Earlier this month, the proposed plan for renovating Mission Dolores Park was appealed, challenging the environmental impacts of the proposed project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The seven issues the appellant raises which all boil down to the dogs with a reference to the childhood obesity pandemic for good measure or scare:

1. The number of existing and proposed dog play areas at the Park

2. Loss of open space

3. Hazards

4. Aesthetics

5. Hydrology and Water Quality

6. Traffic and Noise

7. Parking

The Planning Department’s response to each point:


RESPONSE TO CONCERN 1 (“off-leash dog play areas were hotly debated during the community outreach meetings and are by no means acceptable to many families with school-aged children who are using this park”):

The appellant asserts that the existing Park only includes one off-leash dog play area and, therefore, the project description in the PMND is inaccurate. The appellant bases this assertion on a Recreation and Park website that was provided to the Planning Department in prior communications between the two parties. The appellant is incorrect.

Under the proposed project, the existing two off-leash dog play areas would be reduced in size by roughly 4,000 square feet to an estimated 96,250 square feet.

RESPONSE TO CONCERN 2 (an increase in off-leash dog play areas at the Park would result in a loss of open space desperately needed “for children to run and play in order to stem [our] childhood obesity pandemic”):

As described in detail in Response 1 above, the proposed project would not increase the number or size of off-leash dog play areas at the Park, but rather would slightly reduce the size of the existing off-leash dog play areas.

The 0.8 acre reduction of “open space” described and analyzed…is attributable to loss in pervious surfaces such as turf or grass due to the addition of pathways and the reconfiguration of the athletic courts, among other changes and not due to the proposed project’s modifications to the off-leash dog play areas.

Moreover, the proposed change of 0.8 acres from pervious to impervious surfaces in the 16.1 acre public park is not a reduction in public open space. The entire Park would still be considered public open space.

RESPONSE TO CONCERN 3 (the increase in off-leash dog play areas at the Park would result in a significant hazard to the public and environment):

The appellant asserts that increasing the number of off-leash dog play areas at the Park would result in significant safety and health risk hazards through an increase in the number of dogs at the Park. As discussed in Response 1 above, the proposed project would not increase the number or size of off-leash dog play areas at the Park.

RESPONSE TO CONCERN 4 (the increase in off-leash dog play areas at the Park, “with their modern trappings of plastic bag holders,” would result in a substantial adverse effect on a scenic vista through substantial physical deterioration of the park):

The appellant asserts that increasing the number of off-leash dog play areas at the Park and associated other items (e.g., trash receptacles, bag dispensers, and drinking fountains) would result in a substantial adverse effect on a scenic vista through an increase in the number of dogs at the Park and associated other items. As discussed in Response 1 above, the proposed project would not increase the number or size of off-leash dog play areas at the Park.

The proposed project’s visible items associated with the off-leash dog play areas (e.g., trash receptacles, bag dispensers, and drinking fountains) would not be substantially tall or large enough to block views of prominent structures and features outside of the Park or noticeable enough to substantially change the foreground of the existing scenic vistas. Moreover, the appellant brings forth no substantial evidence that the proposed project would result in additional dogs at the Park, resulting in a substantial adverse effect on a scenic vista.

RESPONSE TO CONCERN 5 (the increase in off-leash dog play areas at the Park would violate water quality standards and pet waste discharge requirements):

The appellant asserts that increasing the number of off-leash dog play areas at the Park would result in a violation of water quality standards through an increase in the number of dogs at the Park. It is unclear what the appellant means by pet waste discharge requirements. As described in Response 1 above, the proposed project would not increase the number or size of off-leash dog play areas at the Park.

RESPONSE TO CONCERN 6 (The increase in off-leash dog play areas at the Park would create an increase in noise and traffic “as many more non-neighborhood professional dog walkers and dog owners are attracted as opposed to families within walking distance”):

The appellant asserts that increasing the number of off-leash dog play areas at the Park would result in an increase of noise and traffic through an increase in the number of non-neighborhood professional dog walkers and dog owners visiting the Park. As discussed in Response 1 above, the proposed project would not increase the number or size of off-leash dog play areas at the Park.

RESPONSE TO CONCERN 7 (the increase in off-leash dog play areas at the Park would result in inadequate parking capacity):

The appellant asserts that increasing the number of off-leash dog play areas at the Park would result in inadequate parking capacity through an increase in the number of professional dog walkers and dog owners that would make a vehicle trip to the Park. As discussed in Response 1 above, the proposed project would not increase the number or size of off-leash dog play areas at the Park.

On Thursday, San Francisco’s Planning Commission will hear the appeal and decided whether to allow the makeover of Mission Dolores Park to move forward as proposed or require additional environmental study.
The Grand Dolores Park Makeover Plan, Timing, And “pPod” Pissoir [SocketSite]
Supervisor Showdown: Wiener Versus Kim, CEQA, And Waste [SocketSite]
Appeal of Mission Dolores Park Rehabilitation and Improvement Project [sfplanning.org]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by wc1

    Nope – CEQA doesn’t need any changes.
    This NIMBY should be required to reimburse the city for costs associated with time wasted.

