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Letters to the Editor
More Growling Over Dogs at Upper Noe
What If People Did the Pooping?
There was no attack on dog owners or dogs in my letter in the October Voice. I only stated the facts. What are the facts?
First, off-leash use of the field at Upper Noe Rec Center is illegal. The posted signs state "Keep Dogs on Leash." Some people have chosen to ignore the signs. This law may be viewed by some as a minor law, but it is up to all of us to do our part to keep society humming along by accepting that minor laws have meaning. Obeying the leash law is a social agreement, like not littering or not jaywalking or giving up the front seats on the Muni to a disabled or elderly person. We should not need a police officer or a rec center director or another citizen to remind us that public athletic fields, paid for by all taxpayers, were never intended to be used for dog recreation or as a dog toilet.
Second, because people are breaking the law (not living up to the social agreement), the field has deteriorated. Dogs enjoy digging, especially after they have gone to the bathroom. Their instinct makes them want to "clean up." Yes, we've had two very rainy winters. In fact, little signs were put up that read "Field Closed." The field was a mess from the weather, but there were also lots of off-leash dogs on the field, in spite of the signs and the leash law. The reason there was no baseball at Upper Noe during the spring of 1998 was that so many dogs had torn up the field, digging it up and running on it when it was saturated. That is also the reason the field was closed this spring for repairs.
Third, because people are breaking the law (not living up to the social agreement), the field is unhealthy. Let's be gross, but honest. If people were shitting and peeing on the field, the Health Department would close the field. Even if people did this and cleaned up after themselves -- and how do you clean up urine and shit residue? -- the field would be closed. Honestly, what is the difference between this outrageous scenario and what happens on the field right now with all the off-leash dogs? Think about it!
Fourth, the city has stated that it tried allowing dogs off-leash at certain times at other athletic fields, but it didn't work. Talk to the staff at Eureka Valley Rec Center. It would be nice if it had worked there, just as it would be nice if it could work at Upper Noe. But it didn't and it can't. Why can't it? Because this sort of use is basically what is already going on at Upper Noe. The bulk of the illegal off-leash use occurs before and after work, and the traffic has left the field in poor condition.
Lastly, the city is going to spend $50,000 to renovate the field and the ball diamond as part of the Mayor's Renaissance Park Program. Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of taxpayers' money, but the city has decided that the renovation of the field is an important improvement. As a compromise to the illegal off-leash use (remember the social agreement), the city is planning a separate fenced-off dog run on the athletic field. This is extremely fair. If some people think the dog run proposed in October by Joel Robinson and his staff is too small, they can go to Noe Courts. It is just a short neighborhood walk away.
Again, this is NOT an attack on dogs and dog owners. It is just the facts.
Park Safer at Night with Dogs
I am not a dog owner, but I take issue with Georgia Schuttish's letter concerning off-leash dogs at Day Street Park [the Upper Noe field]. I have lived in Noe Valley for 15 years, and this park has never been an ideal playground for children. The problem isn't the dogs but the field itself. It doesn't drain properly and in the winter it is a swamp. In the summer there is a residue of chemicals and fish fertilizer on the grass which would not be conducive to the Easter egg hunts or parachute games that Georgia mentioned. Another problem is that the park isn't safe, not just for children but for anybody.
I know of a company who used to play baseball there, but when one of their employees was smashed over the head by a gang member, they never went back. There is also evidence of drug-dealing at the park. Along with the lime and fish fertilizer, there are hypodermic needles and broken glass in the grass.
Since Day Street Park is the only green space within walking distance of my house, I go there often. But I go with a dog that I borrow for companionship and safety. The presence of dogs and their owners has improved the atmosphere in the park in recent years, and now I don't feel afraid after dark.
I also feel that the dog owners have compromised by agreeing to limited hours at the park -- before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. There are very few athletic events during those times. Instead of blaming dogs, let's work together to make the park a safe place for all of us to enjoy.
Sniffing Out a Solution
Thanks for your excellent coverage of the off-leash dog issue at Upper Noe Rec Center. There are several important points that the Upper Noe Dog Committee feels must be made to clarify this volatile issue.
First, this is most emphatically NOT an issue that divides dog owners and parents! Most of us are parents, and all of us are families. Only a few individuals are trying to divide our neighborhood.
And contrary to what has been implied, there is no division among the leaders of our group. We all agree that any proposal that accommodates the entire community merits serious consideration. At the same time, we all are very concerned about the community losing its historic on-leash access to the field.
