A neighborhood in Buellton is making its own rules to allow dogs to roam free at the local park. But some fear the leash-less dogs could be a danger to their children. It also brings into question what authority home owners associations have over city and county law.
Mark Figueroa lives with his wife and son in the Valley Station Circle housing tract, a small neighborhood in Buellton with a home owners association. The HOA sent a notice to all homeowners recently that dogs will be allowed to go without a leash at the local neighborhood park beginning October 9th. The park does not have a fence.
Figueroa wasn’t pleased because he frequents the park with his 5-year old son.
“To have a dog park without a fence is completely ridiculous,” said Figueroa. “Anything can happen. A 3 to 5-year old is face level with some of the big dogs that are around here and all it takes is a nip.”
Leash-less dogs are not allowed in public areas in Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo counties, although each city enforces the law differently. Some law enforcement agencies will turn a blind eye to a leash-less dog if they see that it’s well behaved and not wandering off too far from the owner. Some have a zero tolerance policy.
Designated dog parks are the one exception. Local dog owners say they’re glad these even exist.
“Where else does your dog get to be a dog? There’s only a few places where she doesn’t have to be on a leash all the time,” said dog owner Aly Gleason.
While the two counties make it clear these dog parks are the only place your pup can go leash-less, nothing is mentioned in the law about parks governed by home owners associations.
Calls to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and several personal injury attorneys went unanswered. The Valley Station Circle Home Owners Association refused to answer any of our questions.
Figueroa is hoping for a compromise, perhaps installing a fence at the park to separate the dogs and children.
“I want to make sure it’s going to happen in the correct manner, in a safe manner,” said Figueroa.