2001 ~

was the huge outpouring of opposition to a motion by the Advisory Commission
to rescind its
1979 Pet Policy, which had been

officially adopted by the National Park Service:

("The Smoking Gun Brochure")

-- for the official transcript from that historic meeting: --

Click here


Jan. 22nd UPDATE:

Two inconspicuous ANPR notices have been posted
at Fort Funston, and another inconspicuous one at Crissy Field --
about ten days into the Comment Period.

Superintendent Brian O'Neill stated at the Jan. 22, 2002 Advisory Commission meeting that:
"We are currently in the process of trying to get the notification of the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking up at all sites -- I can't guarantee they're all up today, but they're certainly in the process of being placed at all locations, and we'll keep an attentive eye to make sure that, if indeed they disappear, that we replenish them. " -- see Transcript

Yet, an inspection that very afternoon (Jan. 22nd) showed one inconspicuous sign at Crissy Field, none at Baker Beach, none at Stairwell 21 or Sloat Blvd. on Ocean Beach, and one inconspicuous one at Fort Funston. (Apparently there's a second one down in the closure area at Fort Funston, too.) This seems to be a deliberate attempt to not inform the large number of park users in these locations who walk their dogs at these locations. Here are photos showing how inconspicuous these notices are -- and a large photo of the notice itself.

This website painted a red circle on these
Jan. 22, 2002 photos of Crissy Field (above) and Fort Funston (below)
-- so you know where to look for the notices!

Allow some time for this photo to load and progressively become readable if you're on a dial-up connection!

No Notice

of ANPR at Fort Funston and Elsewhere!
on Jan. 15, 2002

At the start of the paved trail at Fort Funston on Jan. 15, 2002,

and the start of the dirt trail,

over by the Ranger Station...

and at the closed Visitor Center:

On January 15, 2002, about a week into the "ANPR Process" in which the Park Service claims to be actively soliciting comments from everyone, there was no notice of any kind about the ANPR or how to participate. It was the same at Crissy Field and elsewhere. There should be notices at popular spots letting park users know that there is a short period in which to get their comments in!





THE RECOVERY PLAN FOR COASTAL PLANTS calls for extensive removal of trees and for experimentation with temporary, rotating closures of lands at the Presidio and Ft. Funston.

Although the plan calls for existing recreation to continue at Ft. Funston (to an unspecified extent) and for small, rotating closures, the Park Service is free to do as it has in the past and ignore reasonable advice. As in the past, closures could grow and become permanent.

It's important for off-leash advocates to turn out for these public meetings to give the Park Service and the general public the message that we are concerned and that we view this as another threat to our recreational opportunities.

This is also an opportunity for us to chronicle and publicize the mismanagement of our recreational and natural resources, including the Park Services' ill-conceived, poorly managed, community-unfriendly approach to plover protection, bank swallow protection, and the Crissy Field Marsh restoration.

I hope others will attend and use these meetings as a platform as well as a chance to ask questions and create a record. This also gives us an opportunity to join with tree preservationists and neighborhood associations who are very distressed by this plan. Please contact me if you have questions or suggestions.

Steve Cockrell, CITYDOGS

You can get a copy of the
"Draft Recovery Plan for Coastal Plants of the Northern San Francisco Peninsula"
from US Fish and Wildlife by phoning Patricia Foulk at (916) 414-6600.

*Deadline for public comment is March 4, 2002.*








The Magistrate Judge ruled against Dennis Tanaka in the Baker Beach off-leash case. But more cases are coming soon. Thanks to everyone who lent support on this case.


A key GGNRA off-leash case came to trial in January:

Fri. Jan. 18th at 9:30 a.m.
Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco

(between Hyde & Larkin, 1 block from Civic Center)
U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James' Courtroom
Courtroom B, 15th Floor



Dennis Tanaka was walking his two dogs off leash at Baker Beach last fall, as he has done for the past 30 years. There were no signs indicating leashes were required. He was not in any sort of protected area, but rather in the section that has been traditionally off leash there. Without warning or an opportunity to leash up the dogs, a ranger singled him out and gave him a ticket for having a dog off leash!

Dennis is being defended by an experienced criminal defense attorney, Jeff Adachi (who is currently running for Public Defender). This is an important case; the Park Service should see that off-leash tickets are going to be unpopular to prosecute.





Click here
for transcript from Jan. 10, 2002 press conference announcing the start of the
ANPR (Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) process!

Click here
for the actual ANPR notice in Jan. 11, 2002 Federal Register!
-- be patient; it may take a minute or more to display! --
(or click here for an Acrobat/PDF version)



Sign the new Online Petition to support an off-leash policy in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and to ask for no change in enforcement while a new policy is created.



Click Here


Unofficial Transcript of Portions of Meeting of the

Golden Gate National Recreation Area Advisory Commission
Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2001



The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (A.N.P.R.) proposal review has been completed by the Office of Management and Budget (O.M.B.) at the White House. After the National Park Service incorporates changes as suggested by the O.M.B., the A.N.P.R. proposal will be published in the Federal Register. Then the public comment process will begin.


Read Supervisor Mark Leno's Resolution requesting the National Park Service to delay enforcing, in the San Francisco parks situated in the GGNRA, 36 C.F.R. 2.15, requiring pets to be on leash in national parks, until the ANPR process has been completed. Passed at Monday, Dec. 10, 2001 Board of Supervisors meeting.

For specifics on the long-time acceptance of off-leash dog walking in parts of the GGNRA, click here.


The Honorable John D. Graham
Administrator, OIRA
Office of Management and Budget
262 EEOB
Washington, DC 20503
Fax: (202) 395-3047

Re: Pet Policy in the GGNRA

November 6, 2001

Dear Mr. Graham,

Early this year, responding to great public pressure, the GGNRA's Citizens' Advisory Commission proposed a meeting of interested parties to attempt settlement of this issue. A 120 day period was agreed to, during which changes were not to be made in existing conditions of use, nor in signage. The first and only meeting has recently been held and a proposed Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has been sent to your office from the Park Service.

However, in the interim a false status quo ante has been set up as the baseline and precedent. A number of changes have been made in enforcement of the off-leash rule. What the Superintendent had termed "a low enforcement profile" no longer exists. Signs are now requiring "Pets on Leash," and officers are warning that citations will ensue; some have already been issued. The fact is that both the legislation establishing the GGNRA, and the GGNRA Pet Policy of 1979, acknowledged the decades of prior use and recognized off-lead dog recreation as valid.

Those conditions have prevailed for the more than 75 years of my life in San Francisco, one of the most congested cities in our country. It is unfair and wrong to deny all park and shoreline access to the thousands who have enjoyed their chosen form of recreation there for generations. Bureaucrats should not become autocrats.

I hope your office will carefully scrutinize the ANPR as proposed by the Park Service, and insure that it impartially sets forth the baseline on which decisions will be made. It defies logic that the Park Service can be allowed to change the rules while in the midst of the process to determine what the rules should be.

Sincerely yours,

Florence Sarrett

Click here for postcard to report warnings/tickets at Crissy Field!

More Leash Signs Posted... This Time at Crissy Field!

Click here for an Alert, on the Fort Funston Dog Walkers' website.

The GGNRA's concerted attempt to eliminate off leash dog walking before
the public hearing is unfair and undemocratic, and must be stopped immediately!
Click here for sample letters in Word format (or see sample letter box several items below).


