New park rules ‘onerous’

By From page A1 | June 17, 2013

Changes and additions to the current city park use regulations, drawn up by city staff and the Recreation and Parks Commission, went back to the Commission for tweaking after the June 11 Placerville City Council meeting. The proposed regulations were made at the direction of the Placerville City Council in order to provide a safer park experience, particularly for young families, but proved to be more onerous than friendly.

One of the new regulations regarding the supervision and care of animals in city parks drew fire from the audience and council alike, in particular a section that does not allow dogs on sports fields and another that does not allow any animal except for dogs to be brought into a park.

Council member Carol Patton questioned the disallowance of dogs on sports fields and the restriction of animals other than dogs in the parks. “Has there been a problem with this?”

“This is a request of the sports leagues. We’ve had problems with off-leash dogs ripping up the field at Rotary Park,” said Steve Youel, director of Community Services. As for allowing only dogs in the parks, Youell said the Commission struggled with where to draw the line.

Several dog owners, including Mathew Applegate, who brought his Great Pyrennes dog to the meeting, spoke of their use of Rotary Park and other parks with sports fields. “Responsible dog owners help protect the public land by using the facilities and being witnesses for the activities there,” said Applegate.

The proposed regulations include rules regarding the supervision and care of animals in the park; use of motor vehicles; damage to park property; treatment of animal life; prohibitions on the use of amplified sound, firearms, camping, bicycle, skateboards, roller skating, scooters and remote-controlled vehicles;  sports and field use and interference with permitted activities in the city parks. Smoking, except in designated areas, is prohibited in city parks. Commercial activities, which include the selling of any goods, requesting monetary donations for charitable, religious, cultural or other causes, and distributing food or clothing is also prohibited in city parks.

The rules will be posted at each park and  can be enforced by the Director of Community Services or a police officer which may result in ejection from the park for specified lengths of time.

Councilwoman Trisha Wilkins asked if the prohibition on firearms included permit-to-carry-concealed weapons.

“Yes,” said City Attorney John Driscoll. “It’s the same restriction as you would find in the courthouse or any federal building.”

Placerville resident Cindy Savage said, “Think about these rules carefully. People with dogs and pets aren’t the problem, but a lot of tiny little rules makes for a fearful community. The rules should be more friendly.”

“The intent of the ordinance is to curtail bad behavior in the parks and restore family use,” said Mayor Wendy Thomas. “I think we should allow any animal in the park with their owner and eliminate the restriction from the sports fields. The leash law is the answer here.”

Vice mayor Carl Hagen said, “There were undesirable activities taking place in the parks. We need to start somewhere. I don’t want to take our freedoms away, but we need to be responsive to the young families who want to use the parks. Our job is to tweak this ordinance and make it concise and friendly.”

“Parents complained about bad language, smoking and drug use near the tot lot at Benham Park,” said Councilwoman Patty Borelli. “I can’t see that a dog on a leash would be tearing up a field, but not everyone is a responsible dog owner. We’re between a rock and a hard spot here.”

“We represent all the community and I don’t feel this onerous litany is the answer,” said Councilwoman Patton. “We should be able to stop drug use in the parks.”

City Council members proposed several changes including wordage that notifies the public that it can apply for special use permits to allow exceptions to some of the rules for specific events.

A 5-0 vote sent the proposed city park ordinance and the council-suggested changes back to the Recreation and Parks Commission for reworking.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.


Wendy Schultz

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