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Dogs on trails

Original post made by David Boyce, Almanac staff writer, on Dec 14, 2006

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?

Comments (3)

Posted by Sheldon Breiner
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Dec 14, 2006 at 1:26 pm

Dogs on the PV Ranch trails is certainly divisive.
I have run and walked on these trails as much as any resident of the Town for over 30 years and even helped to build Toyon trail. On these jaunts, I have never been bothered in any way by dogs, whether on or off leash. Though I sometimes wish a few of the people were on a leash -- a 6-month leash with no option for renewal.

Okay, getting serious for a moment. Of greater importance to many is the impact of domesticated animals on a 'Nature Preserve' and what it does to the pristine flora and fauna of these wildlands. I cannot see the harm a leashed dog does to these lands which, after all, are already violated by hundreds of people, myself included, trampling what used to be true wildlands before we invaded it 30 years ago.

I think walking the trails, walking with dogs on leash and generally taking it all in bring countless hours of joy to many and no significant harm [that I have noticed] to almost anyone or to the natural environment. I am not, myself, a dog owner. I savor the open spaces and love to share them with all, regardless how many legs they might have.

I encourage both the Town and PV Ranch officials to find a satisfactory compromise that allows the trails to be used as they have been for all these three decades

Posted by Marilyn Walter
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Dec 14, 2006 at 5:38 pm

Your posting is incorrect; Coalmine, Arroyo, Old Spanish and Toyon trails are not owned by Ranch residents, these are trail easements granted to the Town of Portola Valley that pass through private land owned by the residents of Portola Valley Ranch

Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jan 24, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Mountain Bikes are way worse than dogs - I'd have dogs on any trail in Portola Valley - but not bikes.

The trail alongside Alpine Rd - between Portola Valley Ranch and Los Trancos Road is great for horses - but I'd be spooked let alone a horse by what I saw last Sunday. A guy with 3 other guys behind him going down the trail on Mountain Bikes - why couldn't they use the bike lane - I know they were enjoying bouncing up and down.

If bikes and horses must share the same trails then have them at separate times of day - horses in the morning - bikes afternoon.

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