Sunday, January 27, 2013

LA River: Proposed Recreation Zone Will Ban Even On-Leash Dogs From River "Channel"

Photo: D. Hibbs..  Walking in the riverbed near Sunnynook Bridge.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)
All dogs will be banned from the LA River channel as a part of the LA River Recreational Zone Pilot Program set for a public hearing Monday.  The LA City Council Ad Hoc River Committee is looking to open the Glendale Narrows to recreational, non-motorized boating this summer. 
Buried deep in the rules that will be posted in the river channel (year round) is the ban on dogs, even on-leash dogs.  People will be allowed in the channel (no swimming, skateboarding or biking in the channel), but not dogs or other pets.  The LA River channel is defined as the slopes below the bike path, going down to the river, the flat part in the riverbed and the river itself. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson. Near Atwater Creek aka North Atwater Park.
North of Fletcher, there is ample room to walk down in the riverbed.  It's quieter to walk in the riverbed because you're below the freeway noise.  It's also a lot more interesting.  It offers a view on wildlife that most people never realized is in their backyard
Photo: Diane Edwardson.  Near Newell Street, Elysian Valley, don't try this in the rain.
While the flat parts of the channel in Elysian Valley are not as wide, there are places to explore too. Require a maximum 6' leash (no expandable 20' leashes - to protect wildlife) and require picking up after your dogs.  (I've encountered more human feces piles in the river than dog feces piles.  The homeless still use the river storm drain outlets as a bathrooms.) 
Photo: Diane Edwardson. The bike path in Elysian Valley is very narrow and soon will be your only option when you take your dog to the river.
Under the proposed soon-to-be-posted rules, on-leash dogs will only be allowed on the bike path between North Atwater Park and The Confluence. The bike path is not easy to walk with a dog.  You're constantly looking over your shoulder because you can't hear bikes coming up from behind due to the noise of the 2 & 5 Freeways and the idling trains at the Metrolink Maintenance Yard.  (If you think it's loud, imagine how loud it is for dogs - their hearing is way more sensitive than ours.)  It's stressful for all parties involved. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson.  North of the Hyperion Bridge.
Walking the slopes in the river channel on a dry day provides a good core workout and a bike-free place to walk with a dog.  You don't have to worry about getting tangled up with a passing bicyclist. 
I've often seen women walking the river alone with their dogs. Dogs give them a sense of safety they would not have if they left their dogs at home.
With two pedestrian/bike bridges planned (North Atwater & Taylor Yard) pedestrians with on-leash dogs won't even be able to escape the bikes on the east side of the river.  Our only choice is walking in the river channel if we want to enjoy the LA River with our dogs.  Yet the City is failing to consider this option in their rush to make the summer boating program happen by this summer.
Photo: Diane Edwardson.  Hyperion Bridge. 
We support the Recreational Boating Program in the Glendale Narrows portion of the LA River between North Atwater Park and The Confluence.  However we urge the City to reconsider the rule to ban dogs in the LA River channel in the policies & regulations set forth by the MRCA.  The policy should be to restrict dogs to on-leash only and owners must pick up and properly dispose of dog waste.
The recreation zone report is expected to be voted on by LA City Council Ad-Hoc River Committee, Monday January 28, 2013.