Summary, Addresses, Sample Letter --
Download 1 page (2-sided) flyer to print and hand out:
Word (.doc) format
or Acrobat (.pdf) format

New signs -- or old ones with modifications --
are going up as the GGNRA ramps up its campaign against off-leash dogs

August 24, 2001
GGNRA Pet Policy Status Update:


The National Park Service has now indicated that the proposed Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) will consist of an open public input process that does not propose or favor a particular answer and does not arbitrarily foreclose any particular result. Some dog walking advocates have been pushing very hard on this issue based on a view that success in achieving fairness in the form of the ANPR process was necessary to ensure even a minimal chance in the eventual public comment period. We understand that the Secretary of the Interior's office has now insisted on guarantees of a fair process, which if true is a godsend.

However, the local Park Service employees are still escalating their enforcement campaign. A new brochure and cards insist on leashed dogs, rangers have been stopping people and telling them they will be ticketed in the future for off-leash dogs, and new "Pets on Leash" signs have been posted. The GGNRA actions reflect the GGNRA desire to establish that the current practice is that off-leash dog walking is not allowed. The GGNRA would change the status quo prior to the public input process. That likely would be fatal to our hopes.

If the local Park Service employees succeed in their efforts to create the fait accompli of stopping all off leash dog walking prior to the public input and rulemaking determination we will have little chance of reversing that status. Therefore we need to stand our ground and insist that no changes be made in the interim while the issue is considered in Washington. This is the critical moment.

We ask you to immediately and aggressively embrace this important stage of our campaign for a fair process. We need a massive amount of telephone calls, faxes and letters directed to the National Park Service headquarters in Washington, the Department of Interior and our congressional delegation. We will try to persuade "Washington" that the current enforcement campaign is unfair and must be halted in that the NPS should not abruptly change the policy on the eve of the public input process.

Many of you have expressed your outrage during walks in our parks. Indeed the GGNRA conduct is an outrage against the democratic process in that they are changing the policy and beginning enforcement before, rather than after, they hold the public input forum supposedly set up to evaluate whether to make the change. That would make the process a farce. Many of you understand that this follows a pattern of attempts by the GGNRA to subvert the right to public participation.

Write and call Washington right now!

There are two key points:

First, complain about the decision to begin enforcement. Explain that this should not happen prior to the fair consideration and public hearing of the issue. Tell them that it seems patently unfair and biased. Explain that people out here are mad as hell. The pet policy worked fine for 20 years. There is no need to change it abruptly prior to fair, full and careful consideration.

Second, demand to know who in "Washington" is insisting on the change in policy and why they require that this substantial change be implemented prior to public input.

--- Print Sample Letters ---
--- Click on Word or Acrobat Links Below! ---

Sample Letter:

Click here for letters in Microsoft Word (.doc) format. This is best as you can insert your own words, change fonts, etc. to personalize the letters. They're much more effective if they aren't form letters.

- or -

Click here for letters in Acrobat (.pdf) format (if you can't use the Word version above). You will need to have installed the free and easy-to-install Adobe Acrobat Reader program -- click here to do that first if needed!

Dear ___________________,

The National Park Service has repeatedly promised that it will give the public a fair process with regard to proposed changes to the long enjoyed traditional practice of allowing off leash dog walking recreation in some parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. But now the public input process is being subverted by the GGNRA suddenly reversing its longstanding policy which allowed off-leash dogs in certain areas -- before the public input process occurs.

That is unfair.

The Park Service says it is setting up an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which it suggests will fairly allow the public to have input on this highly unpopular change. Nevertheless, the GGNRA employees announce that they have unilaterally reversed the current policy before the ANPR public input process begins. What good is a public input process if the agency is so committed to the change that it insists on abruptly reversing its longstanding policy and aggressively escalating enforcement just prior to the public comment period?

The Federal Court previously criticized similar GGNRA efforts that appeared to seek to create a fait accompli which would interfere with a fair public input process:

"These excerpts show an intent on the part of the National Park Service to railroad through the closure, to maintain secrecy, to unleash the fencing with lightening speed, and to establish a fait accompli."

Ft. Funston Dog Walkers v. Babbitt,
96 F. Supp 2d 1021, 1037-38 (2000).

As the prior policy and legal interpretation worked well for twenty years, there is no need to unfairly ramrod though immediate implementation of a new policy prior to full consideration of the merits of the change. The GGNRA gives no explanation of why it needs to move so quickly.

This is all even worse public policy because the change is so significant. It would have a huge impact on the quality of life of so many in this densely populated urban area. Many would not take advantage of the opportunity to visit the parks but for the activity of walking our dogs. They give us company, joy and protection, and provide a reason to get outdoors.

The GGNRA staff blames the new enforcement regime on "Washington." Please explain whether this change is in fact coming from "Washington". If so, who is insisting on making the change prior to a fair public input process, and why?

Sincerely yours,

Addresses of Federal Officials --
Phone, Fax or Write
Them About the GGNRA's
Attack on Off-Leash Recreation!

The Honorable Frances P. Mainella, Director
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
Fax: 202-208-7889
2nd Fax line: 202-273-0896
Phone: 202-208-4621

The Honorable Gale A. Norton,
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
Fax: 202-219-2100
Phone: 202-208-7351

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein,
United States Senator
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Fax: 202-228-3954
Phone: 202-224-3841
Phone: 415-393-0707

The Honorable Barbara Boxer,
United States Senator
1700 Montgomery Street, Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94111
Fax: 202-956-6701
Phone: 202-224-3553
Phone: 415-403-0100
Fax: 415-956-6701


The Honorable Nancy Pelosi,
Member of Congress
450 Golden Gate Ave., 14th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
Fax: 202-225-8259
Phone: 202-225-4965
Phone: 415-556-4862

The Honorable Tom Lantos,
Member of Congress
400 South El Camino Real, Suite 410
San Mateo, CA 94402
Phone: 202-225-3531
Phone: 650) 342-0300 (San Mateo County)
Phone: 415-566-5257 (San Francisco)
Fax: 650-375-8270
If in his district, E-mail from:

Rep. George Radanovich, Chairman
National Parks and Recreation Subcommittee
Committee On Resources,
U.S. House Of Representatives
1333 Longworth House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515-6201
Fax: 202-226-2301

The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka, Chairman
Subcommittee on National Parks
Committee on Energy and National Resources,
United States Senate
364 Dirksen Building
Washington, DC 20510
Fax: 202-224-6163

Thousands of search-and-rescue and bomb-sniffing dogs and their courageous handlers are working bravely throughout the country in this dreadful period. Here's an article about what the dogs in Oklahoma City went through. We owe all of them and the other rescuers a huge debt of gratitude for their loyal service. Here are a couple of links to support rescue dog groups: National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and California Rescue Dog Association.

Please contribute to the efforts of the Suffolk County SPCA, which is operating a mobile animal hospital command post for every search and rescue dog at "ground zero" at the World Trade Center disaster site. Send donations to: Suffolk SPCA, 363 Route 111, Smithtown, NY 11787. Or donate to The Gracie Foundation, which is also pitching in.

Some brief excerpts of relevant remarks at August 28, 2001
GGNRA Advisory Commission meeting,
which was devoted to the
Draft Presidio Trust Implementation Plan:

At the end of the Superintendent's Report -- in the verbal report, not the written one available at the meeting -- Superintendent Brian O'Neill made these remarks:

Superintendent Brian O'Neill:

The next item was the -- questions were asked on where things stood with the proposal for the notice in the Federal Register; for the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, addressing the dog-management issue of the park. That notice is currently under review within the Department of the Interior. It's pretty difficult to tell how long it may take for that to get processed. We are calling on a regular basis to try to stimulate early and quick review of that, so that the notice in the Federal Register can occur, so we can begin the public dialogue with respect to the future of dog use within the park.

