Public Input: Moraga Unveils New Plan for Rancho Laguna Park

Town staff and Patch is looking for resident feedback on a possible solution to the burning question: How to meet the needs of everyone who uses Rancho Laguna Park?


The question of the future look and feel of unassuming little in Moraga has ascended to Topic No. 1 in town, of late, and town leaders are looking for a way around the acrimony and toward a solution that works for everyone.

If you've ever had to do that, you know how hard it can be, but that's the mission. Town staff Friday released this drawing of a possible new configuration for the park, which -- hopefully -- meets the needs of everyone who uses the space.

What they want, and what Patch will be looking for, will be constructive input on this proposal. Your comments will be reviewed here, and you may also post a response to a three-question survey posted on the town's website.


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Jennifer Koziel June 30, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I like the proposed configuration at RLP above; it seems fair. I also think Y Pinchus has a good point about using part of the Commons. Either way we would be in favor of a fenced dog area so our pooch could play & socialize any time of day (and we could be there with the rest of the family).
Eileen July 01, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Are there plans for any picnic tables or benches near the play structures? (The above drawing suggests no.) They would be a nice add, for the parents/caregivers and kids to use for rest, snacks, lunch.
2nd Generation Moraga July 01, 2012 at 01:25 AM
The plan looks like a reasonable compromise that accommodates all park users. Nearly 2 acres of fenced off-leash area is great for our 2 dogs.
Liz Faoro July 01, 2012 at 01:31 AM
The picnic tables that are currently next to the new play structure and train station will remain there. In addition, the town is proposing tables on the other side of the park, which will get both sun and shade, close to the entrance.
Sandman July 01, 2012 at 02:43 AM
That's a great idea. There's a lot of under utilized at MC, and it is more central to everyone. Some challenges would be trying to incorporate this with the Frisbee Golf folks (Boo Boo, drop the frisbee), and the people (person) who complains about the "excessive" noise pollution from the Thursday evening Summer concerts.
Jose July 01, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Sandman: These are not so much real problems...the frisbee people can be encouraged to find a real sport... OR to just throw the frisbee whereever it wants to go. Dogs shall be required to wear muzzles or trumpet mutes at all times. I like the Commons idea. Leave RLP as a natural park, as parks used to be.
Mark Johnson July 01, 2012 at 03:57 AM
The two choices on the town website are both viable. I "voted"for the leave it alone choice and would encourage all Moragans to go to the town website and weigh in. It is my opinion that the town has been drawn into a fools game with a small number of residents who have forced deliberation, litigation and pontification to the point of exhaustion. Time to make a decision and move on.
Amy Chu July 01, 2012 at 04:13 AM
I would also favor leaving the park alone. I do think an enclosed dog run would suit both people who go there to run their dogs and those who would like to use the park without being bothered by nosy dogs. I do not think the park should be used by organized sports teams as it defeats the purpose of a quiet neighborhood park.
2nd Generation Moraga July 01, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Chris, I'm surprised at your response to the town soliciting feedback. As a Moraga resident I appreciate being asked for my input, and I'm happy to give it. As I posted above - the proposed solution seems like it accommodates all users and is a reasonable compromise. I'm ready to get this plan moving, so we can utilize the dog park.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop July 01, 2012 at 06:08 AM
It occurs to me that there is an as yet unidentified type of RLP user, the power-walker/jogger. Every single day I go there ( 275-300 visits/year) there is/are single folks and groups that circle the lawn one to many times on the paved path. Most arrive on foot, then after their laps, they disappear down Camino Pablo. The obstructive nature of the 'dog gates' will certainly put a crimp in that usually unobstructed plan! I will not support another fence. The play structure area is now 'dog proof' with its new waist high barrier and yet another one will make it resemble a prison yard. "I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses And I can't look at hovels and I can't stand fences Don't fence me in" Thanks Bing!
Christina DaRodda July 01, 2012 at 02:01 PM
The petition said it all, if there are going to be any significant changes to Rancho Laguna it needs to be put on the ballot in November. This is not something that should be decided by special interests considering the high level of interest/concern. It will be expensive but I think it's the only way the Town can but this to rest and feel good about the final decision.
Kevin Grabenstatter July 01, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Conspiracy theories for the town council of little Moraga?! Fight the man! Come on people, let's get real. Looks like a great plan. Really not sure why a dog owner would be against a change that allows them to run Fido at all hours instead of the current hour limits.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop July 01, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Clarification: Said, "...one to many times..."; Meant to say: "once, sometimes many times"...
Mike Huston July 02, 2012 at 03:55 AM
