Arroyo Grande dog park needs more oversight

January 12, 2015

Arroyo Grande dog parkOPINION BY PATTY WELSH

The Five Cities Dog Park Association has plans to put artificial grass in the majority of a large dog park in Arroyo Grande, and I have some concerns about the project.

Let me start by saying I have used the dog park ever since it has opened in 2009, and my dogs love being able to socialize with other dogs in a safe and healthy off-leash dog park. I have lived in Arroyo Grande for 15 years, and participate in city council meetings, sanitation district meetings, was on the save the village group and try to stay informed and involved, but I have found that hard to do with this project and I feel those who use the park have the right to know.

The association recently spent $5,200 to put in a nice kiosk to post information on. However, they do not use it to keep us informed of projects using donated money until the very last moment, as was the case with the artificial grass.

They sent a letter to the parks and recreation commissioners on Nov. 22, yet failed to post it in the kiosk for all to read. It was not until after Dec 10, when the project got approved that they posted what they would be doing. And the project will be 5,400 square feet of artificial grass, boarded by decomposing granite and paths to gates, and then wood chips around that.

The reason for the project is that the association has received complaints of splinters in dog feet from the wood chips, dogs eating the wood chips, and glass and metal found in the chips. We used to have real grass, however it died because there was no irrigation system to the grass, and the dogs wore it out.

This project uses less wood chips, but they are still using wood chips, so the complaints may very likely still occur even after spending all the reserves and then some. And that brings up another issue, the association is stating on their Facebook page that “they need help to fund and maintain a major improvement to the big dog park section.” It goes on to state the “projects cost will mostly be paid for from funds we have already raised…. but that will impact our ability to cover our regular cost like mutt mitts.”

So I am not sure this is a financially good project at this time, and don’t know why it got approved by parks and recreation, if they can’t cover the cost of regular maintenance, which is in the agreement with the city.

In the Nov. 22 letter to park and recreation, the association says, “minimal water usage increase” and they will wash it down “quarterly or less frequently in order to further insure there is no residual odor.”

I have talked to some local kennels that use artificial grass, and they wash their turf down every week. I went by one just today and could smell some urine odor, yet I was informed they clean it every Sunday. So if it gets to the point of needing to rinse down 5,400 square feet of artificial grass every week, it will be more than minimal, and we are in a drought. I also want to know what chemicals they will use to wash this product down with.

Then according to the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers, it is recommended to “shade the areas because the high heat of your climate creates higher temperatures on the artificial turf surface.”

So during the summer and heat waves this could become very hot on animals feet. And since dogs perspire through their feet it could cause dehydration. The grass installer’s group also recommends it is rinsed weekly. That is one other area of concern I have pointed out to the board, we need more trees to shade our dogs during hot weather, with or without the turf being installed.

One of the kennels I visited also had concerns about dogs digging at the material and causing it to separate at the seams. So who is going to do the proper maintenance on the turf?

There is also health risk with this product and according to the Center of environmental health out of Oakland, under prop 65 the association would need to post signs of cancer risk because of the use of petroleum products in the grass. There is also the concern for bacteria that can survive 90 days on this material and during wetter months algae and moss growth can cause issues. I would like time to do more research on these issues prior to the installation.

I have been able to delay this project. Nevertheless, it will presented to the Arroyo Grande City Council Jan. 13 at 6:00 p.m. at 215 East Branch Street. So I urge pet owners who use the dog park to please attend the meeting.

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What’s Mayor Hill say,

Call Tony I hear he & Caren Ray , do not have much to do these Days .. Call them I’m sure they would help!


Who’s up for starting a cat park? Cats in this county have been ignored for too long.


Cats need action too!


“Dog Park”

It’s amazing to learn what people think is important and a little scary too!


How is a dog park less important than an athletic field? Personal preference? If you want to argue against the concept of public parks in general, go for it. But don’t let your personal biases make you into a selfish prig who only wants parks that benefit your interests.


I agree. If Fido doesn’t get proper recreation and socialization, he’s never going to assimilate, and may one day end up in the SLO County Jail, where there are more deaths per day than the SLO County Animal Shelter.


uh, dogs rule.


Owning dogs in a cramped area with no backyard is cruel. Move to a place with a yard, or don’t get a dog. You shouldn’t need a park at all. Wolves don’t need parks.


I agree with you slop…now look out here come the dog park lovers…lol


Thanks, rambuttkiss. Dog owners are the scariest, most dangerous special interest group on the central coast – they’re worse than Scientologists. Do not cross them – publicly at least.


The Elm Street Dog Park once had a beautiful natural grass surface.

Then one day a city worker cut it so short it died.

I was there and never have I seen grass cut so short.

Bring back REAL grass.

Probably would need the same amount of watering as the artificial stuff.

It was there before and it can be there again.



Dogs are not the only beings that play in that dog park.

I have seen many small children sitting and crawling in the dog park.

A major bacterial concern if artificial turf is not ‘sanitized’ on a regular basis.


Even with natural grass, allowing small children to sit and crawl in an area heavily used by dogs is asking for infections. It is a shame that it is necessary but to keep stupid parents from endangering their own kids, maybe small children should be banned from the dog park or provided a safe place to play within it.


Another pressing “White People’s Problem” (“SLO County Problem” – same thing).


on my arrival to the dog park one week after installation of artificial turf…..OMG! WTH? WTF! THE SMELL!

This is a no brainer no go…..comon use some common sense.



When a dog goes # 1 does it puddle on the nylon grass or seep through into the soil ?


My guess would be, at first it puddles, and then ultimately it seeps through.

In order to minimize the smell though, the turf does need to be watered to “flush” the urine through the turf and into the soil.

So, artificial grass (used by dogs) does need to be watered, just as natural grass does.


Question: When a tree falls in the dog park, does one hand hear itself clapping? Or does a dog pee in the woods?


Some general responses to the questions Patty has:

Dogs using a lawn as frequently as the dog park is used will wear it out whether properly irrigated or not. The only maintenance solution practical would be to divide the park in thirds and keep one third fenced off for reinstalling turf with the other sections being rotated every 4-6 weeks.

Lawns should be watered at 2-3 times a week (minimum) to enhance survival under these conditions. Would the water use be greater than washing off artificial turf once a week? (A good question.)

Artificial lawns of high quality and properly installed are pretty durable and resistant to the problem of seam separation you are concerned about. (An area left as bare dirt or natural grass might encourage dogs that dig to do it elsewhere too.) The key is to specify quality in getting bids so that you don’t get cheap material and/or failure to properly prepare the surface on which it sets and/or other installation shortcuts. I would suggest getting bids from professionals who work with school grounds.

The “heat issue” would rarely occur at the Elm Park Dog Park. North of Cuesta Grade it would definitely be a concern. There are schools in South County that have artificial grass sections and, to my knowledge, they haven’t had issues — and probably wouldn’t when temperatures are 90 or lower. Shade trees would probably eliminate the issue completely.

I am not sure what cleaning chemicals the manufacturers recommend but I have heard of Simple Green, other citrus-based cleaners and Hydrogen Peroxide being used. I would bet that none would be toxic if lightly rinsed off after cleaning.

Finally, the dog park is NOT on the AG City Council Agenda for Jan. 13 according to Mayor Hill (heard on the Congalton Show today.)