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Montara Dog Group Raising Money for Legal Fight Over GGNRA Leash Law Changes

A june 2 event will fund a new partnership to oppose banning dogs in some GGNRA areas.

By Bill Bechtell

Greetings to the pack!

Before getting to the fundraising issue, I would like to digress a bit and tell you about a "David vs. Goliath" battle that occurred here on the Coastside.  

"Old timers" may remember that in the 1980s Caltrans proposed to construct the Devil's Slide Bypass, a road that would begin in Linda Mar, go over the mountains behind Devil's Slide, behind Montara and Moss Beach and rejoin Highway 1 at the airport. It would have decimated McNee Ranch State Park and what is now Rancho Corral de Tierra. A group of local citizens opposed to this project formed a committee to campaign against it. We submitted thousands of comments on Caltrans' EIS and several supplementals, and testified at numerous public hearings, but the project was approved anyway. We had to go to court to stop the bulldozers, and were joined in the lawsuit by the Sierra Club and Committee for Green Foothills. The case became moot when county voters passed an initiative supporting a tunnel instead of the bypass, and Caltrans agreed to build it.

Based on our experience with the Caltrans EIS, Peggy and I realized that in order to challenge the GGNRA's /EIS (DMP/EIS), in which they proposed to ban dogs from Rancho, we would need legal assistance. In the fall of 2010 I happened to attend a meeting at the San Francisco SPCA of an organization called "Eco-Dog." Eco-Dog is a coalition of dog groups from Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties promoting responsible off leash dog recreation within the GGNRA. There I met Martha Walters, Chairperson of the Crissy Field Dog Group, and attorney Ken Weiner, legal advisor to that group and an expert in NEPA law. I also met John Bock, Sr. environmental scientist with Tetra Tech, an environmental consulting firm that was advising Crissy Field Dog Group on technical issues. Because much of the DMP/EIS dealt with issues common to both Crissy Field Dog Group and Montara Dog Group, I thought it would be advantageous for Montara Dog Group to join forces with Crissy Field
Dog Group instead of hiring our own attorney. I assembled an ad hoc steering committee from Montara Dog Group, and all agreed that this would be a good way to go. An added advantage was that Crissy Field Dog Group is a 501(c)3 charitable non-profit organization, so all donations are tax deductible, and they already had a bank account set up. Crissy Field Dog Group agreed to the partnership, which has been very successful.

The services of Ken and Tetra Tech are very costly, but imperative to address the legal and technical aspects of this land use change (i.e. the further restrictions on dogs within the GGNRA). Crissy Field Dog Group and Montara Dog Group spent a total of $90,000 for legal and technical advice on the review of the draft DMP/EIS. The draft DMP/EIS was extremely flawed, and the comments provided by Ken and Tetra Tech were critical in identifying these flaws, forcing the GGNRA to reconsider their position and to issue the upcoming supplemental DMP/EIS. Also, the thousands of substantive comments submitted by yourselves, the concerned dog walkers, weighed heavily on their decision.

The defeat of the Devil's Slide Bypass project shows what a group of determined local citizens can do. I believe that we dog walkers are just as determined, and can defeat the GGNRA Goliath in their attempt to ban dogs from Rancho. Crissy Field Dog Group and Montara Dog Group have a combined goal of raising $75,000 to pay for the legal and technical review of the supplemental Dog Management Plan/EIS.

Come to the fundraiser in Montara on Saturday, June 2, from 11a.m. to 1p.m., and kick up your heels to the music of the great local band “Califuegos” while bidding on the many goods and services up for grabs at our live auction. Also, take your chances on winning a new iPad that will be raffled off!  All well-behaved four-legged friends are welcome. More details to follow next week...

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Patty Sambrailo May 10, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Yay Bill and your group! You are all about showing how people can be responsible dog owners and enjoy the great outdoors with them, without harm to anything or anybody! I plan to be there!
Dogbert May 11, 2012 at 02:09 AM
This is really unfortunate. The two aforementioned dog groups, Crissy Field Dog Group and Montara Dog Group have already blown their $90,000.00 legal budget on the very expensive legal resources of Ken Weiner et al of Seattle which did little more than give the GGNRA a heads up on how to dot their i's and cross their t's so that their DEIS would pass legal muster. The two groups selfishly and arrogantly decided to take the GGNRA on by their lonesomes rather than join a coaliton of affected dog groups and stakeholders under the umbrella of SFDOG. The SFDOG coalition is not only trying to save off-leash access at Crissy and Rancho but in all of the affected areas in San Francisco and Marin, as specified by the current law of the land, i.e., the 1979 GGNRA Pet Policy, as well as post 1979 acquisions in San Mateo County, e.g., Mori Point. It's very unfortunate that Mr. Bechtel and Ms. Walters have chosen to go the prima donna route and not concern themselves with the welfare of all dogs throughout the vast auspices of the entire 80,000 acre plus GGNRA. If you want to see what they got for their $90,000, please check out: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=11927 (fast forward to 1:47:20 for Mr. Weiner's presentation). sigh... --Dogbert

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