As he left, Gries, who has a black Labrador retriever named Knuckles, said dogs have as much right to the park as anyone.
"If I had to keep Knuckles on a leash all the time, he'd die of depression," he said.
LaBonge has spent plenty of time trying to mediate the Runyon Canyon dispute. He still sounds optimistic. This month, though, his office began referring people calling about Runyon to the Department of Recreation and Parks, saying park officials will hold meetings and look for consensus.
"You have to bring everyone to the table -- to the picnic table in the park. Everyone needs to know what everyone's needs are. There are those who speak for the residents, those who speak for the plants, for the dogs, for the wildlife," said LaBonge. "We have to figure out how everyone can enjoy the park and enjoy the neighborhood together."
In the meantime, the parking lot project -- 30 to 60 unpaved spaces that park officials say would look like a garden -- is on hold.
And the sparring continues.
At the recent neighborhood council meeting, some attendees who wanted to talk about other things left halfway through, muttering, when they realized that the arguing over the park would never end.
Vista Street residents accused Outpost Estates residents of being selfish, fighting against the parking lot from the luxury of streets without a parking problem. Dog owners glared at residents. People repeatedly cut one another off in mid-sentence.
Leigh French, a Vista resident, said she'd survived an earthquake and cancer, but wasn't sure how much more she could take of life by the park.
"We've reached a critical mass," she said. "There are too many rats in the cage."