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Francine Podenski

Comments at 1/23/01 GGNRA Advisory Commission Meeting

My name is Francine Podenski.  I have enjoyed what is now known as the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with several generations of dogs during the 30 years I have lived here.

The National Park Service has, for some time, been pursuing policies that appear designed to eliminate traditional recreational activities within the boundaries of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area through a divide and conquer approach.  Examples of previous assaults upon our liberty and the pursuit of happiness include eviction of the long-established Muir Beach horse stables and horseback riding community, building a very large conference center at Fort Baker, ruining the Crissy Field public beach, and suggesting that hang gliding at Fort Funston be banned.

Culturally and historically in the United States there are certain traditions which are sacred.  Among those are motherhood, apple pie, and the family dog. More often than not dogs have resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C -- most recently Buddy resided there and currently Spot resides there.  This is a time honored American tradition --- a cherished way of life.  At the most basic level the issue we face here is a human quality of life issue.  Generally dogs don't take themselves to the park.  This is a family centered recreational activity, the lack of which negatively impacts not only our dogs, but entire families as well as our community.

This evening we are here to discuss the National Park Service's "kicking the family dog",  for that matter, "kicking the American family'.  The government itself has appropriated space within the GGNRA for off-leash training activities of their own dogs, but wishes to exclude local families from similar and traditional use.  Do as I say, not as I do did not sell in kindergarten, did not sell in high school, and has not sold well since.

Is it your intention to change our designated recreation area into something called "Golden Gate National Park"?  Do you really believe that you can totally ignore the original agreements under which we transferred San Francisco park lands to your jurisdiction?

If the National Park Service is for some reason unable to find a way to honor the original conditions under which we donated our lands to your care, please inform us now that you are incapable of --- or otherwise prevented from --- fulfilling your responsibilities in this regard.  Included in the original land transfer documents is a remedy for such an eventuality.  If absolutely necessary we are prepared to pursue this remedy.

You are not victims.  You are our representatives!  There is a perception among the people in this room that you all are involved in back room deals. Your job is to question park service attorneys when they give you information that contradicts the needs of the citizens.  If I can be of any help in finding solutions, do not hesitate to call me.

Thank you.

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