Much of the time, it is cool in Portola Valley when it's hot elsewhere, but there is nothing cool about the ongoing dispute over whether dogs are to be allowed on the rural six miles of hiking trails in the Portola Valley Ranch neighborhood.
The sometimes steep and always wooded trails are part of a 36-mile system, 30 miles of which allow dogs on leashes. (Unleashed dogs are not allowed in San Mateo County.)
Since the founding of the Portola Valley Ranch subdivision, dogs have been specifically prohibited on Toyon, Coalmine, Arroyo, Bay Laurel and Old Spanish trails -- all of which are owned in common by Ranch residents. But dog owners and their dogs, saying that these are the best trails in town, use them anyway and sometimes let their dogs off their leashes.
The town's advisory Trails Committee considered the issue. While the majority voted against changing the rules, the vote was split and the committee produced reports detailing the arguments on both sides.
The Town Council has the authority to rule and recently agreed to consider the results of a community discussion to be begun in January and moderated by Councilman Steve Toben.
Should dogs be allowed on the Ranch neighborhood trails?