While Beverly Hills has Rodeo Drive, The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Greystone Mansion, the one thing it doesn’t have is an off-leash dog park. Until now.
Residents of the small city (population around 35,000) have been asking for a place to take their dog to run around for over a decade. They were tired of making the trip to nearby Brentwood, with some calculating it took 45 minutes each way just to let their dog run free.
But the City Council kept running up against the same issue: There was no room in the 5.7-square-mile city. For the most part, it was built out. Residents kept pushing.
So on Nov. 17, the council finally voted to build the first off-leash dog park in Beverly Hills. It had found a piece of land on the corner of Foothill Road and Alden Drive that would suffice, but this decision came after months of contention from parties on both sides of the dog fence: those that opposed the park and those that wanted it.
After the City Council studied the various possibilities for the past five years, they dwindled down the potential dog-park spots to six. But with each site there was opposition and logistical issues.
In the end they decided on an area that would least likely upset opposition.
The spot is in an industrial zone surrounded by office buildings, meaning barking won’t disturb homeowners. There is a small animal hospital and a nonprofit animal rescue nearby. Sounds perfect. Not quite.
It is also one to two blocks away from four Orthodox synagogues. This group is concerned that constant dog barking at the park will disturb the peace at their sanctuaries. They are also worried owners may let their dogs off the leash prior to entry to the park and could pose a risk to the congregants walking to service. Plus, because the city is so small, they don’t want people who are trying to get into the park blocking the sidewalks.
But if this was the only option for dog owners, the group wanted a few rules in place. The park could only be for Beverly Hills residents, it had to be closed from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, a ranger must be supervising it and cameras installed.
In response to concerns, proponents of the dog park turned to the city’s major dog event, Woofstock, as proof that dogs could in harmony with each other and not bark, fight or be a disturbance.
And some dog lovers targeted the synagogues directly, including Frank Sinatra’s daughter Tina.
A representative of Sinatra’s read a letter during the meeting, which included the statement, “We all have fears. One of mine is that special interest groups will seek to manipulate the democratic process with self-serving fear tactics.”
Rabbi Pini Dunner of synagogue Young Israel responded saying, “To turn this into a campaign of dog owners against Jews and synagogues against dog parks … it’s just reprehensible.”
The City Council decided to meet the Orthodox Jews’ demands halfway.
The maximum number of dogs allowed at one time in the vicinity is 40. All dogs must be spayed or neuters, vaccinated and licensed pups whose owners live, work, own a business or are guests of the city. A park ranger will be hand for the first six months and the City Council may introduce key-card access. The park could be ready as early as this summer.
“This is something that our community has been waiting for for so long,” Lili Bosse, a Beverly Hills councilwoman, told the outlet.
Image via Flickr/Jim’s Photos1