Hoping to help settle a two-year dispute over the use of Laurel Canyon Park, the Los Angeles Animal Regulation Commission on Monday unanimously voted to support a proposal by City Councilman Michael Woo to allow dogs to run free in the park during limited hours.
The commission sent its recommendation to the City Council's Recreation, Library and Cultural Affairs Committee, where the proposal has languished since May. The committee must first approve the plan before it goes before the Recreation and Parks Commission and the full City Council.
Woo's so-called time-sharing plan calls for the city--for a six-month trial period--to allow dogs to run unleashed from dawn until 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. until the park closes at 10:30 p.m. Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., only dogs on leashes would be allowed.
Under the proposal, a fenced-off section for dogs would be established in another park, probably Balboa Park in Encino, said Robert Rush, Animal Regulation Department general manager. He said Woo asked for the commission's endorsement of his plan in an effort to spur action on the issue.
"This is one of the most creative ideas to come out on this issue so far," Commissioner Arthur L. Margolis said.
Woo's plan represents a compromise in a long-running feud between dog owners and neighboring residents. The residents say having unleashed dogs in the small, four-acre park above Studio City interferes with their enjoyment of the facility, a spokesman for the councilman said.
"We hope this moves forward," said Jane Purse, leader of Park Watch, a group of dog owners who use the park. "We think it's somewhat overdue. We're eager to get on with it. We feel we can make a contribution to the city of Los Angeles by running a nice, clean park for dogs."
But Woo's plan has not pleased everyone.
"We basically oppose any form of a dog run there, due to the size and location of the park and the limited parking facilities there," said Elaine Kohn, vice president of the Laurel Canyon Parents Assn. "These things make it an inappropriate park for this type of activity because it interferes with other human activity."
Kohn, also a member of the Committee to Save Laurel Canyon Park, said homeowner groups have offered to support Park Watch in the implementation of dog-run areas in other, larger parks.
"We feel one appropriate park would be Griffith Park, due to the location and the size," she said.
The council Recreation, Library and Cultural Affairs Committee has not acted on Woo's proposal because of opposition from its chairman, Councilman Joel Wachs. The park was in Wachs' district until council boundaries were redrawn last year. It now is in Woo's district.
For more than a year, the committee also has not acted on another proposal to establish a dog run in the park because of opposition from Wachs. That plan was endorsed by the Recreation and Parks Commission.