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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Woof! Woof!

The Tribune ran an editorial Jan 12 on the proposed off-leash dog park down in the five cities area, “Let dog owners in Arroyo run with their idea.” One statement in the editorial was a perfect example of the curious thinking that surrounds dog parks and another, a perfect example of our curiously muddled approach to “private” and “public” spaces as well as an illustration of how degraded our idea of The Commons has become.

First, the editorial notes that it will cost $11,500 to build the park and about $4,124 a year to maintain it, a cost that is expected to be covered by a private group calling themselves the Five Cities Dog Park Association. Then the Tribune adds, “What puts the wag in our tail about this plan is that all of the improvements and maintenance won’t cost taxpayers a dime: donations from area businesses, service clubs and the 200-member association will foot the bill.” And then concludes, “This is an excellent example of what can happen when residents take responsibility for providing for special recreational needs, such as dog parks or community gardens, rather than looking to government to underwrite their desires.”

I volunteer on the Board of the group that created the first off leash dog park in the County at the El Chorro Regional Park off Highway 1. When we started that project about 7 years ago, I was amazed at how clueless people in this county seemed to be. Letters to the editor always concluded, --We don’t need parks for dogs! We need parks for people! -- the writers completely missing the point: Dog parks are for people who just happen to be with their dogs. Indeed, after the park was finally built, it was amazing to observe just how intensely social a place it was – not for the dogs, but for the people. In short, dog parks WERE people parks.

The second thing that became clear at the time was that “recreation” has been defined in a certain narrow way. When city or county departments of recreation and parks fund a baseball field, or soccer field or skate board park or kids’ playground equipment, they do so using public funds and nobody says a thing. Those activities are considered “public recreation,” even though very few people own in-line skates or a baseball bat. Indeed, I suspect that there are more dog owners in this county than there are skateboarders or baseball players. Yet using tax money for those forms of recreation doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

But here’s the Tribune on the proposed Five-Cities dog park: “This is an excellent example of what can happen when residents take responsibility for providing for special recreational needs, such as dog parks or community gardens, rather than looking to government to underwrite their desires.”

First, of course, community gardens are limited to those assigned a plot. The public is NOT invited to come in and pick tomatoes at will. Dog parks, on the other hand, are open to all the public. Indeed, you can enjoy dog parks and socialize with the people in dog parks even though you don’t own a dog.

But, can you imagine the Tribune editorializing that parents wanting a baseball field should “take responsibility for providing for [this] special recreational need” and go raise the money needed to build and maintain it?

Hence the ongoing problem of defining what “recreation” is and who benefits.

But there’s another, far more troubling reality at work throughout the country and certainly here in this county. The devaluation of The Commons, that is, the idea that there are certain things that we, as citizens, should hold and pay for in common since they offer all of us, in one way or another, a benefit.

But since the so-called “Reagan Revolution,” a counter philosophy has been at work, that of Privitization of the Commons, which says that, except for a standing Military, most everything else should be paid for by private funds. Want a park? Go build it yourself. Think Yosemite’s nice? Privitize it and charge people the market rates to go see it, just like Disneyland. It is this philosophy that’s at work in the Tribune’s description of a dog park – but not a ball field – as a “special recreational need,” forgetting entirely that a dog park IS a public park for people, exactly what the various taxpayer-supported Departments of Parks and Recreation are funded to provide – parks for people.

This distinction with no difference is exactly what allows various cities and counties to foist their Common responsibilities off onto the private sector. If the taxpayers no longer believe in The Commons and refuse to adequately fund public parks, (a real problem in this county, where Parks & Recreation, properly funded, could be buying up land for more parks but now has no budget to buy OR run them, a tragedy in the making once park land is eaten up by development and everyone – too late – stands around saying, Oh, well, too bad ), then the situation is simple: You want a park, go build it yourself – unless, of course, it fit’s our definition of “recreation,” i.e. baseball, soccer, playground equipment, THAT we’ll fund with tax money, but . . . dog parks? Oh, no, that’s a “special recreational need” and you’ll have to fund that yourself.

