Cigarettes out, dogs restricted under proposed park rules

May 6, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: May 6, 3:57 p.m.

What do you get when you combine soccer, dogs and cigarettes? The Sammamish Parks Department hopes not to find out.
On April 15, Parks Director Jessi Bon presented a series of newly-proposed regulations for parks to the City Council.
The new regulations all but bans dogs from large parts of Sammamish parks. Four-legged friends, even on a leash, would no longer be permitted on athletic fields, in picnic shelters, or in water bodies and their associated beaches, docks and nearby marine areas.
Bon said she understands some dog owners like to take their pets to swim at city lakes, but noted that lakes are sensitive areas ecologically.* She also noted some areas where dogs are currently allowed might also be taken off the list if the animals destroy vegetation.
Councilman Don Gerend was skeptical of the regulations.
“I think we’re setting ourselves up for regulations we’re not going to enforce,” he said.
He noted the new rules would technically prohibit people from bringing dogs to the Pine Lake concerts in the park. That, in turn could set up confrontations between dog owners who ignore the law and those who obey it.
Bon agreed it might be difficult to enforce the ban, but said the council should worry first about setting up the regulations, then focus on increasing enforcement if needed.
The council seemed to generally support Bon’s opinion, noting the idea is to keep the parks safe for everyone, and dogs can be left at home.
“The parks need to be usable by all families, not just the ones who have dogs,” said Mayor Tom Vance.

No smoking
The rules also call for a general ban on smoking in parks, along with bans on chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.
“What we’re trying to do is discourage the use of cigarettes in a public facility,” said Parks Commission Chairman Hank Klein.
Councilwoman Nancy Whitten objected to the rules, saying they went too far into regulating a legal behavior – something the city doesn’t usually do.
“There are good reasons for being a big brother and saying you can’t skate at the skate park without a helmet, but we don’t do that,” she said. “I think smokers do have rights. I think this is too broad, and I think we’re in danger of being big brother.”
The rest of the council rejected Whitten’s arguments.
“I’m out for fresh air. I don’t want to smell cigarettes,” Vance said.
Councilman Ramiro Valderrama suggested the city add hookahs to its list of prohibited types of smoking.

Swimming and boating
The regulations also set up rules for swimming and boating. Generally, they forbid boats from going into designated swimming areas. It also designated some swimming areas, particularly at Sammamish Landing Park.
At the park on the Lake Sammamish shore, swimming would be prohibited at the northern dock. It would generally be allowed to the north and east of the south dock. Boats would be allowed on the southern side of the south dock.
Boats would also not be allowed within 50 feet of someone who is swimming.
Gerend noted that on Pine and Beaver lakes, boats are moving slowly, so it might make sense to be more flexible with the regulations there. Bon will investigate that possibility.
The council is set to vote on the regulations May 6.

* This version corrects comments about dogs and their impact on areas near the water.

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13 Responses to “Cigarettes out, dogs restricted under proposed park rules”

  1. John Burg on May 6th, 2014 6:32 pm

    City staff should be fired for coming up with these absurd rules for the parks. Obviously, they have nothing else to do but make up absurd non-factual rules. First, dogs do not relieve themself in water. Does anyone on staff even own a dog?
    Second, why would an e-cigarette be banned in a park, it does not emit smoke, just water vapor.
    What is next, banning shorts that go above the knee or yellow shirts.

  2. Frank Blau on May 6th, 2014 7:03 pm

    I think these are great additions to the Sammamish Parks regulations.

    As for Don Gerend’s objections… I will just say that I don’t think the purpose of creating legislation is to only write legislation that we think people will follow without enforcement. That kind of thinking leads to not writing any legislation at all. Sometimes we create laws to MODIFY behavior too. And if the council is worried about it not being enforced (as am I), then THEY are the ones in a position to do something about that.

    Thanks Jessi!

    Frank Blau

  3. Scott Hamilton on May 7th, 2014 2:54 am

    “Bon said she understands some dog owners like to take their pets to swim at city lakes, but noted that animals might relieve themselves in the water….”

    Oh, Brother. I think it more likely people will relieve themselves in the water than dogs. The larger issue is that the wildlife pooping and peeing in the water.

    For some reason Sammamish has a war on dogs. Next the city will decide dogs need to be on leashes at the off-leash dog park.

