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SANTA MONICA : City Council to Allow Leashed Dogs in Parks

City parks here are going to the dogs. Literally.

For the first time in more than 50 years, Santa Monica will allow leashed dogs in all of its city parks.

Under an ordinance approved by the City Council, dogs will also be able to run free in designated areas of two city parks--Josyln and Marine--during specified morning hours. The law was approved after a six-week trial and a heated debated last month.

“Since I’ve been able to walk my dog, it’s become a place where people talk to each other,” said Robert Malkin, a dog owner who walks his dog in Palisades Park.

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Many credited their dogs with creating a sense of community and reviving legal activities in parks overrun by prostitutes, drug dealers and the homeless. Others claimed their dogs initiated networking sessions that led to business deals, and that they encouraged small talk with fellow dog owners.

But angry residents would hear none of that.

They complained about the intrusion of dirty, noisy dogs who litter their lawns with feces and spray their grass with urine.

“I worked hard and saved my pennies so that I could live a life of serenity and tranquillity, and then the dogs came. Dozens of them, barking and urinating,” said Linda Watson, who lives near one of the parks.

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Under the new law, dog owners will be fined $100 if they fail to clean up after their pets. All dogs using the park must be licensed and tagged. The designated areas where unleashed dogs can run free will be open every day from 5 to 8:30 a.m. The “off-leash” program may be extended to two additional sites.


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