Dog Park Proposal - Rolling Hills Estates

Real Estate Agent with Remax Estate Properties - BRE #01368971

The following is a proposal which my husband Bruce and I have presented to the City of Rolling Hills Estates for the construction of a dog park on the former Palos verdes landfill Site:


Community Benefits

•1)    Allows dogs to exercise and socialize safely. Puppies and adult dogs need room to run, and enclosed play areas permit them to do so while preventing them from endangering themselves and others (for example, by running into the path of an oncoming vehicle). In addition, dogs who are accustomed to playing with animals and people other than their owners are more likely to be well-socialized and react well toward strangers.

•2)    Promotes responsible dog ownership. Dog parks prevent off-leash animals from infringing on the rights of other community residents and park users such as joggers, small children, and those who may be fearful of dogs. Parks also make it easier for a city to enforce its leash laws, as resident dog owners with park access have no reason to allow their canine companions off-leash when outside of the park.

•3)    Provides an outlet for dog owners to socialize. Dog parks are a great place for owners to meet other people with common interests. The love people share for their dogs reaches beyond economic and social barriers and helps to foster a sense of community. Park users also benefit from the opportunity to ask questions of other owners and find solutions to problems they might be having with their pet.

•4)    Dog owners are a substantial group of park users. The U.S. Humane Society states that thirty-nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog. On average, owners have almost two dogs (1.7).  The overwhelming numbers of dogs and dog owners would seem to warrant specific consideration for them as well. The demand for a dog park was demonstrated by our group collecting over 800 signatures on a petition to build a dog park on the former Palos Verdes Landfill site, which has been submitted to Andy Clark of the Parks Department.

•5)    Make for a better community by promoting public health and safety. Well-exercised dogs are better neighbors who are less likely to create a nuisance, bark excessively and destroy property. Their presence in the park, along with their owners, also helps to deter crime.

•6)    Provide a legal area to off-leash dogs. A balanced approach to accommodating dog owners in public open space may achieve higher levels of compliance by dog owners with relevant leash laws. Currently there is no place on the Palos Verdes Peninsula where dog owners may legally run and exercise their dogs off-leash. If dog owners perceive laws to be unfair it may elicit a defiant rather than a compliant response from dog owners - they may ignore the laws in protest. If, on the other hand, laws are perceived to be fair people will be more likely to voluntarily comply.

•7)    Provides elderly and disabled owners with an accessible place to exercise their companions.  Dogs provide companionship to many single or widowed elderly people, and a dog park provides an excellent place for them to take their dogs and enjoy the outdoors.

•8)    Many other communities have established dog parks.  Dog parks are not a brand new phenomenon. Many other communities have developed dog parks recognizing the strong demand. Some of the many places that have off-leash areas for dogs in California are: San Diego, Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, Los Angeles, Venice, Napa, Sonoma, Berkeley, Santa Monica, St. Helena, Huntington Beach, Davis, Laguna Niguel, Claremont, Redondo Beach, Redwood City, Danville, San Jose, Santa Clara, Foster City, and San Francisco. See a  list of other dog parks in Los Angeles County.

  Dog Park Design Elements

The Ideal Dog Park is designed to Include:

 1) Two acres or more surrounded by a 5' to 6' fence.  The dog areas should not be squared off or have 90 degree corners but should be rounded off so that dogs cannot be trapped by other dogs.

 2) Separate areas for large dogs and small dogs (i.e. 1 to 1.5 acres for large dogs and .5 to .75 acres for small dogs)

 3 Shade and water.  Shade is needed for both the dogs after they exercise to cool off but also for people, particularly the elderly.  Hopefully, the dog park design will incorporate existing on-site trees for shade and benches would be positioned in these areas. If not, shade structures can provide shade over benches ( see below) Specialized water fountains with permanent bowls to water the dogs as well as water fountain for people.

4) Adequate drainage.  This is particularly important around the dog watering station. Below is an example of permeable pavers that are used to prevent muddy areas from forming around the dog watering station. The pavers should be surrounded by a border of 1-2 inch pebbles.
For more information on LID design concepts featuring Permapave NW pavers, please see or email

5) Parking close to site.

