The Longview City Council on Thursday approved leash laws in city parks.
The ordinance would exclude parks, such as Gerhart Gardens, that are designated as “off-leash.” The council also voted to direct the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board to consider additional areas for the designation.
Only Councilman Ken Botero opposed both motions.
“Even though this is a good start for a leash law, I’m going to have a hard time supporting it,” Botero said. “If we’re going to have a leash law, it should be citywide and not just pick on certain parks.”
A handful of people in the audience spoke in favor of the leash law, including Dawn Campbell, who said she also would like to see more off-leash areas.
“I support the leash (law). I think we need to protect our babies and our humans. But ... something needs to be in place for cats too,” she said.
Spencer Boudreau, who serves on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, said the leash law was “common sense.”
“This isn’t a restriction on dog owners. It isn’t a burden or inconvenience,” he said. “Bring dogs into the parks, bring cats into the parks … just make sure they are on a leash.”
The ordinance does not apply to guide dogs, service animals or law enforcement animals.
There will be no leash length requirements but pets must be under physical control of their owners. Violations would be subject to a $200 fine.
In response to concerns about sudden and heavy-handed punishments, City Attorney Jim McNamara said enforcement would focus on communication and education.
“The fact of prohibition usually keeps the majority in compliance,” McNamara said.
Councilman Mike Wallin said he had been unsure about the ordinance, but he decided to vote for it.
“With this comes some signage and some awareness and a community that’s more thoughtful about how their animals may behave,” Wallin said. “If this can make our parks feel more safe and more welcoming so more people can enjoy our parks, then I’ll support this.”
The council also recognized 16 volunteers whose terms on boards and commissions ended in 2017.
“There’s a lot of great people that do a lot of great things in our city and help us out on our boards and commissions,” Mayor Don Jensen said. “So tonight we are going to honor those that have shown up with certificates and pins.”
City Manager Kurt Sacha read each name aloud, but none of the recipients were present to accept the awards in person Thursday night.
In other business, the council:
- Approved a $317,000 bid from Catworks Construction of Battle Ground to replace the water main along Nichols Boulevard.
- Amended the stormwater management code to comply with the city’s Municipal Stormwater Permit.
- Authorized use of the $2.1 million Rural County Public Facility Grant to widen the SR 432 off-ramp and add a left-turn lane onto Third Avenue.
- Heard the Longview Fire Department’s annual report.