In addition, we are opposed to the currently proposed dog-run area because it is far too small (it is much smaller than the 30 ft. by 200 ft. area suggested in your November story) and consequently does not allow for safe and satisfying recreation for our dogs or us. Rec and Park chief Joel Robinson has already been advised of this problem by his own park supervisors, who are also grappling with the unwieldy removable fence idea. The real problem is that any dog run that is too small is counterproductive and will be ignored.
Nevertheless, we look forward to working with Mr. Robinson and his staff. You see, we can sniff and wag at the same time!
We feel strongly that responsibly sharing the entire field before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. is a far better plan for everyone. It is poor drainage, not dogs, that will inevitably hurt the new sod.
No Broccoli for Me, Thanks
On the morning of Nov. 8, I passed my weekly time at the 29th and Church laundromat, sitting outside and reading the angry responses in your paper to Georgia Schuttish's letter about irresponsible dog owners. While I read on the laundromat bench, a huge hound was tied very loose-ly by a piece of fabric to a parking meter. Shortly thereafter, a woman came along to feed the meter so that her car would not be ticketed. The dog, snarling with bared fangs, launched itself at her to bite, barely missing the woman. This caused the dog owner to saunter out of the laundromat, full of concern about what had disturbed his dog, ignoring the woman.
Walking down Church, to go home with my laundry bag, I passed the produce store on 30th, where a truck was being unloaded. As the driver had his back turned carrying another box, one box of vegetables was copiously urinated on by a wandering, unattended, unleashed dog.
I join Georgia Schuttish in feeling that children, even people, take precedence over pets, and over those who prefer now to be called their guardians, who too often are themselves hairless apes whose cages need cleaning.
Unless That Pup Can Play Shortstop
We are writing this letter regarding the issue of the proposed dog run at Upper Noe Valley Playground. The separation of dogs and the athletic field is an excellent idea. We have many children participating in various sports at the playground, whether it be in a parish-organized practice or a playground-organized activity.
Many complaints have been voiced by parents, about their children leaving the field with dog feces on their clothes and shoes. If dogs are to use the field, they should have an area separate from the children. If the dog people need a larger area, they can go to many nearby places. Athletic fields and dogs do not mix!
St. Paul's Parish Athletic Board
Of Bus Zones, Bus Bulbs, and
Although I work for Muni as a transit planner, I'm writing on my own behalf, not as a representative of Muni.
Evidently people in the Noe Valley Merchants Association, with at least some support from other neighborhood groups, are recommending that current bus stop zones (the red curbs with the white boxes painted on the pavement) be converted either to bus bulbs or stop bars.
So far as I can tell, the reason for wanting to convert stops on 24th Street is to allow more curb parking; the reason on Castro is to allow for conversion of existing curb parking to angled parking.
I don't think that parking problems caused by automobile users should be solved at the expense of bus riders. Bus riders are part of the solution, not part of the problem. For bus riders, bus zones work a lot better than simply having a stop bar painted in the street. Even if the bus driver does not pull all the way to the curb, the zone still makes it easier for riders to get on and off, since most of the time the zone is clear of automobiles.
Bus bulbs, when done properly, help both bus riders and bus drivers. However, they cost money to install and take time to construct.
On the other hand, angled parking, especially in shopping districts, makes driving more difficult and dangerous, both for bus drivers and automobile drivers.
Flocking to the Film Festival
We just got some great shots of "our" Noe Valley/Mission parrots for IDG's film-in-progress, The Wild Parrots of San Francisco. Although the main focus of the documentary is the conure flock on Telegraph Hill, we want to show the canary-winged parakeets as well, because they were the first flock to establish themselves in the city, and because, well, because I live in Noe Valley! Plus, they're really cute: they're smaller than the conures and they're entirely green except for some yellow on their wings.
Clipper Street resident Kim Bullis put me together with Susan Sun, who allowed me to film from her fire escape last week. The flock showed up and showed off for the camera, wheeling and screaming away. (P.S. If anyone has good, clear sound re-cordings of the flock, I could really use it.)
Meanwhile, Mark Bittner has moved out of his cottage on Telegraph Hill. We filmed his last feeding of the parrots, his move, and even the construction crew cutting down the small tree the parrots used to perch in when he fed them. Mark is staying with friends in Oakland, but he would love to find a house-sit or caretaker situation in the city.
Now that we've finished principal photography, we need "origin-of-the-flock" stories. If you think you know how either flock got started, call me at 824-5822.
Finally, if you need a tax write-off for this year, I'm looking for finishing funds for the movie -- it's a nonprofit, charitable project with 501(c)(3) tax status. Better yet, I'd love to find someone who loves this city and its wildlife to become executive producer for the film and accompany me to Sundance! (Our earlier film Dark Circle won the Grand Prize at Sundance.)
Independent Documentary Group
394 Elizabeth St.
San Francisco, CA 94114