WeHo Council Approves Park Plan after Mayor Barks for More Room for Dogs

WeHo Park, west hollywood parkAnd what about our dogs? That was the question raised by Mayor John D’Amico and West Hollywood residents Monday night as the City Council was asked to approve the next step in the lengthy process of redeveloping West Hollywood Park.

The Council agreed to add $5.8 million to the $80 million budgeted for the redevelopment of the park. But it also asked the designers working on the project to investigate options for allowing dogs off leash in the park. The Council also asked that the park include an area where teams could play soccer or other outdoor sports. And it asked the designers to consider adding one underground level to parking planned on El Tovar Place or to use a system where cars would be stacked three-high.

GRAND stair, west hollywood park
Grand Stair rendering (LPA Inc. / Rios Clementi Hale Studios)
In a city known for its love of dogs, the lack of canine facilities got the most attention. D’Amico pointed out that the park redevelopment plan included three play areas for children. Noting what he called the city’s “institutional fetishization of kids,” D’Amico asked why it didn’t also include a dog play area.

“We have 400 kids who live in this city, and we have 30,400 adults who have dogs,” D’Amico said. Children make up roughly five percent of the city’s population of a little more than 34,000 people.

D’Amico’s call for an off-leash dog area was echoed by Manny Rodriguez, a resident of West Hollywood West, who noted that the city has banned the sale of fur, banned circuses and banned puppy mills in an effort to show that it is animal-friendly. “It’s counter-intuitive to me that this wasn’t even studied,” Rodriquez said of failure of planners to include a dog area in the park.

John Bergara, another resident, also argued for a dog area. “We have lots of dogs… they have nowhere to go,” he said. “We’re not talking about a $50 million dog park. We’re talking about carving our some dirt.”

D’Amico was joined by Councilmember Jeffrey Prang in asking that the park include an area where adults could play field sports. Organizers of some local LGBT sports leagues, many of whose members are West Hollywood residents, have complained that there isn’t room for them in the city’s Plummer Park or West Hollywood Park.

D’Amico and Prang didn’t, however, request that a space be designated for a formal soccer or kickball or softball field. West Hollywood Park was home to a baseball field that was paved over for a parking lot in 2009 when construction began on the city’s new library. When the first phase of the park redesign was completed in 2012, that parking lot was eliminated in favor of the open grassy area and the present basketball courts.

Of the additional $5.8 million approved for the park redevelopment last night, $3 million would go toward building a dramatic “grand stair” rising from the park grounds toward the entrance to the recreation center on its south end. The designer, LPA Inc. and Rios Clementi JHale Studios, described the stairs and the plaza at their top as a place where residents could sit and relax. The stairs also could be used as seating for performances in the park below.

The proposed “grand stair” drew praise from Council members and public speakers, with some noting that it would be one of the park’s most distinguishing features.

Another $400,000 was authorized to create an entryway to the park where El Tovar Place intersects with Robertson Boulevard. The Council added $200,000 to create what planners are calling the “San Vicente Gardens” from which visitors can enter the park from San Vicente Boulevard, $100,000 to add outdoor exercise equipment for adults and $100,000 to build a freestanding bathroom with two toilets. The remainder of the $2 million projected increase in costs is attributed mostly to rising market costs for various elements of the park redevelopment.

Councilmembers Abbe Land and John Heilman had reservations about adding a designated off-leash area for dogs to the park, with Heilman asking that the designers also consider other options such as designating a certain time of day when unleashed dogs could be allowed in the park.

“I think we need to be very, very careful as we think about this,” Land said. “I just want to make sure we don’t do something that creates an inability to use the park as intended.”

Land suggested the Council ask the city’s Public Facilities Commission to evaluate the impact on the park of an off-leash area for dogs.

D’Amico rejected that idea. “I am concerned that if we are sending this to the Public Facilities Commission we are sending it to its death,” he said.

With the Council’s approval last night of the proposed park layout, the next step is to actually finalize its design. Construction is expected to begin in June of next year with the park redevelopment completed in 2018.

The redevelopment involves demolishing existing structures in the park so as to expand the open green space. Where once the park had less than two acres of such space, on its completion it will have five acres of open space. A recreation center, which will include two swimming pools on its roof, will be built at the south end of the park.

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Richard Karliss
Richard Karliss
7 years ago

Lassie for Mayor!

mikey
mikey
7 years ago

where do I begin…… The library is new, striking, and a sheer pain for any senior or disabled to enjoy… reaching the library area involves taking an elevator to the park level, walking down a long hallway to an another elevator, and then walking down another long hallway to the library desk…..terrible design…..It’s asking us to enter through the back door….2 elevators and 2 long hallways. Much easier to drive to beverly hills and enjoy the ease and convenience of their library. Now I see plans for a grand staircase….beautiful and a total waste and inconvenience. Haven’t we learned anything… Read more »

Shawn Thompson
Shawn Thompson
7 years ago

‘m just blown away how our long term council members dragged their feet at council r on the simplicity of having a off leash dog park in a project that’s costing us 80 MILLION n #weho? I mean really? All the the residents that came and spoke at the MTG asking for it? The demographic of pets in #weho? Isnt that how our government works idealy? The council serves the needs of the residents? We have ENOUGH PARKING METERS, we have ENOUGH TICKET TRAPS. Serve the needs of the RESIDENTS with PETS!

mike dunn
7 years ago

JJ
One of the posts concerning West Hollywood Park again endorsed the idea of evicting the MTA and Sheriffs Station in order to extend the park across San Vicente Bl. on to the two parcels.

