Pacific Palisades Dog Park Campaign Stalled

By Sue Pascoe

This is a frustrating time for the people who have been working to establish an off-leash dog park somewhere in Pacific Palisades.

Currently, the closest L.A. City dog park is located off Barrington Avenue in Brentwood on Veterans Administration property. At a public meeting on April 20 at the VA, it was announced that the city is working to relocate the dog park to a yet-to-be-announced location off the VA campus and additionally downsize the current park by 50 percent, converting the eliminated portion to dedicated green space.

More than a year ago, in anticipation of the possibility of the Barrington Dog Park closing, resident Leslie Campbell started collecting signatures to support a dog park in the Palisades.

Leslie Campbell collected signatures for a dog park for pets like Oscar de la Wiener. Photo: Lesly Hall Photography
Leslie Campbell collected signatures for a dog park for pets like Oscar de la Wiener.
Photo: Lesly Hall Photography

“I did it off and on for six months,” Campbell told the News. “I presented my first 1,000 signatures to [Councilman] Mike Bonin in May 2016.”

She then got eight local stores—Collar & Leash, Palisades Vet Center, Paws n’ Claws, Instamart, Palisades Car Wash, Goorus Yoga, Dr. Condello and Black Ink—to post her petition.

“It was a real community effort, and I started to go to the animal rescue area at the Sunday farmers market when it was on Swarthmore and the pages started filling up!” Campbell said. “I finally burned out, but I could have easily gotten thousands more!” By the time incumbent Mike Bonin and challengers Mark Ryavek and Robin Rudisell were running for Council District 11, Campbell had collected 4,000 signatures from people who supported a Palisades dog park. Each candidate was aware of the overwhelming support and promised to support a dog park here, if elected.

On Jan. 27, 2017, Bonin submitted a resolution to the Arts, Parks and River Committee that stated: “I therefore move that the Council instruct the Department of Recreation and Parks to work with Council District 11 to establish a community-based Pacific Palisades Dog Park Working Group in order to assess potential dog park locations, identify potential funding sources, and conduct outreach to the community to create a plan for a dog park creation.”

In the meantime, Campbell suggested to the 4,000 people on her email list that they reach out to the candidates about a dog park, and they did.

In a Feb. 2 email, Bonin wrote Campbell: “I am getting a lot of emails in favor of the dog park—which is great—and most of them are encouraging me and my challengers to support ‘the motion.’ It is disappointing to me that the people being encouraged to send emails asking candidates to support ‘the motion’ have not been told that I am the author of the motion.

“If you speak to folks, please let them know I am on board, and that is why I made the motion—to support, encourage and move this effort forward.”

Campbell replied and suggested that if Bonin wanted petitioner votes, this was a perfect opportunity to respond to the emails and let people know he was the author or the motion. According to Campbell, he did.

Bonin easily won the March 7 election, receiving 19,099 of the 27,288 votes cast. On March 20, Campbell sent Bonin another email: “I just want to say congrats on your recent big election win! I am also happy that you reached out to my dog park emailers reassuring them that you would be following through on our PP dog park project. I would like to now know when action will be taken to follow through on the motion you submitted and when the committee will be formed.”

A week later, she received an email from Bonin staffer Debbie Dyner Harris that confirmed that the Department of Recreation and Parks would be forming a Palisades dog park committee and Campbell would be contacted when it happened.

At the Palisades Park Advisory Board (PAB) meeting on April 19 at the Palisades Recreation Center, the board expressed support for the committee per Bonin’s motion, but later learned it had never been passed and the Arts, Parks and Rivers Committee has until January 27, 2019 to act, and if they don’t it will expire.

PAB then passed a resolution that Rec and Parks work with CD 11 to establish a working group to assess potential locations and identify potential funding sources to create a dog park. The group felt it was necessary because there are no sites for off-leash dogs in the Palisades and owners are illegally using the park.

The News contacted Bonin spokesperson David Graham-Caso on April 25, who responded: “That legislation is waiting to be heard in the Arts, Parks and River Committee.”

Asked about the timeline, Graham-Caso wrote, “I will check in with my colleague in the chair’s office and let you know if they have a timeline for hearing Councilmember Bonin’s motion.”

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