Fauntleroy Community Association: Animal-control briefing; more

January 10, 2013 at 1:26 am | In Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

The Fauntleroy Community Association has set the date for inviting the community to come “Celebrate Lincoln Park” – April 23rd. That was announced at Tuesday night’s FCA business meeting at the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse. The plan is now to have a big community meeting with lots of information about Fauntleroy’s gem of a park – and follow it up a week or so later with an event at the park itself. FCA president Bruce Butterfield says they would welcome help planning Celebrate Lincoln Park; you can reach FCA through its website and Facebook page.

One ongoing issue at the park – off-leash dogs – was also on the Tuesday night agenda, with a guest appearance by a Seattle Animal Shelter enforcement officer. Read on for toplines from what he told the board:

(Officer Raphael Rivera speaking; FCA’s Vicki Schmitz Block at lower left)
Clashes between dogs and wildlife have drawn concern in recent months – such as the case of the area’s resident white geese three months ago (WSB coverage here) and incidents involving visiting seals/seal pups (like the saga of Casey in August).

But rather than address specific incidents, concerns, or cases, Officer Raphael Rivera focused on the basics of how he and his department work.

SAS enforces a variety of animal issues, he said; they primarily only enforce the off-leash law on public property, such as Parks beaches, for which he said SAS has “a zero-tolerance policy.”

Offleash dog fines start at $54 and go to $168 at the fourth violation, according to Officer Rivera. “We’ve caught people who have been cited multiple times .. and when we catch them, we trespass them from …a 10-park grid.” That means even if they are caught and banned from Lincoln Park, there are nine others – which nine, he didn’t specify – from which they will be banned (“trespassed”) as well. Police would be called in if someone who has been “trespassed” is caught.

There are 425 parks in the city, he pointed out, “and (enforcing the animal-related laws in them) falls on us .. on top of everything else we have to deal with. Realistically, we are backlogged in responding to these complaints.” They do proactively patrol, he said, and when they catch someone violating, there are no warnings – “we cite them,” he said.

By law, they cannot issue a citation for something they did not witness – they have to have a witness who would testify in court.

Larry Carpenter from Seal Sitters was on hand and talked about the problems they’ve encountered regarding seals on the beach harassed by off-leash dogs, particularly at Lincoln Park, with owners who refuse to comply with requests to keep their dogs away.

“Seal pups are kind of a seasonal thing,” the officer began to reply – and Carpenter interjected, “no, it’s year-round, we’re out there right now.” Officer Rivera said they would be “more than happy to respond” but they only have one officer in West Seattle most of the time, and a call, for example, of an aggressive dog chasing a person, would be a higher priority than a dog getting too close to a seal. “If you are committed to have a citation issued, we could follow up on that,” he said – while acknowledging that would require having identifying information about the offender, and saying he does not recommend having a confrontation.

Rivera said their staffing is usually 9 am-7 pm, though it used to be earlier and later. 206-386-PETS is the number to call. He says a typical day involves them trying to “sneak up” on folks. “Just keep calling in complaints in,” he advised, because “every call gets a complaint number.” The more calls they get, the more frequently they will come to a particular park.

Should you take a photo of a violator? One attendee asked. Not a bad idea, said Officer Rivera, while advising it might not be safe to get into someone’s face; they get those “quite frequently” and attach them to the witness’s “declaration.”

Multiple complaints about someone who was not caught directly by the agent said that a second complaint would generate a visit by an animal-control officer.

Seattle Animal Shelter will be contacted about the upcoming Lincoln Park meeting, FCA told Officer Rivera as he left – though the meeting will not be focused on that issue, board members reiterated. FCA hopes to have information tables at the meeting to educate people about the rules. Carpenter, who is also associated with the Alki Community Council, suggested that local councils might want to team up for a bigger West Seattle-wide meeting about the dog issue.

SPEAKING OF ALKI … FCA was briefed by reps from the Alki Art Fair, coming up July 20-21, “just trying to hit all the community council,area meetings with a brief update on where we are at and where we are going.” AAF is close to submitting its application to become a nonprofit. The first planning meeting of the year is coming up January 17th. Festival organizers are planning outreach at a variety of events this year. Last year’s AAF featured more than 70 vendors, and this year they are hoping for more than 80; they are looking for more vendors, more volunteers, more sponsors, more money/silent-auction-item donors, new board members, more community support. Frances Gifford said she will be serving in a paid position as event director this year, after lots of volunteer work, and so her spot on the board will be vacant too.

There were updates on other Fauntleroy events, too:

FAUNTLEROY FOOD FEST: The date is set for that too – March 20th. Nominations will be accepted before then for board members, if anyone is interested in applying. FCA members will get a letter and annual report before then; the main purpose of the meeting is to have memberships renewed as well as to celebrate community.

FCA SURVEY: The organization will soon be launching a community survey, which will be linked from its website. They are hoping to send it out as soon as possible so they will have the results back in time for the March Food Fest membership meeting.

FAUNTLEROY FALL FESTIVAL: Organizers have received word they’re eligible for a $2500 grant they have sought from the city. The specific purpose is to capture the teen/young adult population with new activities at the festival.