Fortunately, as we found with the El Chorro dog park, there is a middle way: Public/Private Partnering. The key thing that makes the El Chorro Off Leash Dog Park so successful IS the participation of the private sector, park users who help with maintenance, fund-raising, park improvements and amenities. It is their commitment to this particular form of public recreation that keeps that park such a wonderful place for anyone to go to and enjoy. This type of partnering can also help keep ball fields working, skate-parks safe and maintained, our own Elfin Forrest here in Los Osos clean and invasive-weed-free, and so forth.

So, Tribune Editorial Board, I hope you’ll stop and think a bit on what you mean by “special recreational needs.” The Five Cities Dog Park Association isn’t trying to build some private enclave just for them. What they’re trying to do, as PRIVATE citizens, is to build a PUBLIC park. And to do that, they need equal partnering from the county and the surrounding cities’ Parks and Recreation Departments.

After all, that’s what Parks & Recreation Departments are all about: Parks and Recreation for people, whether they’re holding a tennis racquet, a baseball bat or a dog leash.



.

16 comments:

Ron said...

The Trib wrote:

“This is an excellent example of what can happen when residents take responsibility for providing for special recreational needs, such as dog parks or community gardens, rather than looking to government to underwrite their desires.”

That coming from the same newspaper that wrote three editorials, including one on recall election day, supporting a sewer project that included over $2 million of government funding for stuff like community gardens and dog parks and amphitheaters, plus, the park element of the project was also dictating the mid-town location of the treatment facility, and adding multi-millions of dollars more to the project.

The Trib, gotta love their consistency.

Anonymous said...

Dog parks perform a great service. If you go to one fist thing in the morning, and run around in your bare feet, you are sure to step into "something". This will cause sensory stimulus and a brain jolt. It will make you very lucky, because nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day. It would be nice if ALL owners would pick up after their shit machines.

Anonymous said...

Well, there you go again, Ron. You have to draw the sewer project into every discussion. Why is this?? If Ann posted a column about Irish knitting, I'll bet you would find yet again, another way to work in the damned sewer.

I have heard of people who had $hit for brains, I guess you are a primary example.

You need some industrial-strength mental health.

Churadogs said...

Anonymous sez:"Well, there you go again, Ron. You have to draw the sewer project into every discussion. Why is this?? If Ann posted a column about Irish knitting, I'll bet you would find yet again, another way to work in the damned sewer.

I have heard of people who had $hit for brains, I guess you are a primary example.

You need some industrial-strength mental health."

As I read it, Ron was pointing out the Tribune's inconsistancy vis a vis private/public, using Tri W as an example of the inconsistancy.

I've posted other pieces here that were distinctly NOT about the sewer but posters consistently found ways to ignore what was posted and get the discussion back to The Sewer. That's happened countless times so I can only conclude that most people who bother to post here are only interested in The Sewer.

Occasionally, a poster will note that everything doesn't have to be about the sewer. But it's curious as to Why this particular Anonymous poster would go to the trouble to post such a thoroughly nasty personal attack on Ron, for no good reason.

Is somebody here having a bad hair day?

As for the other Anonymous' comment about going to a dog park to step in dog poo, in a well maintained park, you often have to look long and hard to find the poo to step in since that's the point of having volunteers and users constantly cleaning up. If Anonymous' real anger was actually meant for thoughtless people who walk their dogs on public streets and don't pick up after their dogs, I couldn't agree more. That's why God invented the little plastic sleeves the Tribune (and LA. Times) comes in. Makes a perfect poop picker-uper.

Sept d'un coup! said...

Hey Churadogs:

Then there are the dog owners who let their dogs poop in their back yards, do not pick up immediately, and the poop smells and draws flies which lay eggs in the poop. Then the flies fly off and go next door, land on food, counters, babies, etc. How poop free is your back yard? Never mind the public streets. Got flies?

Ron said...

An Anon wrote:

" You have to draw the sewer project into every discussion."

