St. Andrews Square resident Grace Kallis and her husband rescued a dog back in March, and quickly learned that places for off-leash canine exercise and socialization are few and far between – in fact, all but non-existent – in the general Larchmont, Hancock Park and surrounding areas…especially for apartment-dwellers who may not have yards or other private outdoor spaces.
Kallis works in Beverly Hills, so she began taking her dog to the municipal dog park there, which she says is quite lovely – it has benches, trees, fountains, and decomposed granite surfaces that don’t get dusty or easily dug up by the dogs. It also requires dog owners to register their dogs (making sure their vaccinations are current, etc.), before they’re allowed in.
Kallis told the Buzz that after using the Beverly Hills park for a while she started to think it’s “crazy” that our area does not have a similar amenity…both for dogs and people. The Beverly Hills dog park, she said, fosters valuable communication and connection among its human users, as well as its canine patrons – “like NextDoor.com, but in person!” So Kallis began to wonder how she could bring something similarly well built and managed to our mid-town area.
To see if anyone else was interested, Kallis posted her thoughts on NextDoor last week, and got some favorable responses. So she scheduled a meeting yesterday, and was thrilled when 10 people showed up to share their thoughts. Most, Kallis told the Buzz this morning, were extremely enthusiastic and definitely agreed on the need for such a space – one man even said he’d once rented someone’s back yard on AirBnB, so his dog could have a place to play. But other attendees shared concerns, too, such as wanting to make sure that existing park space, which is well used by children and families, wouldn’t be diminished in the effort.
Kallis said she understands this concern, and definitely does not want to take away existing park space. Instead, she said, she would like to see the city purchase additional land in the area for a dog park. Doing some preliminary research, Kallis has learned that the Beverly Hills dog park was created when the city purchased a 19,000 square foot vacant lot for that specific purpose. Then she called Los Angeles City Council Member David Ryu’s office, and learned from Ryu’s field deputy, Catherine Landers, that L.A. also has some funds available to purchase property for public green space, including dog parks. The biggest challenge in our area, however, is finding the space. Vacant land near Larchmont is both scarce and highly valued for development, so finding a location that’s both available and affordable is a huge challenge. Size is also an issue, Kallis said, though she noted that the location wouldn’t have to be very wide, as long as there is some length to it for dogs to run and chase balls. (She pointed to the new-ish dog park near L.A. Live as a good example of a long, narrow dog park, which is heavily used by downtown residents.)
So Kallis says her next step will be soliciting community input and location suggestions. She has also asked that the discussion be agendized at the next meeting of her local St. Andrews Square Neighborhood Association, and she plans to attend the next meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee to continue the discussion and seek wider support.
Kallis said the ideal location for a local dog park would probably be between Beverly and Melrose, and either on N. Larchmont Blvd. or a block or two west or east. That way, she said, it would also bring more foot traffic to Larchmont Blvd. businesses, as dog park users could also patronize the Farmers’ Market on Sundays and/or stop in for their morning coffee or afternoon snacks on week days. She said residents know their own areas best, however, so if anyone has a location within a block or two of their homes that they think might make a good dog park, she would love to hear from them at [email protected]. “We need to keep this momentum going,” she said, and asked that anyone interested contact her and/or “raise your hand and tell us about the empty lot next to you.”