At the beginning of the meeting:

Rich Bartke, Chair:

This is a regular meeting of the Advisory Commission to the National Parks in the Golden Gate Area and Point Reyes Seashore.

Later, under Non-Agenda Items, there was one speaker:

Michael Goldstein:

I just wanted to -- well, there's two things. I wasn't going to speak at all, but, since you prompted me to speak on the first one, I'm going to take the rest of my three minutes to give my thoughts.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Chair introduced this as: "This is a regular meeting of the Advisory Commission to the National Parks in the Golden Gate Area and Point Reyes Seashore."  This Commission was set up by an Act of Congress and I think it's disrespectful to Congress and the people of the United States, as well as to the people who were in this room who've already left, not to correctly address this name of this Commission, which is: "The Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore Advisory Commission", and I'd like you to make a correction to that now in the record. Would you agree to do that, Mr. Bartke?

Rich Bartke, Chair:

I'm not sure I understand the question.

Michael Goldstein:

Well, I find that hard to believe, because I've addressed this Commission on this topic before, and it's been a matter of public debate. The name of your agency is the "Golden Gate National Recreation Area", and you called this: "The National Parks in the Golden Gate Area," omitting the name "Recreation".  I don't think that was a mistake, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and the chance to correct it now for the record. Would you please do that?

Rich Bartke, Chair:

OK, consider it corrected.

Michael Goldstein:

Thank you. Now, with my remaining minute or whatever, I'd just like to say that I feel like I see a trainwreck coming -- or, maybe it's more like a shipwreck. I was once on a ship, leaving a harbor -- a passenger ship -- and seeing a freighter heading straight towards us, and everybody kind of joked at first, until they realized that it really was -- and finally, it was averted, but people started running for the lifeboats. I was at Crissy Field today and watching a whole bunch of people, dogs, babies, kids, windsurfers, bicyclists, runners -- everybody having a great time on a wonderful day. I saw a four-month-old dog there, a little puppy, and I talked to its owner and I told her that I'd just heard that the GGNRA was going to be putting up signs about dogs on a leash, and actually enforcing that. And she said she couldn't believe it. And I just feel like I'm seeing two different things going on here, and it's getting me more and more worried. On the one hand, your manager, Mr. O'Neill, is going straight forward with a policy of sending his rangers out into harm's way to get into arguments with a bunch of people who were really mad and tried to speak to you in January -- and I've talked to you about that since then. And people have pretty much given up on you, and they also respect your evening and don't show up here -- we could all be here, speaking for hours and making you go home later -- people aren't doing that, because they respect that you were here to talk about something else tonight. But, you're heading to a disaster, Mr. O'Neill, if you enforce this policy at this time. You don't need to do it. You're going to have a complete pandemonium, and don't say I didn't tell you.

SF DOG's proposed citywide dog policy
is now available on their website.
Click here
to view it!

Comments Lodged

Well, that's it; the comment period for the Draft Citywide Dog Policy closed on Monday, August 13th at 5:00 p.m. Thanks to all those who took the time to write comments and to encourage others to do so. Please send a copy of the comments you wrote, to SF DOG and to the Board of Supervisors (see adresses below). We'll see how Rec & Park handles the feedback they have received, and what the Board of Supervisors can do to ensure a fair process.

August 11, 2001

Elizabeth Goldstein, Superintendent
Recreation & Parks Dept.
MacLaren Lodge
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94117

Dear Ms. Goldstein:

You're right; dog issues have been ignored in San Francisco for a very long
time. If RPD now wants to do something about this it will have to first
work to regain public confidence and respect. Too many years of broken
promises, wasted money, and work done to deplorably low standards has
brought a near total loss of credibility.

Without credibility you cannot enlist the cooperation of dog people, and
you cannot enforce the rules. These are statements of fact, not threats.

As you are surely aware by now, the Draft Dog Policy has only widened the
credibility gap. It reveals not only an fundamental ignorance of the needs
of dogs and dog people, it also reveals an unacceptable ignorance of RPD's
oft-cited existing dog "facilities" in city parks.

I urge you, therefore, to make it your first priority -- yours personally
-- to correct this ignorance. Simply take a morning or afternoon and, using
RPD's own list of existing "Dog Play Areas" from the Draft Policy Appendix,
visit each one. (There are not 19 as claimed in the Policy, by the way, nor
even the 18 on the appended list but, in theory, 17.) Don't just drive by,
or look from an entry path, but walk to each area on RPD's list and see how
big it is and what it's like. I guarantee you that a few hours spent this
way will repay you -- and those you represent -- many thousandfold.

You'll find it helpful to consult the minimal criteria for dog areas
developed by SFDOG for the 1998 Report Card on the City's Official Dog
Runs. (Since the Draft Policy shows no evidence that this painstaking
report has been read by any RPD staff, a copy is enclosed.)

The jewel in RPD's dog-area crown is at Corona Heights Park so you might
want to reserve that for last. You'll have no trouble spotting it. Just
look for the ugly chainlink fence full of trashy signs. It's important to
know that the barren wasteland of a "field" inside is not simply the result
of hard use and a total lack of maintenance. "Development" of this field
unfortunately did not include grading to provide drainage. Not
surprisingly, rainwater from the hill drains into big pools in the winter,
which are now, of course, churned into dust. This abomination took five
years to "create." Hundreds of hours of meetings. Reams of notes and memos.
Ceaseless vigilance, constant reminders, and repeated corrections of work

If you take the time to actually inspect RPD's official dog areas in this
way I'm sure you'll better understand why dog-owning San Franciscans are
refusing to support a proposal that would not only multiply this obsence
"DPA" but require more thousands of hours of pointless meetings to do so.
If you want the support of dog people (and you do, or nothing can happen)
RPD must understand three basic concepts:

1. The human-canine bond is extremely important to both species and to the

2. Dog owners are primary park users, not marginal, and may legitimately
require park facilities and access that reflect this status.

3. Use of parks by dogs and dog people necessarily entails wear and tear
recreational use and requires regular maintenance and occasional

If RPD can reflect these fundamental truths in its efforts to produce a new
Draft Dog Policy, it may have a chance to rebuild the confidence in the
department that has been so seriously eroded over the past many years.

Dog owners spend more time in the parks than any other single category of
users except park employees. We are -- potentially -- your single biggest
supporters, political and financial. If you work with us to meet our
legitimate needs you will be astonished by our support and appreciation.


Neva Beach

cc: Board of Supervisors
Animal Care and Control
Animal Welfare Commission
Chronicle, Independent, and Guardian newspapers

Collingwood Park, Aug. 13, 2001

Would you like to have your comment letter, or letter to the Board of Supervisors, published here? Click here and copy-and-paste it into your e-mail message. Thanks. Hard copy letters can be sent to: Michael B. Goldstein, P.O. Box 460905, San Francisco CA 94146-0905.

To the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department

I am a San Francisco resident, homeowner and taxpayer. I am both pro park and
pro dog. I am opposed to this misguided and mean spirited dog policy. I am
completely at a loss to understand how this travesty ever happened in this
wonderful city that is known and loved for its diversity and tolerance.

I know that you have received many comments from residents opposed to this
policy for numerous reasons. I will not repeat many of the reasons for which
I am opposed because I saw the hearing on Channel 26 and know that you have
heard these reasons. Suffice to say that I concur with the comments made by
the opponents.

I would like to add a few comments to those you have already received.

First, I cannot believe that you have failed to understand the negative
impact that this policy will have on our senior citizens. I can't believe
that you would deliberately, and with knowledge, recommend a policy that
would reduce the social interaction and exercise of our seniors. I have to
assume that you simply are unaware of the needs of our seniors, many of whom
live alone except for their loyal and devoted canine companions.

