More Seattle dog parks? See the city’s new draft Off-Leash Areas plan – ‘People, Dogs, and Parks’

(WSB file photo, Westcrest Off-Leash Area)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Months later than first promised, the draft plan for Seattle Parks‘ off-leash areas is finally out today. See it here.

The process leading to this has been under way for almost a year – we mentioned a survey last July, and several local community councils included discussions at their meetings earlier this year.

We’ve just taken a quick read through the draft plan, and here are some of the points:

*No specific new off-leash areas are proposed

*A process for adding new OLAs “gradually” is outlined

*In the meantime, the city proposes spending up to $1.3 million to improve the 14 existing OLAs, through funding from the voter-approved Park District

Here’s the outline of the process suggested for adding new OLAs:

For each proposed OLA, except those involving private developers, SPR will convene a committee including dog advocates, environmental advocates, a veterinarian or animal behaviorist, community members, and SPR staff to recommend to the Superintendent whether the proposed OLA should move forward.

1 Adding OLAs through new park/redevelopment processes. SPR will specifically include OLAs as an element
for consideration in the planning process when SPR embarks on the development or redevelopment process
for new and existing parks, along with any other suggested use that arises during the process.

2 As SPR develops land-banked park sites, SPR will examine their use for new OLAs as part of the park
development process.

3 SPR will continue to consider adding new OLAs by request of the community, whether through
Neighborhood Matching Fund processes or other community processes.

4 Support groups such as COLA in developing OLAs on non-park public land suitable for OLAs, by convening
the committee described above and assisting with design.

5 Encourage groups like COLA to work with private property owners to provide OLAs on unused property.

6 Encourage private developers, through the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection, to include
OLAs as part of prospective developments.

There will still remain the issue of development costs for any of these alternatives, but those can be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

The document says adding a one-acre off-leash area is estimated to cost just under $1 million.

As for the nature of improvements/additions, the draft plan includes these recommendations:

Based on the potential for conflict between leashed and unleashed dogs and between dogs and other park activities, limited enforcement resources, and feedback from other jurisdictions, SPR recommends continuing to offer fenced OLAs only.

*Based on the potential for conflict between leashed and unleashed dogs and between dogs and other trail users, the associated need for more maintenance and enforcement and the potential for disturbing animal and bird habitat, SPR does not recommend designated leash-optional trails.

*Based on the protection of many of Seattle’s beaches by the Marine Reserves Rule and the potential for disturbing animal, marine and bird habitat, SPR recommends against establishing any more OLAs with beach access.

We’re still reading through the rest of the plan and will add anything else of note in the next hour or so (again, see the full draft plan here). Geographically, it notes that a “small area of (north West Seattle)” is one of the parts of the city that does NOT have an off-leash area within 2.5 miles; West Seattle’s one and only OLA is at Westcrest Park in Highland Park, opened in 1997 and described in the draft plan as the second-busiest off-leash area in the city.

The Westcrest analysis starts on page 145 of the report and recommends these improvements:

1. Reinstall ADA parking sign and ADA path in small and shy dog area.
2. Upgrade fencing to protect natural areas.
3. Replace woodchips with other surfacing and fill in ruts.
4. Restore eroded slope.
5. Pave service road from the north lot entrance to the inside dumpster.

WHAT’S NEXT: The process for commenting on the draft plan is outlined here. A public hearing is set for July 28th in Northgate (that same link has full details), and the Seattle Parks Board is scheduled to vote at its September 8th meeting. Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre has the final say on the plan.

31 Replies to "More Seattle dog parks? See the city's new draft Off-Leash Areas plan - 'People, Dogs, and Parks'"

  • DogmanJorge June 22, 2016 (11:12 am)

    Million dollars to put in a dog park – Your kidding right! 

    Just put in a stupid fence in Lincoln park in the unofficial dog park and add some water access.  Even a rain barrel or 2.     A Chainlink Fence would cost about $10,000….  CLEARLY we need one there.

      This is the reason Seattle Government is so #$##e.

    • Sevenless June 22, 2016 (11:21 am)

      That’s essentially what Parks did in Volunteer Park 15 years ago, only to have neighbors complain about noise, people not picking up waste in the park, and others leaving waste in neighboring yards. Ultimately it was closed by court order because Parks didn’t conduct a proper SEPA review.

  • AceMotel June 22, 2016 (12:31 pm)

    Another dog park (or two) is needed in West Seattle, ASAP.  

  • PG June 22, 2016 (1:20 pm)

    I really wish there would be more enforcement of existing leash laws (particularly at Lincoln Park).  I get tired of dodging unleashed dogs whose owners are often many yards away, paying no attention to their dogs at all.  I’ve tried (gently) talking to some dog owners about reasons for keeping their dogs on leash, such as the excellent article here at the blog about dogs ripping up the plants volunteers work so hard to keep going, but have been met with a combination of hostility and scorn.  It’s discouraging.