6) Surface materials:  Higher use areas should have a material like decomposed granite or eucalyptus wood chips. The San Pedro dog park gets eucalyptus wood chips donated by local tree trimming and removal firms. This surface also provides a cushiony feel to it and can also help prevent injuries for elderly people who might fall. Fleas also hate the scent of eucalyptus, and will be quickly driven away from any area that smells of eucalyptus... Grass can be used in areas not right around the entry area, but is not generally used in the high traffic zones as it tends to get very thin very quickly due to dog urine and also has higher maintenance costs.

7) Covered garbage cans with regular trash removal.

8) Pooper scooper stations. Pooper Scooper for clean up: and a roll of plastic bags for fecal removal with waste bins closely spaced.  

9) Benches .  These are needed for the elderly and disabled, but should be relatively limited as dog owners should be encouraged to stand and interact with their dogs to keep them under control. Benches should be located away from the dog park entrance. Concrete benches are preferred. The surface should be incapable of allowing a dog's limb to get stuck in a narrow slot typical in the design of park benches. Benches should not have armrests or slats but should be solid. All -in - one picnic tables and shade structures are also available 

10) Wheel chair access.  Parking lots should be paved, and the entrance and areas leading to benches or tables and shade structures should be paved to provide handicap access.

11) Regular maintenance. Volunteer groups can be useful in helping to keep the park clean and maintained.

12)  Bulletin board that allows users to post notices 

13) Entry - double gated.  Two entry gates to prevent dogs from congregating around the entrance to possibly intimidate new dog arrivals. If there is only one entrance and exit gate, or one entrance and one exit gate, the dogs in the park quickly learn where newcomers will enter. They then congregate at the entrance which can result in fights or dogs escaping from the park. If there are a couple of ways for dogs to come in and out, they will not target a particular gate. To prevent fights between entering dogs and dogs already in the park, the dog park entrance should be far from the main center of dog activities.


Liability Issues:

At least one reason for the lack of claims is legal: the "dangerous condition" immunity from public liability probably relieves the public agency of liability, especially for the acts of third parties using the public property (Gov't. Code section 830 et. seq.; Jones v. Czapkay (1960) 182 Cal.App.2d 192).Nevertheless, the City should take precautions to protect itself (and the taxpayers) from potential liability. There are several ways to limit liability, including:

              A. Express assumption of liability and indemnification by users of the off-leash areas  This can be accomplished by conditioning the issuance of dog licenses on an express indemnification agreement, or by a "permissive use" ordinance change. The city of Claremont chose the latter approach. Its off-leash ordinance states in part:

     "The use of an off-leash area by a dog owner or other person having care, custody, or control of that shall constitute agreement by the dog owner and the person having care, custody, or control of that dog to... a  waiver of liability of the city, and his or her agreement to protect, indemnify, defend and hold harmless the city from any claim, injury, or damage arising from or in connection with such use." (City of Claremont Ordinance 11.02.125(E).)

              B. Signage: Full and complete signage, both advising visitors that the park is an off leash area and that they use the area at their own risk, and advising dog owners of their assumption of liability and hold harmless agreement.

             C. Insurance: I have seen several sources that state that due to the California law providing strict liability to a dog owner for any biting or damage caused by their dogs that the City is not liable for any problems created by the dog.  Therefore there should be no additional insurance coverage needed and the City's current liability policy should provide coverage with no additional premium.


Dog Park Rules:

  1. Puppies and dogs must be properly inoculated, be healthy (have no contagious conditions or diseases), and be parasite-free (both internally and externally).
  2. To help prevent dog fights, owners are encouraged to inquire about any dogs already in the run which are unfamiliar to them, prior to entering the run. Observing dogs' body language is also recommended
  3. No dogs known to be aggressive towards other dogs or people (or exhibiting any threatening behavior) may enter the run.
  4. No bitches in heat may enter the run at any time.
  5. Owners must clean up after their dogs.
  6. Owners are asked to closely supervise their dogs, and at no time should an owner leave the run without their dog(s).
  7. If the dog run is located near local residences, hospitals, schools or libraries, owners should discourage their dogs from barking excessively. This is especially important prior to 10AM and after 9PM.
  8. Parents must refrain from bringing toddlers and small children into the run. Parents are strongly discouraged from bringing children less than 12 years of age. Children should at no time be allowed to run with or chase after dogs in the dog run.
  9. Do not bring rawhide or food into the dog run as dogfights may result. Also be wary of using your dogs favorite toy which he/she may be very protective of with other dogs.
  10. For safety reasons, please remove pinch (prong) and spike collars from your dog  prior to entering the dog run. Many dogs and puppies have been injured by playing  with another dog who was wearing a pinch collar. A basic flat buckle collar (with  city license, Rabies and identification tags) is recommended.   Dog Park Manual


