Improvements Eyed for Beverly Hills Community Dog Park

A survey taken during February and March indicated that only 18% of respondents were frequent visitors to the Beverly Hills Community Dog Park. Issues such as cleanliness and ground covering were cited as the reasons for the infrequent visits. Now, City Council and staff are hoping to attract more pups and their people to the Foothill Road park by increasing shade coverage and replacing the current ground cover with artificial turf.

Following a discussion at the June 3 City Council Liaison/Recreation and Parks Commission Liaison meeting, Councilmembers Mary Wells and John Mirisch instructed Community Services Director Stephanie Harris to finalize the costs of implementing the new shade structure and researching a “test site” that would cover a section of the park with a mix of new materials.  

Renderings of the proposed shade structure, which is being donated by resident Tina Sinatra in commemoration of her parents and her late dog Rosie, features sail-shaped canopies extending over both ends of the park, with space for existing trees between canopies. City Architect Mandana Motahari estimated the cost at $400,000 but said a more precise figure will be provided after design development documents are completed.

Wells asked if the tree limbs could be adjusted to provide more shade, and Community Services Manager Joana Torres said it could be at least five years before the trees have grown enough to provide adequate shade.

But for the commission, improving ground cover is the bigger priority. The park is currently covered in decomposed granite, and the day before the commission meeting, Wells watched as dogs running around the park kicked up plumes of dust that could make it irritating for people to breathe.   

The recent survey, which polled 137 people, found that Wells is not alone in her concerns. According to the survey, 35% of respondents thought the ground covering was an issue, and 14% thought it was the most important factor in a successful dog park, though 45% thought cleanliness was the most important factor. 

“It’s a great location, the parking is very easy, [so] why aren’t people attending?” Wells said. “It seems that the clearest factor to me is the ground covering.” 

After studying four other dog parks from Long Beach to Santa Monica, staff presented two options for new ground cover: Woof Fiber, a kind of wood fiber engineered to withstand extreme temperatures and withstand mud puddles, craters, dust and dirt; and K9Grass, an artificial turf currently used at dog parks in West Hollywood and Signal Hill. 

Replacing the current covering with Woof Fiber would cost at least roughly $26,700, and K9Grass would cost between $288,000 and $432,000 based on the color and density of the artificial blades, Torres said.   

Given that membership to the dog park has declined since it opened, despite the city investing close to $1 million in maintenance and upgrades, Wells wanted to see whether a pilot program would show that new ground covering prompted more visitors. 

Even if the pilot proved successful, there were other factors to consider, staff said. 

Torres said that she receives a lot of feedback about the requirement for park users to register and obtain a key fob, and Teri Austin, president of the dog rescue organization Amanda Foundation, which is located opposite the dog park, said the low number of visitors could simply be due from a lack of awareness in the community. 

“I think that that a lot of people don’t know about the park,” Austin said. “I think if there was some PR done about the park’s existence and that it is for the people of Beverly Hills … I think that the usage of the park would skyrocket.” 

Austin said her foundation has had an artificial turf lawn in front of the building for the last 15 years, and while there are some bonuses, including that it looks nice, there are also some drawbacks. The material can get hot in the summer, and cleaning it can be difficult, putting dogs at risk of contracting pests and parasites, she said. 

No matter what route the city pursues, some people are likely to disagree, and Austin urged the commission not to be stymied but a desire to please everyone. 

“Being right across the road from it, I’ll tell you, people come every day who don’t have a fob, and they do come from other places,” Austin said. “So, if you wanted to get more people using it, you definitely could.” 

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