I attended a meeting of the Dog Advisory Committee last night for an article I’m writing. They were meeting to discuss the possibility of starting a timed use program in some of SF’s city parks. Timed use means that during some hours of the day (usually very early morning and late evening), owners can let their dogs play off-leash in the park.
It’s controversial — the question of dog shit alone took up a good part of the meeting, and how many meetings can you say that about? — and I’m not sure what I think about it. What I did love was seeing how many members of the public showed up to speak at the meeting.
I grew up in the suburbs with a huge backyard and swimming pool, and my parents still live in that house, so for my whole life I’ve used that yard as my primary means of outdoor recreation. Even now, when I want to spend the day outside, I BART to the east and hang out by the pool. So it’s a perspective shift for me to think of city parks as being a vital thing for people.
Last night I was surrounded by parents, dog owners, old ladies who walk for their health, a guidedog trainer and professional dog walkers, all of whom had turned out to fight for what is essentially their yard. And call me a sap, but it was kind of heartwarming to see proof that SF does have actual communities of people who recreate together and gather in big chilly auditoriums to argue with each other and make each other laugh with snarky comments and get mad at each other for just not seeing my point at all, darn it. It made me want to go out and use the parks regularly so I, too, can be indignant and vociferous and just present in this city.
I don’t really have a point here; any points I have are being saved for the article. But it was a neat experience.