News / AUDIO

Over Half Of $65k Taxpayer Dollars For Proposed Privately-Pursued El Dorado Dog Park Are From Public Works, NOT From Oil Revenue

Councilman O'Donnell says no city funds will be spent unless/until Friends of El Dorado Dog Park raises unspecified amount privately by deadline; HEAR extended audio of colloquy between O'Donnell, advocates pro/con on proposed dog park


(Aug. 16, 2012) -- During yesterday's (Aug. 15) meeting of the City Council's Budget Oversight Committee (DeLong, O'Donnell, Lowenthal), it was revealed that over half of $65,000 in City Hall's current budget, revealed in July to be allocated to a proposed privately pursued dog park in El Dorado Park, isn't allocated from FY12 uplands oil funds but from a City Hall Public Works budget.

The revelation came during an agendized item updating uses for one-time uplands oil funds, which indicates that $33,700 has been "programmed from the discretionary supplemental funding for infrastructure needs." That sum is in addition to $31,300 allocated (at the request of Councilman O'Donnell) from his share of uplands oil revenue (Council vote in Oct. 2011, allocated each Councilmember $500,000 for infrastructure items of his/her choosing). The $65,000 total sum was first reported in July by, but with somewhat different language describing the $33,700 amout). publisher Bill Pearl, who was present in the Council Chamber to webcast the meeting LIVE, came to the podium and asked for the source of the "discretionary supplemental funding for infrastructure needs."

LB Financial Management Director John Gross indicated that it's in "This is money in the Public Works budget for infrastructure." Budget Oversight Committee chair then followed-up, "Oh, the City Manager's infrastructure?" to which Financial Management Dir. Gross replied "Yes."

No Committee member inquired how Councilman O'Donnell obtained the $33,700 sum from Public Works for the proposed El Dorado dog park.

The proposed El Dorado Dog Park has sparked controversy on a number of grounds; opponents note that LB already has multiple leash-free dog parks/dog zones and have also cited possible negative impacts to the Nature Center and its wildlife, and to nearby Community Gardens plus funding issues.

Two outspoken opponents of the El Dorado dog park proposal, Ann Cantrell and Diana Lejins, attended the Aug. 15 Budget Oversight Committee meeting, raised the issue. The president of Friends of El Dorado Dog Park, Mary Matthiesen, was also in the Council Chamber to respond...and did so.

Ann Cantrell & Diana Lejins (foreground) and Mary Matthiensen (across rail) await Committee start.

Ms. Cantrell asked that the Committee bring the matter to the full City Council for discussion; none of the three Committee members made a motion to do so. Councilman O'Donnell explicitly declined to remove the budgeted funding for the proposed dog park but noted that none of the FY12 money had been spent...and stated that none would be spent unless/until the 501(c)(3) non-profit Friends of El Dorado Dog Park privately raises a sum [unspecified by O'Donnell] by the two year deadline set by LB's Parks & Rec Commission in Nov. 2011 when it approved in concept a location for the El Dorado dog park subject to funding and other approval issues.

To hear testimoby/colloquy/discussion with Councilman O'Donnell, Ms. Cantrell, Ms. Lejins and others, followed by a podium statement by Mary Matthiensen, president of Friends of El Dorado Dog Park, click here..

(Photos above: Councilman O'Donnell and Ms. Cantrell engage in colloquy; Committee member Suja Lowenthal was present for most of the meeting but arrived a few minutes after it began).

As previously reported by, on November 10, 2011, LB's Parks & Recreation Commission voted 7-0 to support a Parks/Rec staff recommendation to locate a potential dog park in El Dorado Park at the former "Tree Farm" site (maintenance yard north of access road to the Animal Control facility).

Parks & Rec staff's agendizing memo said the proposed facility would be [agendizing memo text] "funded by Friends of El Dorado Dog Park" and recommended that the City Council authorize the city manager to sign necessary documents with the private group "to allow for third party development, maintenance and solicitation of funds for the proposed use for a period of three years."

Parks & Rec staff's memo recommended "a timeline of two years by which Friends must provide into an escrow account, the funds necessary to build the EDDP [El Dorado Dog Park] to specifications created by the City, as well as an amount equal to three years of maintenance costs. Pending approval of a sponsorship policy for PRM [Parks, Rec & Marine], staff recommends affirmation of the Commission's prior approval of Friends soliciting donations and sponsorships on behalf of a City-approved project."

The proposed dog park item sparked controversy pro and con, producing a room-filling public turnout (roughly 80 people at its height for the Rec Commission meeting),

Parks & Rec Commissioner Harry Saltzgaver made the motion to approve staff's recommendation "with the understanding that this continues to be a conceptual approval contingent upon funding and other required approvals."

Four days earlier, roughly 60 people (also pro and con) ignored rain and a chilly wind to hear Parks & Rec staff unveil its recommended location for the dog park during at a Sunday morning Nov. 6 outdoor on-site meeting ("Let's Meet for the Mutts") previously scheduled by Councilman Patrick O'Donnell. provides archival video of the Nov. 6 on-site meeting at which LB Parks & Rec's senior staffer Bob Livingstone described the funding and financial obligations to be undertaken by "Friends of El Dorado Dog Park" in order for the project to proceed. HIs statements were made in the presence of Councilman O'Donnell and Friends of El Dorado Dog Park president Mary Matthiensen. To launch video, click here.

Eight months earlier at the March 17, 2011 Parks & Recreation Commission meeting, minutes indicate the "total cost of the project, including fundraising and first year maintenance, is estimated at $150,000, which is not currently available through City sources...Partners of Parks and Friends [of El Dorado Dog Park] have agreed to work together to obtain park construction funding through donations and sponsorships." Parks & Rec. Director George Chapjian said the Department was [quoting minutes] "in cutback mode and cannot take on more cost."


See VIDEO of our dog -- before and after -- wash & trim at Wags to Whiskers (LaunderPet)

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