  • Rule follower June 22, 2016 (1:26 pm)

     Here is a free option: Go to Madison Middle School it seems there are quite a few that think this is an off leash park. They drive and park on the neighborhood streets (why they can’t walk their dog there I will never understand, oh yah they don’t own a leash this is why) You can’t even walk on Hinds without a dog running up to you.  I can’t believe how many parents are showing their kids that it is okay to bypass the rules/laws and go play with your unleashed dog on school grounds. I guess these are the same parents that text and drive while their kids are in the car showing them it can be done when they drive.



    • candrewb June 22, 2016 (3:07 pm)

      I can’t believe how many city councilmembers think it is okay to bypass the rules/laws and allow drug addicts to camp on the streets and in our green spaces.

  • Overthere June 22, 2016 (1:39 pm)

    The decision regarding no more dog parks on the water is very unfortunate, I guess we will keep driving to Mercer Island to throw the ball.

  • more olas now! June 22, 2016 (1:55 pm)

    I have a greyhound, a type of dog that cannot be let off leash unless in a securely-fenced area (not that I would do that anyway). The nearest off-leash area is a 15-20 minute drive away.

    Portland has 33 dog areas. Vancouver BC has 36. Seattle has only 14! Pretty sad for a city with more dogs than children. I can’t believe Parks isn’t being more proactive about this needed resource. 

    Neighbors: please don’t paint all dog owners with the same brush. Most of us are conscientious of waste and obey the law. 

    • sam-c June 22, 2016 (3:22 pm)

      You could almost even say that the nearest OLA is MUCH FARTHER away.  I pretty much refuse to park in the parking lot near the small (older playground).  Every time you turn around, someone is getting their car window smashed.  We’ve also seen some suspicious happenings of various kinds in that specific parking lot.   Don’t hear much about that other parking lot, but that lot is on the opposite end of the OLA ( for the area designated for small dogs)

  • quiz June 22, 2016 (2:34 pm)

    We have plenty of dog parks. How about we enforce leash laws and spend money taking care of the people parks we already have?

    • Jake from State Farm June 23, 2016 (11:30 pm)

      Quiz, I did not know that one dog park in a 25 mile radius of West Seattle is considered to be plenty. Thank you for teaching me otherwise.  :-)

  • BarGreMagGun June 22, 2016 (7:43 pm)

    Would love to see an off leash area at Lincoln Park where dogs are allowed in the water.  How about at the north end of the park where all of the construction is once it is completed.  I would be happy to pay a small fee to support the upkeep!  Why do we have to drive to Mercer Island or Magnuson Park to let our dogs swim?

    • sam-c June 23, 2016 (9:22 am)


      Yes, really. With all the miles and miles of water access here in West Seattle, it’s surprising that there’s no where for dogs to access the waterfront/ fetch balls in the water.  It doesn’t have to be huge or take over an entire stretch of beach. The one at Magnuson is what, 30′-40′ long?

  • Gatewood Rob June 22, 2016 (8:02 pm)

    So, less than 100k per OLA.  That’s not even putting lipstick on the pig that Westcrest is.  Way to not listen to your constituents.   Not shocked though.

  • Jeanie June 23, 2016 (12:37 am)

    Just submitted my comments. I love dogs, but I am more concerned about preserving our parks and wildlife habitat. I am fine with more off-leash areas, but not in our parks and woodlands. In my comments, I also mentioned the clueless and/or entitled people who flout the rules. Tighter enforcement is needed, as is more prominent signage than the wimpy ones we currently have in Lincoln Park.

    By the way, I would HATE to see an off-leash area at Lincoln Park. Fortunately, that is not under consideration.  

  • G Man June 23, 2016 (6:59 am)

    Dogs need to run period, walking on leash is not enough for most dogs, having one dog park 20 mins away for everyone in west seattle is the dumbest idea ever, have you seen all the new construction? Many of these people in the new buildings will also have dogs and the problem goes on and on, city employees are so dumb, really one million to put up a fence around an acre of land? Jesus

    • Gorillita June 23, 2016 (8:23 am)

      I am a low income, disabled senior with a service dog.  I want to take him to an OLA, but it is very difficult to get to the one nearest my residence (Junction) by bus.  Perhaps that could b e taken into consideration when planning is done.  We don’t all drive . . .

  • DogmanJorge June 23, 2016 (8:36 am)

    Jeanie you would prefer the wild west dog park that is there now.   You know there is one allready right? But it’s not fenced in and there is no water/trash nearby.   All they have to do is fence the area and people will be more likely to walk through the park with leashes on!  The area people use is away from the trails and perfect. 

  • DogmanJorge June 23, 2016 (8:39 am)

    And West Seattle has only one crime ridden dog park (parking lots)  with way too many dogs!  The park gets too much use and is not as safe for the doggies….  It’s not even close most of West Seattle…..