Secondly, you are not believing your own eyes or you are not going into the
parks if you do not know the special relationship that the children of this
city have with dogs. The children of San Francisco love their dogs and have
learned an important lesson in how to live in a high density urban area loving
and caring for a companion of another species. What sort of lesson would you
have them learn? Please be aware, if you do not already know this, many of
the dog owners of the city share their dogs with children who can not have

I want to tell you about my walk in the western part of Golden Gate Park
yesterday afternoon. I was with my friend Florence who is 87 years old, her
large German Shepard Jeff, and my dog Brandy. We had the most wonderful day.
The weather was glorious. We had not had a chance to visit with each other
for a couple of months and we had lots of news to catch up on. We shared
current information about our lives with each other, commiserated with each
other on sad events and laughed together over funny ones. This is what
friends do. I have made many of my friends while with my dog. What is so
wonderful is that the friends I have made are so diverse, a microcosm of the

Florence and I met a Russian immigrant who did not speak much English. She
was with her son who turns seven in November. They spent a long time with us
because he wanted to play with and love up the big dogs. Florence showed
them how well trained Jeff is. Brandy let him pet her all over and Jeff let
him hug and put his face in the fur on Jeff's neck. The child was dying for
his own dog. In November when he turns seven this child will get his own dog.
The parents, with as many struggles as they clearly have, know that their son
will benefit from the joy of having a canine companion, his own friend.

Florence and I explained how to get a dog from the SPCA, how they had puppy
classes, and the importance of training and care. The look on this mother's
face as she told us (as best she could) that she and her husband were going
to do this for their son, was a look of pure love.

Neither Florence or I wanted our day to end. We decided the best way to end
it was at Polly Ann Ice Cream on Noriega. There we each got a cone and Jeff
and Brandy got a doggy cone. A family was there and when they got their cones
they also got doggy cones for Jeff and Brandy and loved bringing them out and
giving them to the dogs.

I tell you about my wonderful day yesterday because I want you to be aware
that this is about people, not just dogs. It is about connection and the
fabric of our lives. It is about friendship and about sharing. It is about

I am heartbroken over what has been happening. I think that a small anti dog
group has been up to much mischief and it is taking a toll on all of us.
Please, open your hearts and look at the situation fairly.

Thank you for receiving my comments,

Christy Cameron
San Francisco

Copy your letters to:

Mayor Willie Brown
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Please copy SFDOG on all correspondence:
P.O. Box 31071
SF, CA 94131
Your Supervisor (see table)
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
1) Jake McGoldrick
P: 554-7410 F: 554-7415
2) Gavin Newsom
P: 554-5942 F: 554-5946
3) Aaron Peskin
P: 554-7450 F: 554-7454
4) Leland Yee
P: 554-7752 F: 554-7751
5) Matt Gonzalez
P: 554-7630 F: 554-7634
6) Chris Daly
P: 554-7970 F: 554-7974
7) Tony Hall
P: 554-6516 F: 554-6546
8) Mark Leno
P: 554-7734 F: 554-7739
9) Tom Ammiano
P: 554-5144 F: 554-6255
10) Sophie Maxwell
P: 554-7670 F: 554-7674
11) Gerardo Sandoval
P: 554-6975 F: 554-6979

-- More info further down this page --

Over three hours of the Tuesday August 7th, 2001 Neighborhood Services & Parks Committee of the Board of Supervisors was devoted to the Draft Citywide Dog Policy. The board chambers was full; it just looks sparse above because most of the audience is lined up to speak!

The topic was continued to the committee's next meeting.

Critical Mutt A Big Success!

Critical Mutt, San Francisco's rally for off-leash dog recreation, went off without a hitch Friday, with over a thousand people showing up at City Hall to register their opposition to the threatened loss of off-leash dog communities in parks and beaches.

GGNRA Advisory Commission Meeting
Tue., July 24, 2001

Dog issues were not on the agenda for this meeting. However, they did arise in the Superintendent's Report, in three speeches by audience members under "Non-Agenda Items" at the end of the meeting, and in comments by Commissioners:

To Print the transcript:
click here

then Print using your browser's Print button.
Superintendent's Report

GGNRA Superintendent Brian O'Neill didn't address dog issues in his spoken report to the Advisory Commission, but referred them to his written report which was distributed at the meeting. Here is the section of his written report addressing dogs:

Update on Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The draft Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) was transmitted to the National Park Service (NPS) in Washington, D.C. in early July. The draft notice will be reviewed at NPS Headquarters, then will go to the Department of the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget for review. When approved, the notice will be published in the Federal Register, announcing how and when public comment will be taken. Efforts to secure the services of an independent third-party group to design the public comment process continue. Informative brochures and cards about enjoying the GGNRA with your dog will be available shortly, and this information will also be posted on our website at The brochures and cards will be available in the various visitor centers and will be distributed to all park staff. Minimal signs, needed to advise the public of the leash regulation, will continue to be installed.

Also distributed at the meeting was this "Pet Update" sheet:


This update is the 3rd in a series of public information reports on the ANPR process and pet issues within the GGNRA.

On March 21, 2001, the National Park Service (NPS) announced it would pursue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to determine whether the park should engage in formal rulemaking regarding pet management in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area (GGNRA). Currently, the regulation requiring dogs to be on leash where permitted is in effect. If undertaken, the formal rulemaking process would specifically address how pet use of the park would be managed at the GGNRA.

ANPR Status
The draft ANPR was transmitted to NPS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in early July. Once NPS Headquarters completes its review, the document will go to the Department of the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget for review. When approved, the ANPR will be published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register notice will announce how and when public comment will be taken.

Education on Leash Regulation
Public education and outreach efforts continue. Informative brochures and cards about enjoying the GGNRA with your dog will be available shortly, and this information will also be posted on our website at The brochures and cards will be available in the various visitor centers and will be distributed to park staff. Minimal signs, needed to advise the public of the leash regulation, continue to be installed.

Dog-Friendly Items Available
For the convenience of our four-legged friends and their human companions, a variety of dog treats, bowls, placemats, cards, leashes and other canine-themed items are now available at the Crissy Field Center Bookstore and the Park's newest addition, the Warming Hut at Crissy Field.

Independent Consensus Building Group
Efforts to secure the services of an independent third-party group to design the public comment process continue.


Speakers on "Non-Agenda Items"

[The first speaker spoke about the Fort Baker controversy. Then the following three people spoke on dog issues.]

Lisa Vittori:

Hi. My name is Lisa Vittori.

I came here to report to you, and to ask you about the dog issue. And, luckily, I've seen what you have to say. [Holds up a printout from GGNRA website of the new publication, "Enjoying the Park with Your Dog on Leash."] I think I've been watching too many episodes of The Sopranos recently, which is why I think I'm not going to watch it anymore, because: I feel like spitting on this document. This is not the agreement that we made in January. This is not why we waived our right to speak at that meeting.

In the last few weeks, I've been talking to a lot of people, which is not what I want to spend my time doing. When Marc Albert gave his presentation [Annual Park Vegetation Management Workplan, an earlier agenda item] -- I've worked at every one of those sites for the last ten years. I've taken out Cape Ivy, I've been in Poison Oak; I've had literally 20 cases of Poison Oak -- you are utilizing my abilities in the wrong way. However, I do have to do this now. As I've been talking to people for the last three weeks about a rally we're having, people have been asking me, "What’s been happening with the Park Service?" We've been getting a lot of reports that people are being cited and ticketed; what you told us in January was that people would not be cited and and that we would have a process going on within the next 120 days -- 600 people waived their right to speak in January on the condition that you were going to work with us fairly. Now, whatever this is called, the ANPR or whatever it is, you know, I quite frankly don't give a shit about the "public process" -- or, the federal process, because I've realized that the Park Service is behaving -- has become a Trojan horse. And, I'm almost done with my three minutes.