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  mike dunn

@ Mike: The County of Los Angeles owns the land the MTA and Sheriff’s station are on. The City of West Hollywood can’t evict either the MTA or the Sheriff’s station because they don’t own the land. The County entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (for a 24 month period) with a developer (Cohen) in order to assess the feasibility of developing that land and putting the buses under ground (something that should be done) and incorporating the Sheriff’s station into the new development (the current station is too small for the department). That is a total dead stretch of… Read more »

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  mike dunn
mike dunn
7 years ago
Reply to  JJ

Sorry JJ but I’m out of town on my lap top that needs to be up graded and can not access that web site.

kayaytche
kayaytche
7 years ago

Manny, I agree with your statements on a fenced in dog park and the socialization it will produce. To all the dog area naysayers, perhaps you should get a dog and experience the joy that they bring! I also think Rudolf Martin has made a great point about green spaces becoming brown spaces if large, shade-producing trees are not introduced. It will be so sad to see either the grass dry up or the bills produced by its maintenance. Luca, I hear what you’re saying about homeless assistance, but why would that come from the park budget? Or are you… Read more »

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  kayaytche

I don’t have a dog at the moment, but I have had a couple over the years and I know what joy they bring, thank you. What I want to see is the need of people come before the need of dogs. Time and time again focus groups main priority for this redesign was to add to the green space (something West Hollywood doesn’t have much of) while providing as many functions for the people who use the park as possible. If they can situate an off-leash dog area within the redesign of the park without taking away from the… Read more »

Manny
Manny
7 years ago

In the original pitch made by this design firm a dog park was shown on the northwest corner of the park…..It disappeared. Now we have 4 basketball courts (2 inside and 2 outside) and 3 playgrounds. A fenced in (must be fenced) off-leash dog park fits perfectly in this “not so small” park. It will not only socialize dogs but also their human companions. Isn’t that what a park is suppose to do? New York City has installed new high tech medium size off leash dog parks all over Manhattan. If such a high density city is able to install… Read more »

mike dunn
7 years ago

Removing the miss designated MTA Operating Division, it’s not a bus depot, is laughable. Where do all the anti MTA suggest the MTA store and service about 300 buses on the westside? The division was a cornerstone in the development in what we call West Hollywood today. Many may not like it but government facilities have to be locally located as Division 7 is. Fallowing the anti MTA philosophy the City Hall, Sherriff’s Station and the two Fire Stations should be relocated out of the city.In addition, the MTA is the largest single employer in West Hollywood with many of… Read more »

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  mike dunn

@ Mike: MTA, buses? WhAt page are you on? We’re talking West Hollywood Park Phase 2 here.

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
7 years ago

I do like the space saving pool-on-the-roof concept and I don’t even mind the “dramatic grand stair”. Sure, like most people I find the price tag laughable, cities always get taken to the cleaners on these things, but I can’t wait to sit on it and meditate on the fact that it cost that much. I still don’t get how we paid $80,000.00 on rainbow colored crosswalks when the restaurant on Robertson painted one in their courtyard for what,… like $800? There has to be a Phase 2 for better or worse, the park is unfinished as of now. However,… Read more »

Mike Dolan
Mike Dolan
7 years ago

I completely agree with you JJ. Kudos. West Hollywood Park, once Phase II is completed, will make up the City’s park with the largest green space. However, Plummer Park, yet to see Phase 1 could potentially have the largest green space as it is the largest park in West Hollywood. I hope when the City is able to re-boot Plummer Park Plan; this will come to pass.

Alison
Alison
7 years ago

“I think we need to be very, very careful as we think about this,” Land said. “I just want to make sure we don’t do something that creates an inability to use the park as intended.” This statement by Abbe Land bothers me a lot. A park is a park. It should be a place where people go to relax and do whatever. Who is she to say the park has “intended” uses. This is why we fight for Plummer Park. We don’t want her to say what uses our park has. A dog park definitely should be part of… Read more »

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  Alison

Intended uses as determined by the people. Priorities – Human use of the park over dog use of the park. Elevators will be provided for the elderly, disabled, people with strollers, and the homeless with their shopping carts). Staircase is more than just stairs (as described by the designers at the meeting last night). The staircase will be a gathering spot (like outdoor amphitheater seating for performances in the park, or to sit and read a book) and a stair exercise run (like the stairs in Santa Monica). So many people want so many things from a small piece of… Read more »

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
7 years ago

We’re praising city council for including a dog area and missing the fact that this “park” is costing $86 million dollars for a town that only has 34,000 people? Did we forget the library cost us millions but is only open 11am-7pm. Our park is fine with a few minor enhancements. I see no justification on spending this kind of money.

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  SaveWeho

It seems like the majority of residents having been wanting improvements and expansion of the park for so long (has been a top priority in all the community outreach seminars) and we look forward to enjoying the end results! (We also realize that a project of this magnitude is a very costly endeavor but we know it will benefit our City greatly!) Great job to everyone involved!!

luca d
luca d
7 years ago

children, ah, …oops, dogs are our future.
just hoping that we don’t have to roll around dog mess on these open spaces.
seems that the unwillingness to have a place of dogs is dog-ist,a hideous form of discrimination. will counsel candidates want name this part of the park, ‘dogtown’?
is there anything in the park budget to help the west hollywood chronic homeless, maybe money for a phone call to family or perhaps appropriate social services?
or, can the park developers section out an area for ‘temporay’ park residents?

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