Any mention of park funding in Los Osos will forever be interconnected with the Tri-W location. Forever.

In fact, I kept waiting for Ann to bring that up in her main post, but she never did. I thought that's where she was going the entire time I was reading her column. There is so much overlap between park funding and the Tri-W selection that I was a bit surprised it never came up.

Trib editorial mentioned Dog Park funding? Yep.

Tri-W project contained a $690,000 Dog Park? Yep.

Trib editorial mentioned Community Gardens funding? Yep.

Tri-W project contained a $21,000 Community Garden? Yep.

(It also contained a $970,000 play area... had to sneak that in.)

Park funding is the tap root of your entire controversy. When Measures E-97 and D-97 failed in 1997, and the powers that be in Los Osos (that happen to also be extremely strong parks advocates) realized they would never obtain any park funding through the ballot box -- due to that "Reagonomics" notion of park funding that Ann talks about -- they were forced to go to Plan B on the park funding thing, and tuck it into the sewer project. The evidence for that is overwhelming.

If you really want to gain some perspective on Ann's topic in her main post, there is no better example than the Tri-W/park-funding connection. It's excellent. You can learn so much from it.

Waaaaaay back in Three Blocks, in 2004, I wrote, "Los Osos, if
you want a park, then plan, fund, and build a park, as they did so gracefully with the dog park in El Chorro Regional Park, but you need a sewer."

That's not bringing up the sewer out of "Irish Knitting," that's the heart of Los Osos 2007.

Screwed and Tatooed said...

Ron:
The problem with spinning is that if you spin enough, no one will believe you. The same thing goes for liars telling the truth. By 2004 you were too late, associated with fools, and nobody was listening to you. Same thing for ANN.

Anonymous said...

Ron, these are your quotes:


"Any mention of park funding in Los Osos will forever be interconnected with the Tri-W location. Forever."

"........In fact, I kept waiting for Ann to bring that up in her main post, but she never did. I thought that's where she was going the entire time I was reading her column. There is so much overlap between park funding and the Tri-W selection that I was a bit surprised it never came up........."

".........That's not bringing up the sewer out of "Irish Knitting," that's the heart of Los Osos 2007...."


So Ron, if I am reading you correctly, if anyone on this blog or any blog even alluding to Los Osos, that mentions park, will be having a verbal assault by YOU, the self-appointed (NOT A RESIDENT) GURU, who shall make a DECLARATION concerning Los Osos WWP. Is that correct??

What a complete fool you are. I ask you, as I had asked you on your website, before you got scared, and quit taking public comment: Why NOT a park? No one would become incensed if there was a beachside (live ocean-with tides, etc.) facility that put in rest rooms, and a little landscaping and a park, for God's sake.

YOU and only YOU have been so FIXATED by the word, "Park", to the exclusion of every other thought. Were you scared by a park when a toddler? God, you have all the signs of some paranoid whose mother took him to the park and left him there. Is that what happened to YOU???

You have devoted years and years to lambasting a community **that you did not live in** because someone mentioned the word, "PARK!!!"

Well Ron, you need to either get some professional help about this, or realize that, no matter what, any use of Waste Water land for a PARK will be a good land use. Would you have the land lay fallow? Would you have a barren field? Would you have some ugly, unusable parcel, that COULD be used (on the top) for humanity??

AND, would you put up such a stink if any area within Los Osos was designated as park area, with restrooms, dog park, tot lot, etc.?????

NO, you are just some old curmudgeon who has decided you will dedicate your life to dissing an necessary project, on one of the only parcels left on which to place a WWP.

YOu need to get a hobby, or get a part time job, or something. YOU are not FIT to tell ANY area what the hell they may, or may not have on it. UNDERSTAND????

I realize that you wrote some hack article which appeared at least three years ago. BIG F*CKING DEAL!!!.

So what? I too, have appeared on the cover of the Sunday supplement, and on the front page of quite a few pieces in the Tribune, most of which was when it was called, "The Telegram-Tribune". I don't try to parlay that into some "famous authority" status, like you do.