We supported you, and I supported you in particular, doing habitat restoration and, putting, you know, saving all this open land. And what's happened is that the federal rules and regulations, which we have very little influence over in our little jurisdiction here, have come in and, you know, basically bitten us in the butt. And excuse my language, but, quite frankly, I know where every tool in the Park Service is, and I have not used any tools to do any damage to any object in the Park Service, because I'm using the public process in the way it was designed. But you are really pushing a lot of people to the point where we're going to have to start doing civil disobedience if we don't start getting a fair and equitable response from you.

I'm going to formally ask you now to schedule the dog policy for September, to give every person, every one of those two thousand people who were there in January a chance to hear what you have to say about it.

Thank you.

Michael Goldstein:

Good evening, Commissioners. My name is Michael Goldstein.

I never received any response to my question at your April 24th meeting. To remind you, I wanted to know whether this Commission had approved a letter which was signed by your Chair, Rich Bartke; and Vice-Chair, Amy Meyer. The letter, which was on your website and published in local newspapers, claimed that the Commission's 1979 Pet Policy "had been declared invalid and was no longer in force."

If the policy was not in force, then why was there a "stealth motion" -- not on the agenda -- to rescind it last November?

And, when that motion was objected to and found out of order for not being on the agenda, then why was it placed on the January 23rd agenda -- if the 1979 Pet Policy was not in force?

Clearly, the GGNRA has permitted off-leash dog recreation for decades.

When this off-leash recreation was threatened by the motion to rescind the 1979 Pet Policy, over a thousand people showed up -- and you might contrast that to nine letters that you received on one topic tonight, and a hundred people that showed up at a meeting in Sausalito, not that those are not important, but when a thousand people and almost all of your Board of Supervisors in your city here show up, that is important -- most of whom were locked out by police from attending your January 23rd meeting at the Golden Gate Club. After hearing from fewer than fifty of these thousand people who wanted to speak, the Commission cut off further speakers.

The only reason these people accepted being denied the right to speak was the Commission's decision to table the motion for a 120 day period -- during which there were explicitly to be no changes in policy or enforcement.

Instead, while announcing a complex and lengthy process known as Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the media, the National Park Service made immediate changes on the ground, posting new signs which state, "Pets on Leash."

Today, I see that a new publication has just been issued, entitled, "Enjoying the Park with Your Dog on Leash." This is a complete rewrite of the 1979 Pet Policy. It goes into great detail, including a map and details on whether dogs are totally banned, or allowed only on leash, in each of 20 areas of the GGNRA. Except, that policy was the result of public input, discussion, and negotiation over several years -- not accomplished by management fiat, as is this new brochure.

As you know full well, the thousand people who tried to speak to you were overwhelmingly opposed to rescinding your 1979 Pet Policy. Admit reality -- you could not, politically, rescind that policy -- neither by Stealth Motion in November nor in the face of enormous outcry in January.

Now, through the signs and the new "Enjoying the Park with Your Dog on Leash" brochure and website publication, the management of the GGNRA has made a complete end-run around this Commission.

Again, I ask, did this Commission approve the "Letter to the Editor" by your Chair and Co-Chair? If so, was this done at a properly noticed, public meeting?

And, are you trying to claim that you did rescind your 1979 Pet Policy, when, in fact, you had it on your January 23rd agenda and most certainly did not vote to rescind it?

Please, don't let the GGNRA management accelerate its campaign against off-leash recreation without holding a public hearing.

If you do choose to do the right thing, please choose a venue that respects the citizens whom you've already locked out before. I see that there are facilities such as Herbst Pavilion and Festival Pavilion, just down the hill at the piers here at Fort Mason, which can easily accommodate large numbers of people.

Don't fence us out, don't lock us out -- do play your role as an oversight body.

Thank you very much.

John Keating:

Good evening. I’m John Keating. Just to follow up on what Mr. Goldstein was saying, when Senator Bible was giving his testimony and describing the specific intent for you folks as serving on the Advisory Commission, what they describe as the intent is that the Advisory Commission is there to protect the federal bureaucrats from running roughshod over the public. That’s your job.

I want to, tonight, warn you about how this accelerating campaign against recreation, specifically off-leash recreation, in the GGNRA, is going to cause problems – for you.

While Supervisor O’Neill -- Superintendent O’Neill -- correctly predicts that you have a good chance for the Senate committee to pass a bill sponsored by a member of the committee, Dianne Feinstein, in a Democratic-controlled environment, of course, your chances of success in the critical House Committee on Natural Resources is very low, if you carry on the continued conduct of the GGNRA, which is hostile to recreational uses. And, the other half of the bill that you have before the Senate and the House, talks about the continuation of the existence of this committee. As you know, you have to be renewed; it’s set to be renewed for a twenty-year term. My understanding of the climate right now on the House committee is that you should be renewed, and you’re a good organization, if you, in fact, protect the public. But, if they catch you rubber-stamping efforts by the Park Service to restrict public access, I don’t think you have as good a chance of being renewed – and I think they will look into the makeup of the committee, as well.

Quickly, I want to go to the issue of what’s happened with this radical change in the Pet Policy. It is a radical change. You had a policy that worked well for twenty years, and it’s been unilaterally, completely altered. You do not need to make that radical change in the interim, while you’re studying the issue. The only reason to do that is if you have decided how you want it to turn out in the end, and you know that by making the change now, you have a better chance to get it, and that’s what seems to be happening.

The one thing that is clear about the case law in the area is that Superintendent O’Neill and the Park Service have the discretion to not enforce this new interpretation of the regulation – a different interpretation than they’ve had for twenty years, and now it’s expedient to have a new interpretation – you don’t need to enforce that new interpretation while you’re studying the issue. Cases are clear on that; we’ve provided that authority to the Park Service lawyers, I do not know if you’ve been provided with that.

I want to say: what is also clear is that you are required to have a public hearing. Now, the Park Service has given several excuses for not having a public hearing on this radical change that they’re making. One is that they “never adopted” the Pet Policy. That is simply inaccurate. Document after document confirms that the Pet Policy was adopted. The GGNRA made those representations to Congress repeatedly, it was included in the Management Plan, it has been adopted – there’s no question as to that.

The second argument the Park Service makes is that it’s illegal, because of this general regulation. Well, that’s an issue that’s been disputed, rather vigorously, and I want you to know that in the Fort Funston litigation, the Park Service’s lawyers repeatedly made that argument – and the Court rejected it. The Court did not buy the Park Service’s argument that they could avoid public hearings because they've had this new interpretation that this regulation applied. In fact, something very unusual happened in this litigation. The Court awarded the sanction of attorneys’ fees against the Park Service on an injunction – very rare. The reason it’s so rare is that the Court only does it, and is only allowed to do it, only has the discretion to award attorneys’ fees, when the government’s position has no substantial justification. The government can take a position and argue it, even if it’s not a very good position, if it’s wrong, it doesn't matter. They don’t have to pay public attorneys – attorneys’ fees – unless there’s no reasonable basis for it. And if the Court makes that extreme conclusion, then it awards attorneys’ fees. Now, the Court argued the – I’m sorry, the government argued – this general regulation application in the lawsuit, and the judge determined that there was no substantial basis for the government’s position. Therefore, the judge rejected it, and found that it wasn’t an adequate excuse to avoid the public hearings.

