Pet owners getting dogged looking for a place to park 

The fresh sod on Miraloma Park’s baseball field is sparking a grass-is-greener debate between dog lovers and parents — one that may seem familiar to San Francisco residents who have been on either side of that fence.

The City spent $250,000 to renovate the field, which reopened this spring, said Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, whose district covers the neighborhood that sits on the eastern side of Mount Davidson. Since then, Elsbernd has received an earful from local parents unhappy about dog owners using the field as a play area.

"We never had any problems there, but now that The City has invested some money in the field, it's one problem after another," Elsbernd said. "We turned it into a beautiful field, and now everyone wants a piece of it."

While San Francisco has roughly 110,000 residents under 18, according to 2006 census data, The City has between 120,000 and 150,000 dogs, according to estimates from Animal Care and Control. The City’s parks consist of 29 off-leash areas for dogs and 11 acres of playground space, according to a report from the Sunnyside Park Families and Neighbors.

Before Miraloma Park’s renovation, five to 10 neighbors used to gather each evening to let their dogs play, said Linda Bauman, who brought her two children to the playground Sunday. However, since the park reopened, San Francisco has been stricter about enforcing leash laws, she said.

"If I had a dog, I’d be [upset about the increased enforcement]," said Bauman, though she added that she doesn’t mind dogs in the park "as long as people pick up the poop."

In San Francisco, tensions in the past between parents and dog owners have created turf wars in city parks, most notably at Duboce Park. Two years ago, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission divided the green space into "no dogs," "dogs-on-leash" and "dogs-off-leash" areas.

But Elsbernd said he doesn't think further changes will come to Miraloma Park soon.

"People talk about a separate dog run, but that requires money, and the playground is next [for renovations]," Elsbernd said. "This budget season, I don't think there’s a lot of discretionary capital to go around."

Elsbernd and the Miraloma Park Improvement Club will host a meeting Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. to hear locals’ input on use of the field and playground.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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Beth Winegarner

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