The recently constructed playground at RLP is a welcome addition. It is in the spirit of a shared community resource. It also provides spatial separation providing a safe environment even during off-leash hours. If only Jay Ingram and the TC had the foresight to enclose the adjacent picnic/camping area, all our issues we would be resolved. For now we have 2-fold assurance with temporal AND spatial separation. The ONLY decision Town Counsel has is 1) rescind the ban of off-leash or 2) put to the vote. No more end arounds by the Town Manager that comes up with half-baked plans that even the TC didn't see until the night of revelation. Time to vote or give it a rest.
Jon Chambers July 02, 2012 at 04:37 AM
YP, I served on the Citizens Committee that discussed the dog park issue earlier this spring. Another committee member suggested "back forty" as an alternative to a fenced area at RLP, and I supported his suggestion. However, most Committee members felt that various issues (parking, time to develop, potential conflict with neighbors) at "back forty" prevented serious consideration of this option. In the end, the Committee wasn't even permitted to vote on "back forty". I'm glad to hear that you and others think it's a viable possibility, because if "back forty" could be developed as a dog park, there would be no need for a fence at RLP. This area is currently very lightly used, so developing "back forty" as a dog park would add to the community's recreational resources.
Scott Bowhay July 02, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Hey, wait! Why not leave RLP alone, saving a bazillion dollars, and let the high budget Eclipse Soccer outfit plant some grass in the Back 40, which they can have all day every day!
Eileen July 02, 2012 at 06:31 AM
FWIW, the folks leading the relatively new East Bay Eclipse soccer club are trying to establish a "better" model for club-level soccer in our area, namely one that emphasizes player development AND fun, without any of the "players missing practice get benched" or "parents reschedule your family vacation because of a weekend tournament" craziness that guides the better-established Lamorinda Soccer Club. I don't know if Eclipse is actively seeking use at RLP and won't comment on that. I will, however, give them the benefit of the doubt, as I think they're trying to effect change for the better for those kids in Lamorinda who enjoy playing soccer but are not yet ready to dedicate themselves ONLY to Lamorinda Soccer Club to the exclusion (and this means total exclusion) of anything else.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop July 02, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Ms. McPeake, For the sake of clarity and the removal of the doubt you seem to have regarding Eclipse's intentions re RLP, I quote from above: "We are in our first year as a new (private) soccer club in the Lamorinda area. We will be using Rancho Laguna Park this September for practices," says East Bay Eclipse Soccer Club Director Shane Carney, "I originally (wanted) to use the park all fall, but we couldn't work out a schedule where we could practice without dogs being on the field." Eclipse puts the same happy talk about 'fun for the kiddies' as they all do in their marketing material. In reality they are a feeder system into more serious levels of soccer, pure and simple. A farm club for 6 year-olds. It strikes me as extremely self-serving and has nothing to do with the TC's stated intended impromptu use of our little park.
Mike D. July 02, 2012 at 04:03 PM
My head spins with every turn in this soap opera as the right solution(IMO)to just leave the park alone seems to be harder to achieve with each scrap of food being thrown in this food fight. I have a dog and use the dog park, I have kids and they play at RLP often and I've heard many different arguments from my fellow Moragans of what the park should be....the majority of which have a common theme which is, it's a special place dont mess with it. I dont want to go there and have to pick up someone else dog poo, but I also dont want RLP turned into the JM fields where I'm picking up some kids discarded gatorade bottle, food wrapper or old sweathshirt with every visit either. The time has long passed for the town leadership to stop engaging each squeaky wheel(phony lawsuits, soocer fields, etc.) and lead. If you are unable to do so, put it to a vote and let the voters of Moraga do your job for you.
Diana Stephens July 02, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Spacial separation has been achieved since the installation of the new playground, (which is marvelous BTW). Now it's just a matter of everyone being respectful of each other in how we utilize the park. As long as dog owners follow the off-leash hours and are vigilant in cleaning up after their dogs, what is the problem? I don't see it; aside from some deferred maintenance on the part of the Town of Moraga, the park is great just the way it is.
2nd Generation Moraga July 02, 2012 at 04:45 PM
The "problem" is that SOME (not all) dog owners: A. don't follow the off-leash hours B. don't clean up C. can't or won't control their dogs I can explain to you the issue regarding off-leash dogs in the current arrangement (see my comments A and B above - and review the video clip of the "dogs gone wild" that was posted on Patch in late May / early June). Can you please explain the issue you (the collective you) have with a fenced 1.9 acre dedicated unrestricted off-leash dog area. This would allow you unrestricted access to exercise your dog off-lead, while allowing the rest of us to enjoy the park without being bothered. What is the issue??
