Looking for compromise
Dog-walkers and government agencies have been hashing out rules on the bluffs and Coastside parks for years. A new proposal would allow some limited off-leash dogs. Review file photo

Dog owners looking for spaces to recreate with their off-leash dogs are getting closer to an agreement with San Mateo County Parks. The plan is to launch a 12-month pilot project.

On Monday, the San Mateo County Dog Pilot Work Group met in Redwood City to discuss a set of recommendations it will present to the county Parks and Recreation Committee and the Board of Supervisors in the next two months. The group has been meeting for a few years to discuss with stakeholders the possibility of making portions of Quarry Park and Pillar Point Bluff open to off-leash dog walking.

Both the group and San Mateo County Parks Department outlined a final set of recommendations they will present to elected officials in hopes of launching a yearlong pilot project sometime this year. Last year, County Parks made off-leash dog walking a finable offense.

The work group disagreed with some of the County Parks recommendations.

Christine Corwin, president of Coastside Dog Owners Group of San Mateo County, did not agree with the county’s proposal that owners must have physical control of their dogs when approaching or being approached by other park users who do not have dogs. She said this is not what other park districts do and that it

implies the dogs are not under voice control.

“The Coastside is dog-friendly. We pick up trash and we are responsible,” she said.

Both the work group and county recommend that owners can only have up to two dogs off-leash at any time, dogs must be leashed in developed areas and when dogs are off-leash they must stay on designated trails and stay within view and earshot.

The two sets of recommendations will be considered at upcoming public meetings. The County is also waiting on an environmental review study and once that is complete a Coastal Development Permit will be required for change of use to the parks.

Pillar Point Bluff and Quarry Park were both coastal park properties that historically allowed dogs. When the San Mateo County Parks Department took ownership of the properties, the Board of Supervisors voted to amend an existing county ordinance banning dogs from parks to allow them in designated county parks.

In June 2019, County Parks launched a six-month on-leash pilot project at Coyote Point in San Mateo and Junipero Serra in San Bruno. The feedback, according to the County Parks Department, is that the program is going well and it will be extended for an additional six months.

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