The following is a reprint of an aticle which appeared today on page 3 of the South Bay Daily Breeze regarding my husband's and my efforts to get a dog park built on the Palos Verdes Peninsula:
Couple works to fetch dog park for Hill
Knock on the door of the Palos Verdes Estates home of Bruce and Maureen Megowan and you will be greeted with nonstop wiggling, whining, jumping and rolling over.
This irrepressible display of enthusiasm comes from Pepper, the couple's 4-year-old miniature Australian shepherd, who cannot be calmed by soothing entreaties from the Megowans or even by a visitor's embrace.
"You can see why we need a dog park: She has a lot of nervous energy," said Bruce Megowan.
It's in part because of Pepper that the Megowans are on a mission to establish a spot for canines to play off leash on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, with the idea that it would serve all four cities on The Hill.
The two closest fenced-in, off-leash dog parks are a bit of a drive: on 190th Street in Redondo Beach and in northeast San Pedro at Knoll Hill.
Last year, Bruce Megowan began gathering the signatures of dog owners at local pet supply stores and veterinary offices. His petition garnered 814 supporters, he said.
He has since made presentations to the elected council of his own city, as well as those of neighboring Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes. (Gated Rolling Hills has no public land and thus no space for a park.)
Though he has received some nods of support - especially for a location in a city other than the one in question - Megowan had not seen much in the way of action until earlier this month. At a Rancho Palos Verdes City Council meeting, officials presented plans for developments at two under-used city parks that would include off-leash areas for dogs.
"Now there really is movement," said Maureen Megowan, a local residential real estate agent.
South Bay dog owners struggled for years to create the park in Redondo Beach, which opened in 1993, and at the 7-year-old San Pedro location. So it's no surprise that selling the concept is not simple on the largely affluent Palos Verdes Peninsula, where residents
Bruce and Maureen Megowan, along with Pepper, have been crusading for over a year to get a dog park built on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. (Steve McCrank Staff Photographer)are extremely protective of their neighborhoods and are often resistant to change.
At the Rancho Palos Verdes meeting earlier this month, several residents said they did not want a dog park near their homes, citing concerns about noise and traffic.
But City Manager Carolyn Lehr said many residents already let their dogs off-leash regardless of regulations. The newly developed parks, she said, would create a space where that activity would be sanctioned.
It's an undeniable need, say the Megowans and their supporters. Pet dogs should be allowed to run off-leash for exercise, and they need to adjust to the company of other canines to be properly socialized, they say.
And pooches aren't the only ones who could benefit from dog parks.
"The thing about getting together with dogs is it's great for people, too. It's a social activity," said Bruce Megowan, who is retired from a career in commercial real estate.
The other parks in the South Bay are really too far to be a daily trip for many dog owners on The Hill, he said.
Another motivating factor has been the uncertain fate of the San Pedro location, which is on a temporary site on Port of Los Angeles property and was significantly reduced in size and relocated in 2007. (A port spokesman said there are no plans or impending deadline that would force the closure of the Knoll Hill dog park.)
The Megowans said their quest began several years ago when - after a resident's violent confrontation with a stray dog - the city of Palos Verdes Estates began cracking down on dog owners who illegally let their dogs off leash on city and school district property.
That left many residents with no place to let their pets run or play Frisbee.
They asked for a dog park in Palos Verdes Estates, but were told by officials in the manicured city that it was not feasible.
The Megowans came up with the idea of a dog park at the former Palos Verdes Landfill in Rolling Hills Estates. The subject of a lengthy battle over an unsuccessful proposal to convert the 173-acre site into a golf course, the landfill would make an excellent location for a dog park, the Megowans argue.
"I was seeking an area that would have the fewest number of complaints from neighbors," Bruce Megowan said.
Then, this month, the possibility of two dog parks in Rancho Palos Verdes unexpectedly came up.
Outgoing Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor Larry Clark said the phrase "dog park" incites a strong reaction in his city.
Clark and his fellow council members were bombarded by e-mails, calls and letters in September 2008, when the panel gave preliminary approval to the Annenberg Foundation to pursue plans for an animal-
focused educational center at Lower Point Vicente.
Residents "were excited about it (including) a dog park, but that's not part of the project," said Clark, the owner of two Welsh corgis. "It really showed, without any kind of encouragement, how pent up the demand is for that kind of facility."
Clark said the other mayors on Palos Verdes Peninsula had told him they support a dog park catering to all four cities.
"It frankly would be a no-brainer, an easy opportunity to show collaboration among the cities on The Hill," Clark said. "Then it becomes an issue of siting."
Clark plans to pursue the issue after he is out of office next week, including lobbying county Supervisor Don Knabe for a possible location at the county's Deane Dana Friendship Community Regional Park.
The Megowans said they'll continue to push for all sites.
"We're working on multiple fronts, hoping we at least get something," Bruce Megowan said.
Meanwhile, Pepper will be waiting very, very eagerly.
For more information about Palos Verdes and South Bay Real Estate and buying and selling a home on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, visit my website at http://www.maureenmegowan.com . I try to make this the best real estate web blog in the South Bay Los Angeles and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I would love to hear your comments or suggestions.