  2. Posted by James

    There’s also the appeal by the local historic preservation group angry about tearing down the restroom “clubhouse”. I hope Planning’s response to that is as direct and unequivocal as this one. Time to move on!

  3. Posted by LessThan6Percent

    With 16.1 acres of open park space, one would think there’d be plenty of room for one off-leash dog park. Idk how many different times they need to state that increasing the size or number of dog-runs is not in the planning for the reconstruction of the park, but just reading the backlash against pets suprises me. SF is a city that loves it’s dogs and healthy lifestyles. SF is a city that promotes health and wellbeing in many forms and for everyone, equally: children, adults, and pets. I’m suprised to see so much pointless negativity standing in the way of what could be a beneficial makeover for Mission Dolores Park.

  4. Posted by cbf

    Yup, we need to stop these delusional, ignorant NIMBYs from so easily holding up development in this city. As is often the case, the complaints aren’t even based in reality. It’s pretty funny.

  5. Posted by EH

    Doesn’t matter, we’re only a few short years before non-parents are banned from the south half of the park.

  6. Posted by Mike

    If you’re angry about this kind of thing, you should be emailing your supervisor to tell them that you want them to support Supervisor Scott Wiener’s CEQA reform (reform of environmental review process). His proposal will ensure adequate opportunity to challenge projects, but will prevent this kind of craziness.

  7. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    having read many wacko objections over the years to new libraries, remodeled piers, and expanded sidewalks let’s be honest, the objection is that remodeling the park, or what have you, might attract more PEOPLE making it less ‘their’ park and more a ‘public’ park.
    This is the same motivation of Malibu homeowners who try to deny the public access to ‘their’ slice of a the public beach.

  8. Posted by david m

    actually, even though this is an idiotic nimby complaint, the broader point about off-leash dogs is a good one. not to say that dogs are overgrown rats, but they do sort of degrade the quality of the streetscape and parks. it’s offensive that a single person could hold up a long-planned, multi-million dollar park renewal, but the basic issue of curbing/discouraging dog ownership is probably a good one.

  9. Posted by Anon

    These NIMBYS should be placed in front of a firing squad. And the Telegraph Hill jerks too. Jeez man. Sickening.

  10. Posted by jill

    i , for one, would like to see the vast majority of off leash spots in SF parks removed.
    Take your dog to golden gate park or fort funston or presidio or marin or san bruno mountain if you want to run him off leash. Dolores park is too small and there are children there as well.
    Children’s play area should always take precedence. plenty of more open space around in other bigger parks for dogs

  11. Posted by Jack

    I freakin hate off leash dog areas. But being a dogless family with a kid, I am in a minority in this strange town.

  12. Posted by wc1

    Keep the dog issue separate from this ridiculous complaint.
    She had ample time and venue to object. She waited until the last minute purposely to hold it hostage.
    During the meetings I was vocal that one off leash area was plenty and that it should have a small fence to make it clear that was the area that dogs were allowed to be off leash. The dog owners rule this town.

  13. Posted by sf_guv

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this whole thing is fake. Its too contrived. But then there is Sue Hestor as the living example of WTF lawsuits.
    And if its not, then it should be ignored regardless because its not a serious representation of legitimate concerns about the park.
    Its being subdivided into little squares and losing its cohesion along with what’s left of its peaceful park-like qualities — which were intact FYI well into the 2000′s.
    Before the bearded (L)asses of pot-laced foody-ism and perpetual tricycling swept into town on their burning horse.

  14. Posted by Anon

    Seriously. Millennials just looooove sitting in the park all day, drinking beer don’t they? Dolores Park is great and all but those kids made into an event or something. And all the littering is disappointing. I don’t know. I kinda feel like people don’t “get” the Mission. It is not wise to behave like some of these kids behave in the Mission …. But they’re gonna not get it for so long that they’ll change it.

  15. Posted by heynonnynonny

    In practice, the whole park is off-leash – maybe they could designate a picnic area and put a fence around that.

  16. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I see off-leash dogs running around the children’s play area all the time, I don’t know what the dog owners are complaining about. I have never seen a kid bitten or even knocked down though, so I guess it is all good.

  17. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    As if any dog owner in SF has ever been concerned with designated off-leash play areas. Leash laws mean the same to dog owners as stop signs mean to cyclists.

  18. Posted by Debtpocalypse

    Why, oh why, can’t a great canine plague envelope the planet?
    Were that said-plague should also be transmissible via dog saliva to an owner’s facial pores.
    Just sayin’….

  19. Posted by jill

    “As if any dog owner in SF has ever been concerned with designated off-leash play areas. Leash laws mean the same to dog owners as stop signs mean to cyclists.”
    My favorite comment on socketsite ever

  20. Posted by WhatTha

    Wait, you’re saying they’ll have a off-leash hipster play area? wow, cool.

  21. Posted by Rillion

    Never let your hister off its leash, it might pedal away on its fixie.

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