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Sonoma Dog Lovers Await Word on Montini Preserve

If the city decides to take ownership of the 95 acres, it can decide whether to amend the rules to allow canines.

At least one Sonoma dog lover isn't going to let the city council forget that canine owners are still waiting for a bigger dog park in the city and they haven't forgotten the possibility of dog use in Montini Preserve.

Bob Edwards, a board member of Sonoma Valley Dog Owners and Guardians, spoke before the council at its meeting Monday night, to remind members to consider dogs during negotiations about the possible transfer of the Montini Open Space Preserve to the city.

The 95.5-acre property, adjacent to the north of General Vallejo's home, is currently operated by Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. It was purchased by the District from the Montini family in 2005. Under the management plan for the preserve, pets are not allowed, city planner David Goodison told Patch on Tuesday. That management plan, prepared by the Open Space District, would still govern the property if the preserve goes into city ownership, he said.

Edwards told the council, "I was at a public meeting in 2009 where a number of dog owners showed up. We were assured that if the property were transferred to the city, the council could make that decision (about dog use)."

After the closed session on the negotiations and another matter, Mayor Ken Brown said the council had nothing to report out.

On Tuesday, Goodison told Patch the council is expected to discuss the Montini Preserve and possibly take action in open session at its meeting on Feb. 11.

If the transfer goes ahead, "the City could initiate an amendment to the management plan in order to allow leashed dogs on the trail that will be developed on the Preserve or possibly even a dog park," Goodison told Patch by email.

"Under the amendment process, the City would be required to demonstrate that: 1) allowing dogs would not significantly degrade the habitat value of the Preserve, and 2) that allowing dogs would be consistent with the acquisition objectives associated with the purchase of the Preserve. In addition, the Open Space District would need to approve any amendment to the Management Plan," Goodison wrote.

In an interview with Patch before the meeting, Edwards said Sonoma is not a dog friendly city.

"There are no trails in Sonoma where you can take dogs. Every county park in the Bay Area allows dogs," he said.

Dogs are allowed on city bike paths that serve as trails, Goodison told Patch.

There's currently a small dog park beside the Community Center on First Street West. The city has previously considered a couple of other properties—on 5th Street West and on 7th Street East—as possible additional dog parks. Edwards told Patch that neither of those locations was suitable due to inadequate parking, too much traffic or being too far from the central city.

"We want a centrally located place in town that residents and tourists can easily walk to," he said. Edwards said the current dog park is too small.

TELL US: Do you think the city of Sonoma needs another dog park? Where do you think it should be located? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Susan Gallo January 30, 2013 at 02:47 PM
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that dogs will be allowed. The Overlook Trail is right there for those who wish to hike in a dog free environment. Let's give it a try and show the city what responsible dog ownership looks like!
Sheri Cardo January 30, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Dogs on leash have minimal impact on an environment (certainly less than cows) and trail walking with dogs is an appropriate amenity to offer residents, usually half of whom enjoy dogs as part of their families. Sonoma County Regional Parks generally allows dogs on its lands without significant problems. The key is keeping dogs on leash and doing what you can to ensure that people adhere to that policy. It's especially important that dogs be leashed in wild lands with wildlife, for everyone's sake.
Bob G January 31, 2013 at 01:08 AM
"...Edwards said Sonoma is not a dog friendly city." So, so true and so sad. Love over due for the City Council to step up and remedy this unjustifiable situation, not just with the possible takeover of Montini but by providing more dog parks throughout the town.

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