Tony Rodriguez July 03, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Ok, here goes: there are people (I'm one of them) who think that it is great people enjoy their dogs, are willing to have off-leash use (ideally, in a separated area that is generous but not the focus of the park), and are tired of having to choose between leaving (or not going to) the park every spring and summer evening or dealing with (and I think this will ring true for many) the hindrance that comes from trying to picnic or play while others' unleashed dogs have free rein over the entire park. I would think the real question about spatial separation would be the metes and bounds, rather than whether to do it. Citing thirty years' of use ignores that the first ordinance allowing the use was just over 20 years ago, and that the hours were much more limited for over a decade. And it ignores that, like it or not, there are people who don't want RLP's "mellow hours" to be for off-leash use every day of the year. If a time sharing arrangement is all that can be tolerated, what is the objection to sharing the mellow hours? It sure seems that one group has a good time slot and will stop at almost nothing to avoid sharing it. I think the Council can and should put an end to this dramedy, and the electorate can weigh in about candidates, rather than a referendum that would yield a murky result.
Chris Nicholson July 03, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Because I rarely get to the opportunity to do so, I just wanted to say: I agree with Eileen.
2nd Generation Moraga July 03, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Because I rarely get the opportunity to do so - I just want to say that I agree with Tony and CN (who is agreeing with Eileen, who I often agree with).
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop July 03, 2012 at 03:17 AM
OK, T-Rod, here goes (got my analyst on hold for back up)...I agree with your 'mellow hours" concept (but not the naming convention!). The "Common Green" concept has you covered. I am a dog owner (that's quite a surprise) but have been bellyaching from the start about some dog owners with "Animated Accessory Syndrome". Dogs are symbols, like certain cars and maybe your butler, of attaining a certain strata of solid upper-middle class-ness. Got the pedigree, got the rhinestone lead and these things have "autopilot", right? I show up, cut the mutt loose and hope I can find him when I'm done bonding with the neighbors. "Yes, that's my Shetland Sheep-Catcher" over there...well he's around here somewhere...dumb mutt cost me a pretty penny, I'll tell you!" Those folks need to be punished. Or banned, Or both. I exaggerate, somewhat, but nothing is worse for serenity-time than a 75 pound berserk, unsocialized canine jumping in my face because he smells treats on me. SOCIALIZATION, OBEDIENCE TRAINING AND CLOSE SUPERVISION (incl. poop) are all mandatory to make this work. If you don't comply, we (responsible dog folk) must rise to the occasion and self-police the guilty party (no, not the dog). These are not bad folks, they are just not aware of how complex dog keeping gets when you traverse into scenes with other untethered dogs. There's not a lot to it, but ignorance of the fine points yanks the serenity (mellow) out of the scene like root canals sans novocaine.
Lissa Sorensen July 03, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Right. And for all the reasons Mr Stoop has mentioned we need an enclosed dog space suitable for ball throwing and play but also capable of keeping dogs not under voice control from disturbing others. And I am opposed to leasing the field out to the soccer teams. I don't think that is good for the park or for the neighborhood. Thank you.
Jon Chambers July 03, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Because I rarely get the opportunity to do so - I just want to say that I agree with Fritz's post above.
Pete McDonald July 04, 2012 at 05:50 AM
What I'd like to know is what the heck is the problem? I believe that it stems mainly from people who take their dogs to the park during illegal hours. I've driven to Rancho Laguna Park to check a number of times in the early afternoon and seen dogs running freely. The police often use the toilet facilities at Rancho Laguna, so why don't they issue a citation when they see all of these owners letting their dogs run free during illegal hours? We've taken our dog there in the legal morning hours since 1998 (and for many years before at The Commons) and have seen only a very few problems with dogs getting into a squabble, and never with a human being. All of these dog owners leave by about 9AM, and the only children that we've seen are those that come with their parent and dog. Its cold at that hour and most mothers wait until it warms up before bringing their children to the Rancho Laguna play area. I don't believe that we need a fenced in dog area, I believe that we need enforcement of the law regarding on-leash hours when children might be there.
Jon Chambers July 06, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I also agree with Lissa's comment that we need an enclosed dog space. The key decision requested by the Town (and I believe by the referendum petition) is whether or not to enclose a dog space. Some seem to want to shift the question to whether RLP should be available for soccer practice--perhaps because they are afraid of the answer to the real question. While I'm a parent of two soccer players, and believe RLP is a viable location for soccer (or lacrosse, football, rugby, ultimate frisbee, etc.) practice, I understand that not everyone wants to see sports practices at RLP. However, the practice question is relatively easy to resolve, because no fence or pathway construction is required, and no Town Ordinance is needed to set or change policy--if the Town chooses to rent the RLP field for practices, and a litter or use conflict develops, the Town can simply decide to no longer rent the field. Since rental agreements typically last for just a couple of months, policy changes can be implemented quickly. While I personally would prefer not to see any more fences at RLP, I believe the irresponsible dog owner problem Fritz accurately outlines can only adequately be addressed by a fenced solution. The Town proposal for a 1.9 acre dog park, including quite a bit of the current turf, seems reasonable, and I support it.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop July 08, 2012 at 10:37 AM
Notice, Jon, I did not mention a dog pen. Another fence, another eye sore, another maintenance issue and another waste of money in short supply!


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