Friday, October 26, 2018

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors took the first step in amending County ordinance sections governing dog recreation to align with current dog management practices in designated San Mateo County Parks.  

The amendments reflect recommendations by Parks staff and the work of the Dog Management Committee along with changes made by the supervisors during the Oct. 23, 2018 Board meeting. The San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Commission appointed the Dog Management Committee as part of its efforts to update and clarify dog management policies and meet the Department’s mission to protect natural resources while providing recreational opportunities for all to enjoy. 

Pending further changes, the ordinance takes effect 30 days after the second reading scheduled for the Nov. 6, 2018 Board meeting.

The County opted to explore dog management options to make currently disparate approaches consistent.  Current County ordinance sections prohibit dogs in county parks. Yet, the Parks Department acquired properties from other agencies that allowed dogs on leash at Pillar Point Bluff and Quarry Park. Dogs have also been allowed on segments of Coastal Trail, including Devil’s Slide Trail and Mirada Surf, and the Bay Trail in Coyote Point.

The significant ordinance revisions are formalizing a management practice to allow dogs on leash in designated and signed areas and making non-compliance of specified regulations an infraction rather than a misdemeanor.  This includes dogs off leash, wildlife and plant interference, and owners not cleaning up after dogs.  Park rangers and other law enforcement staff always have discretion on the handling of individual incidences and issuance of citations. 

During the first six months of ordinance enactment, Park rangers will issue warnings for non-compliance.  Following that period, citations will carry fines $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $500 for each subsequent offense during a 12-month period. 

The Board of Supervisors also directed Parks staff to conduct a six-month-long pilot program to educate parks visitors about the new regulations and assess compliance. Additional studies to evaluate other park locations for dog access and possible off-leash areas are forthcoming.