  4. Commie Rules again on May 7th, 2014 7:15 am

    Here we go again. More and more of less and less freedoms for the people who pay the bills! Dogs save lives in wars and on our streets. They are used in hospitals and old folks homes to speed healing. And talk about peeing in the water? I am willing to bet that EVERYONE that goes in the lake at one point pees in the water and kids in diapers crap in their pants in the lake too! These are just dog hating people, period. What’s next commrades? No kids in the parks during adult hours? You can only bike to parks in Sammamish? You can’t enter the park in you are a Republican because you opposed unnecessarytaxes to help pay for overpriced parks staff who do nothing all day? Just remember folks, you voted for these fools so you are stuck with them!

  5. Bob S on May 7th, 2014 7:33 pm

    “The parks need to be usable by all families, not just the ones who have dogs,” said Mayor Tom Vance.

    Who ever said the parks were just for dog owners??? Can’t believe he thinks that’s the way it is.
    Are they thinking about restricting non dog owners???

  6. Scott Hamilton on May 8th, 2014 11:39 am

    @Bob S: Sammamish is and has been schizoid since inception about who this city is for. It started with Kid Safe, Family Friendly (which is still cited to this day)–for which the corollary is Adult Unsafe, Single Unfriendly.

    Families like to bring their dogs on picnics and beach events–and to the Thursday night concerts at Pine Lake Park. At the latter, I’ve seen dogs having a great time, kids petting and enjoying dogs (not just their own), etc. Dogs often are the “ice-breaker” for strangers to converse.

    Now the most popular event in the city, the 4th of July fireworks, is in jeopardy because of the construction for the community center (where the fireworks are staged), something that brings more than 10,000 people out (or so they say).

    Having served on the planning commission with Tom Vance, I can tell you that Tom gets an idea in his head, locks onto it and closes his mind to other viewpoints. This is merely another example.

  7. KJ Doyle on May 10th, 2014 5:57 pm

    I have a brillant idea! Since kids relieve themselves in pools much more than dogs in lakes (which a dog will not if it is swimming) let’s make kids in the community pool illegal! Oh, and I like how the newspaper has edited this online copy now to take that comment out by Bon. This is crazy that a few people can come up with new rules for almost 50,000 people. I pay for these parks. I am a responsible pet owner. My dogs are socialized and they know how to behave in public. Bon said “dogs can be left at home”. This is a park! I enjoy running with my dog to the Sammamish Landing and sitting on the dock before running back to the car. And now you are telling me I can’t do that! And the Mayor saying, “The parks need to be usable by all families, not just the ones with dogs.” Really?! So now my rights are being taken away. I am so fed up with the city council in this city.

  8. KJ Doyle on May 10th, 2014 5:59 pm

    @ Frank…How often do YOU use a park? My guess is not very often!

  9. Frank Blau on May 11th, 2014 5:02 pm

    Only if you consider “every day” and “sometimes twice a day” as “not very often.

    Ask anyone in the parks, most of them know me. :)

  10. Jon Knight on May 18th, 2014 2:37 pm

    Saying no to smoking in certain areas is reasonable, but chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes pose no threat to anyone. E cigs vapor is as dangerous as putting a vaporizer in a child’s room.

    I for one will ignore any new bans and continue to vape wherever I please

  11. Holly B. on June 4th, 2014 2:13 am

    My dogs are part of my family! They are vaccinated and dewormed (unlike some children these days) I keep them on a leash and clean up after them. Kids pee in pools and lakes, and for the younger ones, the swim diapers are a joke; nothing stops peeing. I have never seen a dog defecate in a lake; and it’s water fowl, pesticides, motor oil and fertilizers that pollute the water. I have seen kids destroy fences, bushes and rip limbs off trees and throw trash on the ground; most dogs do not run free and cause this kind of damage. I know we have many families who are from other countries that are terrified of dogs. I wonder if this is what is causing these prejudice, unwarranted regulations? I have kids of my own and I work with kids for a living. Believe me kids are much dirtier, and looking around Sammamish, worse behaved than dogs. There will always be irresponsible dog owners as well as irresponsible parents. But, for the majority dogs are well cared for and socialized. Dogs were already banned from the Farmers Market and Wednesdays I have to take two separate walks because of this. I WILL NOT be doing that when I take my kids to the park. I do not know the percentage of dog owners in Sammamish, but I am sure it’s significant. I pay my taxes and I will bring my WHOLE family to the park.

  12. kj doyle on June 12th, 2014 11:50 pm

    It’s time for entire new city council! A city council with some common sense!

  13. Bill Saunders on July 26th, 2014 11:34 am

    Well this sure made King County mad at me. I absolutely refuse to renew my dog’s licence. I mean why should I if I can’t take her to the park. Now she is a condo dog and King County lost there money, thanks Sammamish.

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