Tonight, the Oakland City Council will take up the issue of a “Dog Park” at what is now called Astro Park, the popular green space bordered by Lakeshore, Mac Arthur, and Grand Avenues next to Lake Merritt and between Oakland’s Adams Point area and the China / Haddon Hill area.
To be frank and clear, that park is for kids and always has been. The people who advocate for a fenced dog park seem to value dogs over kids, and take photos of the park when it’s not being used (like the one here) – as if to imply that there’s no demand for a green space for children.
I’ve lived in Oakland for most of my life, going back to 1974. Over that time, there have been two constants: one is that the space called Astro Park has always been used by kids, and two, I’ve never seen an advocacy group for open space for kids as active and aggressive as this one for dogs.
That’s a shame. Oakland’s first priority should always be its children, yet we’ve shown little interest in having a comprehensive healthy city for our kids. Yes, we have a powerful education lobby, but that’s as much about maintaining jobs for adult teachers as it is helping kids get a good education – nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to specifically advocating for kids, Oakland has fallen short again and again.
We have to stop this.
The real answer is to make all of Lake Merritt’s existing green space available to dogs as long as they’re on a leach. That’s not unreasonable considering how crowded the Lake is. If a person wants a dog park, they should get to know neighbors who have backyards or take them up to Joaquin Miller Park, where there’s an off-leash dog area. But it is unreasonable not to be able to walk your dog on a leash along Lake Merritt.
That should change.