Wednesday, October 29, 2008

process questions

people are passionate about their dogs. that's part of what makes this issue difficult to navigate. that and the fact that we have had our dogs off leash in the foothills for 10 years with little or no enforcement of the rules. it seems unreasonable to make drastic changes when the first time many people realized that there was a problem was last March.

there have been periodic articles in the paper about poop, but there has not been much communication about other issues- like trail etiquette. i am glad that this happened, because it allowed dog owners to get organized and to become better citizens.

i have been to most of the fcac meetings this summer and have heard some thoughtful discussions on the issue. committee members do bring up comments made to them by citizens, and have discussed Boise Trail DOG's input as well.

that being said, better communication and more transparency in the process would help considerably.

the process is confusing.

i am still not entirely clear on the priority of issues the working group was tasked to solve.

i heard chairman mcdevitt say in one of the meetings that it was primarily a public health issue which would make fecal matter (aka poop) and unruly dogs the main focus. an article on dogs and wildlife was sent out by julia grant a few weeks ago to the fcac members (she also copied me). i found the same article in march after googling dogs and wildlife. if the information is pertinent, it should have been provided to the working group (and the public) then and there should have been ongoing discussions.

we have been solving the public health issue because we understood that to be the important one. we need to have more discussion and information before addressing other, more complex issues.

the fcac said there would be more public input before they decided on a final recommendation to send to city council, but i still don't know how or when they intend to take it.

i found out yesterday that the public will be allowed to speak at next week's 7:30 am fcac meeting. i really hope that's not the full extent of public involvement planned.

i do know that many more of us are able to make it to an evening City Council meeting to provide testimony than to a meeting at 7:30 am with only a week's notice to arrange job, kids, etc.

i don't think that the confusion is the result of anyone having an agenda of trying to kick dogs off of the trails.

i do think that there are 2 fcac committee members who would probably like to see that happen, but the city employees involved in this issue are not taking sides. they are providing information as requested.

i feel like this has been poorly handled. the original off leash parks and trails process took a long time. the trails group met for over a year. there was a lot of public input, research and experts were brought in to talk to the task force. even if people didn't agree with the end solution they had input and felt comfortable that due diligence was followed.

it would alleviate a lot of uncertainty and confusion if we had a clearly defined process, both for resolving this particular issue and for addressing issues with all user groups going forward.

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