• Dog Park

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    Recently, in an attempt to mitigate problems caused by citizens who parked their vehicles at the entrance to the fire roads at Rip Van Winkle Open Space in order to walk their dogs, Pacific Grove Public Works employees installed a chain across the access to the fire road and marked off spots along Congress Avenue with boulders and logs to delineate parallel parking spaces where there had been “no parking” signs before.
    Not good enough, according to the “dog walkers.”

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    A noisy, packed City Council chamber heard reports from dog walkers, some of whom brought their dogs and at least two of whom are City Council members, that the new parking areas are not only inadequate, but are dangerous to the public because of proximity to speeding traffic on Congress Avenue.
    An organized letter-and-phone campaign on the part of the dog walkers brought the matter to the attention of the City Council, which eventually voted not only to “receive the report,” but to establish an ad hoc committee to study possible alternatives to the current situation and to create a parking plan. The committee will include the user community. Councilmember Deborah Lindsay also pleaded with staff to remove the boulders and logs as soon as possible, citing potential danger to people and their dogs who have to navigate around them.

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    Adding to the scope of the problem was environmentalist David Dilworth, who pointed out that “removing a couple of trees,” as was suggested by many of the dog walkers, was not going to be a solution. Dilworth, armed with a map comparing historical forests and present-day range of endangered Monterey Pines, reminded Council and staff that the question would doubtless come under California Environmental Quality act guidelines.
    At a site review earlier in the day on Wednesday, Jan. 14, council members and staff saw demonstrations of the problems and heard Pacific Grove Police Chief Darius Engles report on the history of the open space, which was once owned by Pebble Beach Company.
    Over the past three years, the public has been illegally parking and driving in the fire lane area at the Congress Avenue entrance to Rip Van Winkle Open Space. They have also been parking along the road and driving over tree roots. Alternate access to the open space can only be gained by paying a fee ($9.50) to enter the Country Club Gate to Pebble Beach, or parking in the Methodist Church parking lot on Sunset Drive and fording a gulley. According to the dog walkers, many of whom are older people with constrained walking abilities, these other options are not workable.
    CalFire has repeatedly contacted the City asking that the practice of blocking the fire roads be discontinued so that the lawful fire access could be maintained. Three fire roads which converge there provide emergency vehicle access to Pebble Beach – and access from Pebble Beach to Pacific Grove as well.

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    At the site review, council members also heard a report from the City arborist that driving over the roots of protected Monterey Pines in that particular area was causing compaction of the soil around the roots and exposure of the roots, and that, over time, the practice of parking and driving there might kill the trees.
    The matter had been discussed at Traffic Safety Commission meetings and at meetings of the Beautification and Natural Resources Committee, both of which were open to the public. Public Works staff looked for alternative parking, according to City Business Manager Celia Martinez, and, finding none, did what they thought best. The plans had been advertised with the use of flyers passed out by then-committee member Bill Kampe, but dog walkers alleged that as the flyers were not “official,” they did not carry much weight.
    Questions which the City will attempt to address include the question of the area’s status: is it a park or an open space? Parking of vehicles in parks is not legal, and ways around that basic issue will need to be found. The effect on trees will be examined, and an environmental impact report may be required. Staff will also look into ways to mitigate speeding traffic on Congress, including options of signage, speed bumps, lights and Bott’s dots.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 16, 2009

    Topics: Front PG News


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