So, please, please, when you know the law applies, don’t seek to jump around it, or we’re going to be back where we were before. This time, not only are you going down the road of following the advice that took you down the wrong road before, but you’re doing it already have been censured by the Court.

Secondly, the argument by the Park Service that it doesn’t need to have hearings because the policy was never adopted is irrelevant to some extent, because public hearings are required if there is any restriction in the use that significantly changes the pattern of activity. So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re changing a policy, if you’re going to have the impact of a big restriction of use -- clearly, it will. You’ll also have to have public hearings if it’s highly controversial -- no one can argue that it’s not highly controversial.

My last quick point is: I understood today that these issues were being briefed in a San Francisco committee hearing. [Commission Member Jack Spring, Chair of the Commission’s San Francisco Committee, had mentioned without any elaboration in his committee report earlier, that the committee had heard an update on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) process.] We’re not able to know what’s said there, so we can’t advise you if we think that you’re not getting accurate information.

The only person who has been truly impartial, who has looked at the quality of information being provided by the park staff, was a federal court judge – a noted environmentalist, before he came onto the bench – and what he said is that it was being railroaded, the information provided was skewed, and he took the unusual step of saying it was so skewed that he wouldn’t rely on the information that the Park Service provided, but that he needed to go and do an independent analysis of the documents.

So I ask you, please, please, get some independent analysis of this, and don’t go racing down to that end result when you don’t need to.

Thank you very much for your patience.

Rich Bartke, Chair:

Thank you. That concludes the speakers who have signed up to speak on non-agenda items…

[Later, after Commission discussion of other issues]

Edgar Wayburn, Commission Member:

I think that some answer should be given to the various people who’ve been speaking on a proposed dog policy. They have to know that this is not a local affair; this is a national affair, and there is, at present, there are notes, “Update on Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” on the pet policy. They can’t know, not too many of us know, that this has been in effect on a national basis for many years, and that the Superintendent achieved a minor coup when he got the National Park Service to entertain this method of dealing with it.

There’s been a great deal of discussion as to whether or not this park is doing its duty by all of the people who want to have recreation, particularly with regard to the dogs. And I think that we have an obligation to respond to these people and tell them that Golden Gate has gone farther than any other park in trying to meet this situation.

The opprobrium which has been heaped on the Advisory Commission is entirely ill-centered, because this Advisory Commission has not taking any action. It was what we did, in January, that caused the Superintendent to make... efforts to try to change the national parks, and Advanced Notice of Rulemaking is a part of that policy.

I don’t know whether this is going to satisfy the people who object vigorously, but our hands are at this moment tied, and I would suggest that they write to their legislators and write to the National Park Service in Washington to express their feelings, giving the same arguments they gave to us.

Rich Bartke, Chair:

Thank you. Any other comments? Amy.
[Amy Meyer follows up on other, unrelated topic.]
[Commission discussion of other issues]

Rich Bartke, Chair:

OK, thank you. Anything further?

Lisa Vittori: [from audience]

Can we ask that the dog issue be rescheduled?

Rich Bartke, Chair:

No. The Commission had its public hearing. The Commission took its action. As I explained at the top of the meeting, the Commission is advisory; we gave our advice to the Secretary of the Interior, through the local Superintendent, and the Superintendent is doing what he can to carry out that advice. There’s nothing further for this Commission to do.

The suggestion that we somehow misled the public is simply not true. The last time this came up, which was about three months ago, I had the verbatim transcript in front of me, and read from it, and what happened was exactly what happened in January. We have not changed course; we didn’t table it for four months --

Michael Goldstein: [from audience]

Did you rescind it?

Rich Bartke, Chair:

-- we, uh, we took our action, we voted, we made our recommendation, and that’s been passed on to the Park Service. That’s what this Commission is empowered to do, and that’s what we did. We heard you, we acted, as far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing more we can do.

Lisa Vittori:
[from audience]

So, in other words, we take our case up with Brian O’Neill?

Rich Bartke, Chair:

Oh, I assumed that you were speaking tonight to the Park Service, not to this Commission, because there’s no further role for this Commission until the rulemaking proceeds by the –

John Keating: [from audience]

If I may say, you have an oversight –

Rich Bartke, Chair:

[Asks Mr. Keating to use the microphone.]

Amy Meyer, Vice-Chair:

Oh!... [groans]

Lisa Vittori: [from audience]

Amy, I’m sorry, but we’ve got to do this…

John Keating:

It’s John Keating speaking. You have an oversight role. You can look into whether the Park Service is making radical changes that will destroy our park, in a lot of aspects in our park, and subverting public input, at any time, you can look into that issue. You do not need to accept the Park Service’s position that your policy, that they adopted and embraced for twenty years, is somehow unilaterally declared null-and-void and is no longer your policy.

Rich Bartke, Chair:

OK, we’ve gotten that message. And you’re correct, we do have an oversight role.

John Keating:

And if I may make one other comment, as to the ANPR process: in some circumstances, that’s useful. In most circumstances, it’s regularly regarded as a technique that’s used by an agency to get – to avoid having to make a rule, to avoid public hearings. If the Park Service did a proper thing, which was to have a public hearing on whether to change its current policy, they probably would not change the dog policy as it currently exists. If, however, they go through this ANPR process to determine whether to have any public hearings at all, they may very well use the same arguments they tried in the past, and even those that were rejected by the Court, they may use it now to avoid that public hearing process. And I think this Commission should look into whether the public input is being precluded, rather than enhanced. Thank you.

Rich Bartke, Chair:

Thank you. We are going to adjourn our meeting……

Hyperlinks added. Transcribed by Michael B. Goldstein. Corrections/questions?

Sign the Online Petition Against the Draft Citywide Dog Policy:
Click Here!

Ruby, Brandy, Scout, Ellie & Percy say, "Hell, no, we won't go!" into gravel pens.

Get your own red postcard / dogtags opposing draft dog policy:  Click here !

Print your own flyers on the City's Draft Dog Policy:  Click here !


Don't Let Rec & Park Destroy Our Parks & Our Communities

The Recreation & Parks Department's new Draft Dog Policy calls for fenced, grassless dog pens in our neighborhood parks. And they expect dog owners to help pay for them! They intend to force all of San Francisco's off-leash dogs and their owners into a maximum of .7% of the city's parklands and to ticket people with off-leash dogs in the remaining 99.3%!! If this policy is approved, it will be a travesty for dog owners and non: It will rob us of equal access to the parks our tax dollars pay for and will destroy the beauty of our precious open spaces. It will adversely affect every park in the city.

We only have until August 13 to demand a new and better policy, so DON'T DELAY!


WRITE! The public comment period is happening right now, and your written comments are urgently needed. You can see the draft Dog Policy on line and access all the e-mail addresses you need at Or call Rec & Park at 415-831-2084 to have a copy of the policy sent to you. Write from your heart. Tell them what you want! Tell them what your park means to you.

Send your comments to:

Public Relations Department -- Dog Policy
San Francisco Recreation & Park Department
501 Stanyan Street, SF, CA 94117

Copy your letters to:

Mayor Willie Brown
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Please copy SFDOG on all correspondence:
P.O. Box 31071
SF, CA 94131
Your Supervisor (see table)
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
1) Jake McGoldrick
P: 554-7410 F: 554-7415
2) Gavin Newsom
P: 554-5942 F: 554-5946
3) Aaron Peskin
P: 554-7450 F: 554-7454
4) Leland Yee
P: 554-7752 F: 554-7751
5) Matt Gonzalez
P: 554-7630 F: 554-7634
6) Chris Daly
P: 554-7970 F: 554-7974
7) Tony Hall
P: 554-6516 F: 554-6546
8) Mark Leno
P: 554-7734 F: 554-7739
9) Tom Ammiano
P: 554-5144 F: 554-6255
10) Sophie Maxwell
P: 554-7670 F: 554-7674
11) Gerardo Sandoval
P: 554-6975 F: 554-6979

Rally! Rally! Rally! Rally!

