Golden Gate Dog Park Renovation Will Separate Large Dogs From Small

How do we break it to dogs that the $2.4 million upgrade to their park-within-a-park isn’t coming for another year?

With just nine dog parks west of Stanyan Street, an entire half of San Francisco is disproportionately lacking in spaces for canines to compete for the most slobber-coated tennis ball.

Although the Recreation and Parks Department has four designated dog play areas in Golden Gate Park, one sole “dog-training area” rests on the northwest section — and it’s targeted for some major upgrades. If a multimillion-dollar dog park sounds crazy, get this: The project has secured a $2 million grant from the California Natural Resources Agency (thanks to Assemblymember Phil Ting) and Rec and Park will put in another $400,000.

With that much funding thrown into the project, it’s no surprise that dogs and their humans won’t see any changes until spring 2020 — assuming the timeline to begin the six-to-eight month renovation in 2019 falls into place.

The existing dog park is nestled between Bison Paddock and Fulton Street, near 39th Avenue. At the moment, it’s simply a place for dogs to run around in the dirt and sand, with a few benches for people to sit, a fountain, and a conveniently large parking lot accessible from the 36th Avenue park entrance.

But when the renovation wraps up, the park will have a designated small-dog play area, non-toxic synthetic turf with irrigation, three drinking fountains, and four wildlife-safe trash bins. Community feedback included requests for a double-gate area, tunnels, stepping stones, built-in hills, ramps, and hoops to make the dog play more dynamic, but these additions have not yet been folded into the public proposals.

Project managers debuted two design finalists at the second community workshop in July. In addition to the aforementioned changes, both include natural paving surface, tree planters, and play equipment.

What distinguishes them is that the first proposed design has a long, somewhat narrow section for the small-dog play area, separated from a diamond-shaped large-dog play area with a natural paving surface. Both play areas have a synthetic turf section toward the west side of the dog park with a line of trees and gate in between.

The second proposed design slightly compacts the section for small dogs, who would have nearly half of their area be synthetic turf rather than mostly sand. Instead, synthetic turf would line the southern section of the large dog area, which would have even more space than in the first proposal.

The renovation is still one year away, but it’s never too early to begin thinking about alternative play areas, like the existing ones at the very northeast corner of Golden Gate Park or at Martin Luther King Jr Drive and Sunset Boulevard.

We don’t want to see another baby bison spooked to death by a dog burrowing its way into the paddock, as happened in 2013, so keep those off-leash dogs far away from their usual stomping grounds during the renovation.

Read more from SF Weekly‘s Golden Gate Park issue:

Golden Gate Park: You Can Lead a Horticulture
A wilderness transformed into lungs for the 19th-century San Francisco.

Frog Invasion!
Keeping certain species out of Golden Gate Park is a decades-old battle.

Sharon Meadow Has Been Renamed Robin Williams Meadow
Comics and goodnatured city dignitaries gathered in Golden Gate Park on Friday to mutilate some Robin Williams jokes in honor of the late comedian.

Volunteering at the National AIDS Memorial Grove
Redwoods are inherently contemplative, bringing new perspective on an epidemic that is passing into history.

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