Ron, you need to realize that you are not one of the Movers and Shakers. You are merely a has-been, who had one crummy article in one yellow rag. Nothing more, nothing less.

Your self-worship has gone on, for long enough. Go back in your hole, RON.

Anonymous said...

Another Anonymous says, I love this - "put up a stink" about a sewer park...great job, Anonymous !!!

Actually, what I hate is the CATS who jump the fence into my yard from all over the neighborhood to use my garden as a sandbox, if you know what I mean... .

Churadogs said...

"Sept d'un coup! said...
Hey Churadogs:

Then there are the dog owners who let their dogs poop in their back yards, do not pick up immediately, and the poop smells and draws flies which lay eggs in the poop. Then the flies fly off and go next door, land on food, counters, babies, etc. How poop free is your back yard? Never mind the public streets. Got flies? "

Couldn't agree more. If you have a dog, gotta do poop patrol at least 2x a day. someone else logged on to complain about wandering cats. Also a problem. Add in loud motorcyles, garage bands, yelling kids at play, horns honking, . . . Gosh, guess living in a city has some challenges.

Ron Sez:"In fact, I kept waiting for Ann to bring that up in her main post, but she never did. I thought that's where she was going the entire time I was reading her column. There is so much overlap between park funding and the Tri-W selection that I was a bit surprised it never came up."

What? A spoil all your fun? Naw.

and Another Anonymous sez:"So Ron, if I am reading you correctly, if anyone on this blog or any blog even alluding to Los Osos, that mentions park, will be having a verbal assault by YOU, the self-appointed (NOT A RESIDENT) GURU, who shall make a DECLARATION concerning Los Osos WWP. Is that correct??"

This one's really interesting. "verbal assault?" Please read Ron's posting then read this Anonymous' posting, and tell me again who's "verbally assaulting" whom? Interesting.

Ron said...

An Anon wrote:

"You are merely a has-been, who had one crummy article in one yellow rag."

Don't forget Problems with the Solution, in 2000. ; - )

"AND, would you put up such a stink if any area within Los Osos was designated as park area, with restrooms, dog park, tot lot, etc.?????"

Of course not. The irony? I think Tri-W would be an ideal place for a park.

Ann wrote:

"What? A(nd) spoil all your fun? Naw"

'ppreciate it.

Happy MLK day!

Ron said...

And 1 mo' thing:

What I find so interesting these days about the $690,000 dog park in the Tri-W project, is that in the Trib editorial that Ann refers to, it says the Arroyo Grande dog park is estimated at $11,500.

Los Osos, it sure sounds like you missed out on one sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet California-taxpayer-funded dog park.

*PG-13 said...

Churadogs > Couldn't agree more. If you have a dog, gotta do poop patrol at least 2x a day. someone else logged on to complain about wandering cats. Also a problem. Add in loud motorcyles, garage bands, yelling kids at play, horns honking, . . . Gosh, guess living in a city has some challenges.

Also, shooting & hunting on the bay, noisy neighbors, nosey neighbors, ATV's on public lands, pre-dawn lawnmowing, bicycles on roads meant for cars, horse poop on hiking trails, people walking on the dunes, not enough tables at Copa de Oro, children, teenagers, low tide, the farmer's market blocking the street, old boats left on the shore, new boats left on the shore, composting toilets (just getting ahead of the game), bikes without lights, fog, Diablo, teens at the skateboard park, Carlock's closed on Sundays, anybody cutting down a grove of trees on public land to improve their view, smokestacks in Morro Bay, birds on the golf course, elderly drivers, tofu, ......

Thanks, feel'n better already!

*PG-13 said...

PS - I do like butterfly's. Thank god we have butterfly parks!

*PG-13 said...

PPS - And thank god nobody cares about butterfly poop!

Churadogs said...

PG-13 ses:"PPS - And thank god nobody cares about butterfly poop!

1:11 PM, January 16, 2007"

Easily solved with a teeeeensy eeeeensy pooper scooper.