Come to a Rally to Protest the Dog Policy!

Friday, August 3
4:30 - 7:00 pm
Civic Center Plaza
(the park across from City Hall)

More info & download flyers: Click Here!

Tell Rec and Park the Draft Dog Policy is:

DESTRUCTIVE - Dog pens will destroy our park communities and ruin the beauty of our parks by chopping up open space and replacing grass with gravel.

DIVISIVE - It segregates dog owners from other park users, and fosters intolerance by treating off-leash recreation as dangerous and unsightly.

UNFRIENDLY TO FAMILIES - Dog pens make a family outing all but impossible, forcing busy, dog-owning parents to find separate blocks of time to play with their children and with the family dog.

INEFFICIENT - There is too little parkland in San Francisco to partition off any more space for single use.

INADEQUATE - It allocates a maximum of .7% of San Francisco's city parkland for more than 100,000 dogs. And it does not take into account the variety of off-leash experiences that people enjoy, from jogging to playing Frisbee to picnicking to water play. Dog pens narrow our recreational choices to one: standing in the dirt while our dogs try to exercise without colliding.

EXPENSIVE - Dog pens and widespread enforcement are a waste of taxpayer's money and police officers' time. Why build pens no one will use when there's not enough money left over from Props A & C to upgrade irrigation systems and other park facilities?

UNREALISTIC - The vast majority of dog owners will not use the dog pens. And they certainly will not pay for them. Enforcement cannot be sustained. The Recreation and Park Department will be back to square one in a year.

ILL DEFINED - The draft policy fails to explain how 100,000+ dogs and their owners will use so little space. It places enforcement before expansion, and places so many restrictions on siting of off-leash areas that few are likely to ever be developed, particularly unfenced trail areas.

PUNITIVE - The policy punishes responsible citizens for the actions of a very few irresponsible ones. No one would suggest banning driving because some drivers run red lights, or banning teens from the park because some vandalize property.

INSULTING - The Pet Policy does not respond to the immense amount of input that dog owners have given the Recreation and Park Department over the last few years. It places the recreational needs of this huge segment of the population -- probably the single biggest and most dedicated group of park users -- after every other conceivable form of recreation. It treats dog owners like criminals and off-leash recreation like a crime.

GGNRA Expansion Proposal discussion

Letters on Draft Citywide Dog Policy

Deadline for comments has been extended
to 5:00 p.m. August 13, 2001.

Get involved!
More details on the policy and how to oppose the draft plan:

send your letter to:

Dog Policy
San Francisco Recreation & Park Department
McLaren Lodge
501 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Please send a copy to:
SF DOG, PO Box 31071, San Francisco CA 94131
or e-mail copy to:

The Recreation & Parks Department has violated the trust of the people of San Francisco.

Multiple dog advocacy groups and other organizations like the SPCA have spent the last several years trying to be a part of a combined solution. Yet the Recreation & Parks Department has issued a draft policy that ignores these views completely. Both the San Francisco Dog Owners Group (SFDog) and the SPCA have issued press releases this week that reject this proposed policy in the strongest possible language.

In effect, none of the compromises and solutions agreed to by dog advocates made it into the draft policy. We were ignored.

This City has an estimated 120,000 dogs. The lands now governed by the GGNRA - traditionally used for dog recreation - are shrinking as a place to walk our pets. That is a battle that is still underway, but now our very own City Government is proposing a policy that will further limit our ability to walk with our pets. This walking goes well beyond just our pleasurable recreation, as important as that is. It's vital to the health and well-being of our dogs - and especially to the socialized
good behavior of those dogs.

It's amazing that all the City's most knowledgable people about dogs - from the SF Police "Doggy Court" to the head of the SPCA - have stated publically, on the record, that MORE space needs to be made available for dog recreation... and yet the Recreation & Parks Department is so thick headed as to propose this latest pile of rubish that they are trying to call a "policy."

Frankly, it is them that needs to be leashed. At a minimum, they need to remember that this is not a public policy need that can be covered over quietly. In January, when the GGNRA tried to ban off-leash dog recreation on GGNRA lands, well over 1000 people practically stormed the meeting - in the rain - to have their voices heard. That kind of a constituency is hard to ignore in a real political arena.

Many of you have been very receptive to hearing about these issues in the past. I implore you to do so now, and take immediate action to bring the Recreation & Parks Department to the table to revise their proposal - and this time, to actually listen to the people. After all, they can listen around the table now, or listen to another 1000+ strong chanting, and pounding on the windows later. I'm sure we all agree that the former is a much more effective and productive way to design and
implement public policy.

Thank you for your time.



Someone or several someone's in the Park & Rec bureaucracy has unquestionably lost their minds. The task of providing them serious adult supervision, a glass of warm milk and a hug falls to each of you, and indeed, to the entire Board of Supervisors as well. Most of you have been very supportive of Dogs in the past and I hope you will continue that good work.

The essence of the Dept.'s new off-leash policy is that Dogs are filthy, dangerous public menaces, without redeeming social value, to be roped by the neck at all times in public parks save for a few precious square feet of sorry turf in a few select areas. The result of the Policy is that the tens of thousands of voting age San Franciscans who choose to have Dogs in their lives are stripped of their freedom to enjoy a walk in the park with their "'family." [Ironically, Dogs can walk OFF LEASH all the way TO the park, but once inside the Dept.'s jurisdiction, they must be roped at the neck. How would each of you like to go about your holidays in the park and "do your business" with someone holding you by a short rope around your neck?]

And for what reason? To what end? Because a relatively few (very few) people do not pick up after their Dogs in the parks? Because rarely -- very rarely -- an aggressive Dog threatens, frightens or bites someone in the Parks?

Well, if that is the case, then perhaps the Dept. policy does not go far enough. They also need to completely ban young people from the parks, or at the very least confine them at the end of a rope or to small razorwire pens in each park. Frequently, very frequently, these young people scrawl graffiti, move drugs, molest young girls, trash restrooms, drink, tear down basketball and tennis court nets, and have loud late-night parties in the parks. Dogs -- even if turned completely lose and unsupervised -- don't do ANY of those things.

And of course the Dept. should immediately decree that the homeless have their neck ropes and pens too. I do not think that any San Franciscan needs to be told the things that the homeless do in the parks, often in the presence of impressionable children. Even Dogs don't do those things, not even to each other. And unlike the Dog population, statistics have it that at least 40% of these humans have serious mental and substance abuse problems, and are a danger to themselves and others. Surely pens and ropes for the homeless in our parks are the answer here, too?

Organized sports teams should also be banned or neck-roped and penned. Does the Dept. have ANY idea the turf damage caused by the typical softball, baseball or soccer game? The filthy spitting and "nostril clearing" that goes on during a typical game? I have personally watched park employees spend hours every day repairing the destruction these "organized gangs" cause; such damage repair is even in the Dept.'s budget! [Why they do not budget to clean up after my Dog is not the question -- I gladly do that, at no cost to my fellow taxpayers.] And have they ever seen the mountain of beer bottles, pizza boxes and other assorted trash left by the average softball team after a typical game? Dogs don't do that. Indeed, I have to be on constant guard to be sure my Dog does not eat some of the grotesque
things humans leave in parks -- and everyone with a Dog knows what I mean.

