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    City looks at dog issues at Albany Waterfront

    By Caryl O’Keefe

    Albany waterfront visitors, and those who might be visitors if conditions were different, will have a chance soon to offer suggestions concerning dogs on the publicly-owned 88 acres at the waterfront.

    The City of Albany’s Waterfront Committee (WC) on July 27 voted to ask City staff to provide a report of conditions and issues related to dogs at the waterfront. This vote followed extensive discussion of a report prepared by committee member Francesco Papalia. Papalia researched waterfront conditions by interviewing park visitors onsite this spring. He concluded that Albany’s waterfront is “a de facto off-leash dog park without any enforcement of any rules.” (read Papalia’s report at These public parklands are contiguous, with few boundary markers, so Papalia’s report encouraged coordinated rules for an ordinance.

    Papalia noted that many human visitors are professional dog-walkers who don’t live in Albany but find Albany’s waterfront good for their business: no rule enforcement, no business license needed, no limit on the number of dogs walked at one time, no penalty for failure to clean up after the dogs. His report listed twelve issues about dogs at the waterfront, and several possible solutions. Most solutions would require a City of Albany ordinance.

    Most solutions also would require coordination with the East Bay Regional Park District, which operates about 55 acres of East Shore State Park on Albany’s waterfront, at the beach, neck, and plateau. The City owns another 33 acres at the bulb plus a right-of-way on the Neck. Map:

    Albany’s City Council adopted in June an ordinance concerning dogs in other Albany parks. The ordinance was proposed by Albany’s Parks and Recreation Commission, after it held public meetings at all other Albany parks. This new ordinance can be expanded to include rules for dogs at the waterfront, according to Albany Recreation Director Penelope Leach. (A staff report for the July 27 Waterfront Committee meeting said WC had declined an offer from the Parks and Recreation Commission to include the waterfront in the ordinance earlier this year, because the committee wanted more time to get public input about “more complicated” issues.)

    During the discussion July 27, several WC members supported the suggestion that Albany consider adopting East Bay Regional Park District rules, which in general require dogs to be on leashes, limit the number of dogs a visitor may bring at any one time, and prohibit dogs on swimming beaches. Nearby public dog parks including Point Isabel, and Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, have similar rules.

    Issues relating to dogs at Albany’s waterfront are likely to be on the next Waterfront Committee meeting agenda, September 14 at 7:30, at Albany Community Center ) The public is invited to the meetings, which usually are held second and sometimes fourth Mondays. Waterfront Committee meetings are broadcast live on KALB 33 in Albany, and are webstreamed on the City’s site. Videos of prior WC meetings are available online (scroll under “Community Videos”) at this link.

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