Shirl Mendonca: A walk in the park, with a dog? | TheUnion.com

Shirl Mendonca: A walk in the park, with a dog?

Shirl Mendonca
Columnist

The Union photo/John Hart

The Lake Wildwood Dog Club has requested a special election to allow leashed dogs in Meadow and Vista parks, excluding Sundays and holidays.

Ballots are being mailed on March 23 and will be due back no later than April 27.

Currently, Lake Wildwood CC&Rs say that "Dogs shall not be allowed on the golf course, parks or beaches, but shall be allowed on other Common Areas so long as they are leashed and thus under the supervision and restraint of their Owners." To make a change to the article, allowing dogs in two of the parks, will require that the majority (50 percent, plus 1) of eligible homeowners vote and that at least 50 percent, plus 1 of actual voters vote yes.

There are good arguments on both sides of this debate. According to a dog club representative, the club feels that a change in the current CC&Rs would ensure fair use of Lake Wildwood parks by everyone, including approximately 800 Lake Wildwood households (28 percent) with a dog in the family, and would demonstrate that responsible dog owners are stewards of proper pet care and behavior in the parks including waste pick-up, leash management, keeping pets out of plants, etc. They also believe that this change would enhance a dog-friendly reputation for Lake Wildwood, potentially increasing demand for our real estate. An added benefit of dogs in two of the parks would be to help reduce the current geese population and geese droppings in those areas.

This has been up for a vote at least once before and from informal conversations around the community, opposing views seem unchanged. The most common concern is that there will still be those who choose not to leash their dogs and not to pick up after them and that the current dog waste problem on the roadways and greenbelts will just extend to these two parks. Many people express the need to get the current situation under control first, especially since children in Lake Wildwood have limited spaces to play beyond the parks. The other concern is that pet urine in the sand, on the grass and plants, and on tree trunks and picnic table legs, will make the parks less safe for children, less appealing for picnickers' and family gatherings, and damaging to the landscape.

For a full picture, there are additional rules pertaining to dogs in Lake Wildwood, including a security rule that requires pets be leashed at all time unless confined within a residence or within an outside fenced area on the owner's property. Owners are also required to clean up after their dogs everywhere, even their own lots. Another aspect of that same rule allows leashed dogs on streets and greenbelt areas but prohibits dogs from the golf course, parks or beaches, tennis courts or any association building without general manager approval. Under the Environmental Management Nuisance and Hazard rule, dog and cat owners are subject to a violation/fine for "repeated defecation or urination by dogs and cats on neighboring lots, roadways or Common Areas without prompt cleanup." By comparison, these three rules are very similar to Nevada County rules with the exception of county dogs being able to run free in an owner's fenced yard and dogs are allowed in county parks.

Recommended Stories For You

Curious about enforcement of Articles and Rules, Tobias Brown of Lake Wildwood Security told me that dogs off leash (even with owner nearby) are considered the same as loose dogs and subject to a violation/fine. It is also a violation if dogs are off leash in a park/beach/golf course etc. and/or if an owner is not picking up after their pet. Technically, that could be three separate violations/fines.

Officer Tobias explained that when a resident calls security with a complaint and gives their name and their Lake Wildwood ID # (which is kept confidential), security will either give a warning or write a notice of violation to the pet owner.

If security can't witness the violation, they will make every attempt to talk to the pet owner and, when appropriate, check the security cameras currently located in some of the parks. Repeated complaints for the same issue and/or from multiple neighbors will be dealt with by the head of security.

Think about what you want for you and your family and vote. It is in your court.

Got a tip about someone or something in Lake Wildwood or Penn Valley? Contact Shirl Mendonca at shirlmendonca@gv.net.