Dogs come to the park, they sniff a lot, poop a little, pee a little, romp a little with their family and other Dogs, maybe chase a ball or a Frisbee. All under supervision of adult humans who care about them and their welfare, the vast majority of whom pick up after their Dogs, prevent or promptly stop any occasional acting out by their Dogs, and after a short while -- usually no more than a half-hour or an hour -- take their Dogs back home. And if a Dog should rarely get "out of hand," there is an adult human on the spot to whom any offended party can immediately complain and call to account.

Not so for teenagers, homeless, thugs and the other miscellaneous human crud that uses and abuses our parks. They have no adult supervision, no one to "report them to," and unfortunately no one to take them home at the end of a leash. And unlike Dogs, who by their nature are people friendly unless trained or abused by humans to be otherwise, this flotsam is not always dependably safe to be around. Most people I meet on my Dog walks in the park will engage my Dog in conversation or give her a loving pat. I don't see them doing that to the homeless or the punks that travel, play or sulk there.

The only reason I can guess as the genesis of the Dept.'s misguided Dog policy is that the small, rabid anti-Dog faction has gotten to them. They apparently think that because one young woman was killed by an abused Dog that it is now open season on Dogs and the people who love them.

I want to quietly and clearly state here that they -- and the Dept. -- could not be more wrong or misguided. Let me summarize my sentiments which I know are widely held by every San Francisco and Bay Area family with a Dog:

-- Our Dog is a vital source of joy in my family's life.
-- We love and treasure her far more than all but a few people.
-- While I am a peaceful person committed to nonviolence, I shamefully confess that I would probably kill any required number of human beings if that was necessary to protect her from harm.
-- She is well-trained, friendly, obedient, bothers no one, spreads her joy and happiness and gives her love unconditionally (even more so if you have a treat in hand).
-- I am a registered voter who votes every election without fail.
-- In the spirit of Chicago where I was born and spent a few years, I go to the polls on election day not for better government, which is one of Life's little illusions, but to reward my friends and protect my interests.
-- When it comes to my Dog's interests, I am a single issue voter, and not the least ashamed about it.
-- I vote for people who expand my Dog's rights and freedom. If a politician fails to promote, protect and enhance my Dog's interests, his or her Opponent will get my vote, even if he is a three-strike felon.
-- If I cannot vote for pro-Dog politicians because I am not in their district, I give them campaign money.

Please do whatever you can to void this inane policy and replace the fools who drafted it. Please act to open ALL areas of every City park to off-leash dogs under supervision. Please do not ignore the Dog lovers of San Francisco or support those in Park & Rec who want to hang Dogs by the neck in the public parks that my tax dollars pay for. Please come to see all the voters at the demonstration for Dog Rights being planned for August 25. [Editor's Note: This was Critical Mutt, which was re-scheduled and occurred on Aug. 3rd.]  I hope each of you get all their votes.

Very, Very sincerely,

Bob Edwards
San Francisco

Click here to read the Full Transcript of Tuesday June 12th Press Conference with Mayor Willie Brown and Parks Manager Elizabeth Goldstein announcing the Draft Citywide Dog Policy.

Sat. June 16 Clean-Up
at Dolores Park
with comments on
draft S.F. Rec & Park Dog Policy

Get involved! More details on the policy and how to oppose the draft plan:

City and County of San Francisco
Neighborhood Services and Parks Committee
Tuesday, June 5, 2001
Members: Supervisors Leland Yee, Tony Hall and Gerardo Sandoval
 click here
to view and/or print the transcript

 Fort Funston DOG   
SF DOG  Crissy Field Dog  
Green Friends    CAL DOG

Write Gale Norton,
Secretary of the Interior,
1849 C St.
Washington DC 20240

Click below to send E-mail:

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GGNRA Comment Form

Table of Contents


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Off-leash dog walking on GGNRA land is NOT illegal activity!

Long-standing policy and historical use set precedent for off-leash dog walking at Crissy Field, Fort Funston and other GGNRA Land

See: Legislative history for the 92nd Congress, Second Session, 1972, from the House Report, Section 1(c) of USC Section 16:

"As a national urban recreation area, this new component of the National Park System will be confronted with problems which do not frequently occur at other national park and recreation areas."(Page 4857)

"It is expected that the predominant use of the recreation opportunities offered by the Golden Gate National Urban Recreation Area will be the people residing in the nine county San Francisco Bay Region."(Page 4852)

"It is an ideal location for a national urban recreation area for many reasons, but foremost among them must be that the Golden Gate National Urban Recreation Area is located in the heart of one of the nation's major urban complexes."(Page 4851)

Our right to walk dogs off-leash arises from the Organic Act (16 USC 1c), the enabling statute for the GGNRA (16 USC460bb), and the promise made to the City in 1975 that "historical recreational activity" occurring on the beaches and contiguous parks would be continued, and from promises made to the community in 1995 while soliciting funds for the Crissy Field restoration projects.

The Organic Act of 1916 Section 16 USC 1c requires the National Park Service (NPS) to develop regulations consistent with specific provisions for each national park.GGNRA was established to provide "needed recreational open space necessary for urban environment and planning." 16 USC 460bb.To understand what Congress meant by "needed recreational open space necessary for urban environment" one must look to the legislative history of the enabling statute.

The use of these parks for off-leash recreation was specifically addressed during the House Hearings on the parks. One letter by a six year old child from San Francisco confirms that these beaches were intended to be used for recreation by children and dogs: "Dear Congressman Roy Taylor: I want a park so I can play in the park and my sister wants a park too and so my dog can play with another dog and my Mom wants a park so she could take my dog out to play. I hope you will make a park. Elizabeth Linke" House Report on Hearings, page 414.

The House Report also enumerates dog walking as a necessary urban recreational activity at Page 4852:

"On a nice day, it will satisfy the interest of those who choose to fly kites, sunbathe, walk their dogs, or just idly watch the action on the Bay." (Page 4852)

The City was promised in 1975 that "historical recreational" use like off-leash dog walking would be continued if the beaches were donated to the NPS.

The NPS through the auspices of the Citizens Advisory Commission developed a 1979 Pet Policy designating off leash areas because "ordinary guidelines outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations do not really apply in an urban area. People and their animals have been visiting the park for too long to apply an all-inclusive arbitrary policy."

In 1992, Stanley Albright, NPS Director of Western Region advised both Senators Cranston and Seymour that the 1979 Pet Policy was the official policy for the GGNRA.

In 1995 NPS promised San Franciscans that off-leash dog walking would be increased to 60 acres if they would donate money to development of the new restoration area at Crissy Field.

On March, 19, 1999, Superintendent Brian O'Neill advised Representative Nancy Pelosi in a letter that "GGNRA has adopted a pet policy that is more liberal than pet regulations at other national park sites throughout the country. In all other areas of the national park system, pets are required to be leashed at all times and are, for the most part, excluded from all but developed areas. GGNRA has, with the assistance of the park's Advisory Commission, established a pet policy that allows some opportunity for visitors to enjoy a few designated areas with their pets under less restrictive circumstances. Certain areas of the park have been designated as voice control areas where pets are permitted off-leash."

For over thirty years, NPS has admitted that off-leash recreation is a recreational activity "necessary for urban environment" as provided by the enabling statute. Under 16 USC 1c general provisions inconsistent with specific provisions of the enabling statute are not applicable. For this reason, the general regulation does not apply to this urban park, in the same way that it does not apply to those 45 parks where hunting is permitted.

Off-leash Dog Walking is not Illegal Use. The 1979 Pet Policy is not illegal.

Please let your voice be heard

Write to the GGNRA, to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, to local and state and national elected representatives in support of Off-Leash Dogs.

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