Start-up Costs

Gross Estimated Budget:

Fencing: ( 5 foot chain link fencing 2,000 liner ft. @ $10/lf, per A-1 Steel Fencing - 323-228-8598):  $20,000

3 triple gated entrance/exits(Two for large dog park at separate sides of the park and one for small dog park):  $2,500

Water Fountains (ADA compliant people and dog combo approx. $3,000 each - see picture above):   $6,000

Concrete work: 800 square feet of concrete patio area would cost approx. $7,500 ( per Lindahl Concrete (310) 326-6626).

Demolition and Grading (24 hours @170/hour per R.E.R Inc. 310-901-6834):   $4,000

Grass seeding, Decomposed granite or mulch and ground prep : $6,000

Water meter and waterline and irrigation:  $12,000

Bulletin Board: $1,200

Signage: $1,300

Dog Poop bag dispenser 5@ 600  each : $3,000

Benches- Concrete ( (3@ $750 each ):   $2,250  (optional combination picnic bench and canopy (pictured above ) is $3,000 each )

Trash containers:  2@ $270 each :  $550


Total of above costs:   $66,300

General Conditions/Overhead @6%: $4,300

Profit @ 7% : $ 5,000

Design fees/continency @ 5%: $3,400

Total Costs: $ 79,000

Note: These cost estimates do not include costs for paving the entrance road or parking area.



Maintenance Costs

The maintenance of dog parks varies tremendously, depending on the size of the park and the surface materials used.

Trash containers should be emptied daily and waste scoops restocked when needed. While owners are typically required to clean up after their dogs, it is inevitable that some areas will be missed, especially if dogs are running free. We believe staff will be needed to clean up the area regularly. Clean-up rounds should be made weekly to make sure that the park is free from excessive waste. It is also recommended that the fencing and other equipment be hosed down frequently to prevent urine stains and odors.

Park professionals in other areas of the country estimate approximately $8,000 in annual maintenance costs. This includes about 3 hours per week in cleaning labor, grass cutting, refilling scooper dispensers, printing costs for dog park literature, etc.


Proposed Location:

The proposed location for the dog park is the southwest corner of the former Palos Verdes Landfill site adjacent to Hawthorne Boulevard and across the street from Ernie Howlett Park.  This location already has a curb cut and paved entrance and parking area immediately off of Hawthorne Boulevard.  There is also a system of sprinklers on the site therefore a water source is available for drinking fountains and sprinklers for any grass border areas planned for the dog park. This location would provide good off street parking and would not create any problems with crowds, parking, or noise for residential neighbors.  This location would also be a great location for a skate park and could share parking with such a use

Close up view of the proposed dog park area.  Notice driveway and existing paved road and graded parking area.  This area would be perfect for a dog park as there are several mature existing trees to provide shade areas.


Requirements for Use of the Dog Park:

All Dogs using the dog park should have a dog tag issued by the City of Rolling Hills Estates. To obtain a dog tag, the dog owner would have to show evidence of vaccinations and a valid dog license from their city of residence.  To raise funds for maintenance of the dog park, the city could charge an annual fee for obtaining the dog tag.

If you would like to support the construction of a dog park in Rolling Hills Estates, email me at

My husband and I will be making this proposal to the Rolling Hills Estates Parks and Activities Commission on Tuesday evening May 18th at 7:30 pm at Rolling Hills Estates City Hall just west on Palos Verdes Drive North from Crenshaw Blvd. Your attendance at this meeting to show your support would be greatly appreciated.


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Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR

Maureen,  We have a dog park here in Boca Raton called Mizner Bark.  I've blogged about it, but not sure I'm supposed to link here or not.  It was put in by the city a few years ago.  It's a very popular place with the locals. 

Your idea is a good one.  I hope you get it passed.

May 12, 2010 12:37 PM #1
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Maureen Megowan

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