CONSTRUCTION ZONE: The ongoing work at Cove Park, expanding and upgrading the Barton Pump Station, came up. Board members said no problems have come up so far. President Butterfield said the King County Wastewater Treatment Division “has been wonderful to work with.”

FCA business meetings are usually 2nd Tuesdays, 7 pm, in the board room at the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse (9131 California SW). Between meetings, stay informed via fauntleroy.net.

10 Comments

  1. Lincoln Park was one of my first and greatest loves in Seattle. In the 11 years Ive been here its gone down hill, it looks more ratty, trees are thinned out, sometimes way too much camping smoke and healthy trees seem to disappear at times. The western upper path is continuously loosing ground to slides and I think a weakened root system is part of that problem. There are homeless that spend nights there and I have seen hidden refuse spots with signs of small fires and animal remains scattered about. The place deserves more than a casual occasional look over. It seems like most of the people who visit in one way or another don’t care what they are doing to the park. The off leash dog problem is way, way out of control. Maybe some more aggressive warning signs inside the park rather than just the vague ones at several entrances would help.

    Comment by cj — 1:47 am January 10, 2013 #

  2. I say let them run!!!

    Comment by DBM — 6:46 am January 10, 2013 #

  3. “Offleash dog fines start at $54 and go to $168 at the fourth violation, according to Officer Rivera”

    I thought the fine was $500.00 at our area beaches?

    Comment by they — 8:50 am January 10, 2013 #

  4. I have tried to walk my dog on a 6ft non-retractable leash at Lincoln Park. He is a young dog that looks full grown. I am to training him but find it very frustrating that he is one of a minority of dogs on any type of leash. I love dogs. I love well mannered dogs. I do not like your out of control dog nor do I like your attitude when I ask you to please control your dog. A 20ft retractable leash is not the same thing as having your dog under your control. There is an off leash park in the area. Please use it but only after you have voice control over your pet. There are many obedience trainers in the area. I suggest you use one.

    Comment by ra — 9:14 am January 10, 2013 #

  5. Glad this area is getting visibility for the off leash issue.

    Comment by WSratsinacage — 9:18 am January 10, 2013 #

  6. Thanks to CJ, your comments are spot-on. We need more access to how decisions are being made and a better hold on how the park is maintained, preserved, and improved, much like Seward Park has. Half the people making decisions about the park have rarely if ever even been there.
    As for dogs, I’ve been chased by “friendly” dogs during my walks and runs more than I can count. Love ‘em, I really do, but dogs belong on leashes in a shared park environment.

    Comment by Cass Nevada — 9:30 am January 10, 2013 #

  7. I know cost-wise SAS has a tight budget, but if they put an officer in Lincoln Park full time, they would easily write enough tickets per day to pay for that officer’s salary- and then some.

    Comment by Nitro — 9:48 am January 10, 2013 #

  8. I have noticed an increase in off- leash dogs at Schmitz Park, too. It is supposed to be a park preserve for forest species, not an off-leash area. Many dogs tear around off-trail and can really harm wildlife and habitat. Please do not let this forest gem become the de-facto dog run of WestSeattle!

    Comment by Denise — 12:41 pm January 10, 2013 #

  9. I’m not satisfied with Officer Rivera’s response. He doesn’t seem to understand how serious the issue is at Lincoln Park, and he didn’t offer any ideas on solutions. Just the same old, same old.
    .
    I was hoping we could get Animal Control to do some spot patrolling in Lincoln Park. That was the most important issue to come out of the previous FCA business meeting, so I’m sorry that didn’t get addressed here. I will be contacting SAS or maybe the Mayor’s Office and asking them to document their record with regard to patrolling in LP. If they can’t demonstrate that they’ve been out there ticketing, then I’ll ask them to start doing that.
    .
    Squeaky wheels get the grease.

    Comment by DBP — 9:41 am January 11, 2013 #

  10. Hello, this is Don Jordan, Director of the Seattle Animal Shelter.

    I am pleased Officer Raphael Rivera was able to attend the Fauntleroy Community Association’s meeting to talk about enforcement of off-leash dogs in Lincoln Park. This type of community interaction is essential to the Shelter being able to fulfill its duties.

    I would like to offer some additional information about our recent enforcement activities at Lincoln Park that Officer Rivera did not have at his fingertips during that meeting. During the last three months of 2012, the Shelter completed 25 enforcement activities in Lincoln Park, which included issuing off-leash citations and warnings, and picking up an injured dog.

    We share residents’ concerns when it comes to off-leash dogs in our parks. With more than 400 parks in Seattle, managing animal control enforcement expectations can be a challenge. Nonetheless, in response to community concerns I have directed our enforcement unit to conduct additional emphasis patrols in Lincoln Park over the next several months to help curtail off-leash dog activities.

    As a resident, you can also help us out by calling 206-386-PETS and reporting the license plate number of anyone violating the leash law in this park. Once we receive that information, our enforcement staff will follow-up accordingly.

    If anyone has other questions or concerns, please feel free to call me directly at 206-386-4286 at any time.

    Don Jordan, Director
    Seattle Animal Shelter

    Comment by Don Jordan — 11:05 pm January 15, 2013 #

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