  • Superoptimistic June 23, 2016 (10:11 am)

    How about if you want to have animals, go live in the countryside- you are free and welcome to do so- and if you want to live in a dense, urban environment, quit foisting your dogs and their crap and collateral damage on your more curteous environment-appropriate neighbors?  

    Why must you make your problem, everyone’s problem?!

    Please know that we all smile, because we don’t want conflict- but many of us- hate your dog!

    • jason June 23, 2016 (1:34 pm)

      “Please know that we all smile, because we don’t want conflict- but many of us- hate your dog!”


    • Jake from State Farm June 23, 2016 (11:41 pm)

      Superoptimistic, if you want everyone who owns a dog to move to the countryside, feel free to pay for our moving expenses to leave your  West Seattle.

      Thank you for making gross generalizations about dog owners and non dog owners, as not all non owners can be considered “appropriate neighbors” like yourself.

      As far as making our issues “everyone’s” issue, it’s called being part of a community. See, most other dog owners grin and bear you obnoxious behavior.

      And by the way, you and Jason should live together, you think the same!

  • Greystreet June 23, 2016 (10:20 am)

    Not surprised at all, I agree, as having two dogs of our own, that they need to run and have access to water, it’s pathetic in a city as liquid-accessible as Seattle is, that you can only legally take them in the water in two places…I’m more concerned about the human waste being dumped into the waterways more so than animal waste…it’s sad that in a place where dogs out number children there are so many restrictions and conservative minds driving the off-leash trucks–maybe we should take down some playgrounds and make room for dog parks since children are in the minority?

  • pagefive June 23, 2016 (11:42 am)

    You really need to stop equating dogs with HUMAN BEINGS. It is absurd and insulting! Dogs are PETS. They are not biologically related to you. They are not family members. While they require physical activity, they do not require creative play that fosters intellect and curiosity for the physical environment. Jeez. Get real, people. Replacing playgrounds with dog parks because there are more dogs than children is a ridiculous suggestion. Talk about first world problems.

  • Superoptimistic June 23, 2016 (11:47 am)

    Yes- this is the mindset of dog owners- displace children for dogs. 

    Newsflash Greystreet-

    dogs and people are not the same thing. All humans past present and future are children at one time, even you..

  • j June 23, 2016 (12:43 pm)

    I just wish there was something to be done about the dog walkers.

    1 person with 9 dogs is not ok.

    Everyday occurrence at Westcrest.

    • WSB June 23, 2016 (1:06 pm)

      The draft plan does address dog walkers – page 8:

      SPR recommends dog walkers be required to obtain a business license from the City of Seattle and a $100 dog walker license from FAS. From the time of enactment of this requirement, for a duration of two years, dog walkers will be allowed to bring up to 10 licensed dogs (unlicensed dogs are NOT allowed in off-leash areas) and to walk 10 licensed dogs on leash in Seattle’s parks, except for those areas designated as non-dog areas. At the conclusion of the two-year period, dog walkers who have obtained the three-course certification in animal behavior from the University of Washington, or another equivalent program as authorized by the Superintendent, will be allowed to continue to walk up to 10 licensed dogs. Dog walkers who have not obtained the certificate will be limited to three licensed dogs, although animal behaviorists recommended limiting uncertified dog walkers to three dogs.

      Once they have received certification, they can increase the number of licensed dogs they walk to 10.

      Again, these are *draft* recommendations, and an official comment period is now open, as mentioned above, with a public hearing in July as well as other opportunities likely before the City Council.

  • thinkaboutit June 23, 2016 (1:53 pm)

    Interesting how those complaining about off-leash dogs in parks are against or just not approving this draft for more off-leash, fenced, dog parks… Wouldn’t more of these proposed parks be beneficial to you too?? 

  • Greystreet June 23, 2016 (8:56 pm)

    Pagefive, I’m sorry you feel that way, but my dogs are my family members, and I don’t need to explain myself anymore about it–frankly I’m offended because it’s like you just insulted my child that I’ve paid to have vaccinated, I pay to feed them and keep them clean and teach them how to behave…hmm sounds eerily similar to how people raise children…you can call them PETS but I call them family *mwah*

  • John Q Public June 23, 2016 (9:30 pm)


    Lincoln Park is already an off leash park. ;)

  • Mickymse June 24, 2016 (10:47 am)

    I’ll happily break the debate here… I would prefer not to have your dogs OR your children running around off-leash. I don’t need EITHER the two-footed or four-pawed creatures running into me, barking/screaming in my direction, romping through carefully tended plants or gardens, or “freely expressing themselves” in the restaurants or bars that I want to frequent. If you are unable to properly parent, then leave them at home — OR DON’T GO OUT. No one forced you to adopt or procreate. (Yes, I know I’m being a little over the top :-)  but my point is that the problem isn’t dogs vs. children, but the small minority of folks who can’t seem to handle either appropriately in public. We get that YOU think they’re cute. Some times they are. But some of us would prefer not to have them in our way and up on our things.

Sorry, comment time is over.