Noise Ordinance and Leash Law

At tonight’s City Council meeting, they’ll be voting on a proposed city park leash law and a Downtown Mall noise ordinance. The leash law would require that dogs be kept on leashes in all city parks, though the city would look into establishing dog runs at several parks. The Downtown Mall noise ordinance is something that has been discussed for some years, though most intensely in 1998, when the Jewish Mother (a restaurant) was a little too loud for residents’ taste. Now they’re looking to limit music to 75db in the daytime and 65db at night. If you want to get your $0.02, be there by 7:30pm. Updates follow below. In a nutshell, only discussion tonight, no votes.

1:50pm Update: KevinCox points out that there will be no vote on the leash law, only on the noise ordinance. There will, however, be public comment on the leash law.

4:45pm Update: Kevin went on to check with the city, who said that, despite what the city website says, there will be no vote tonight on the noise ordinance, either. In any case, there will be discussion, so that’s something.

8 thoughts on “Noise Ordinance and Leash Law”

  1. Waldo,

    The City Council will not be voting on a leash law tonight. There will be a public hearing on action recvommended by staff. The most council will do is have a First Reading of the proposed ordinance. Ordinances are voted on when and if they have a second reading, at which time no public comment is usually allowed. I’d be surprised if they even have a first reading tonight.

    At this time the staff is recommending a city wide leash law that will apply everywhere, not just in parks. There will probably be a big crowd of both opponents and proponents of a leash law. The councilors don’t like to make enemies so they hate making controversial decisions in front of a large group of people when many are vehemently opposed to the decision. Also, I believe they will defer any action until more fenced areas have been created. I also anticipate some opposition to the suggestion by staff that a leash law be adopted that is city wide and not just restricted to parks. I may be wrong.There is strong support for a leash law on council so they may just move forward and get it done as quickly as possible. No matter what though, they aren’t voting on it tonight.

    Kevin Cox

  2. Great, a public forum where everyone can be heard:

    The proposed leash law at Riverview is in part driven by former Charlottesville Mayor, Kay Slaughter, who lives in the area.

    Slaughter was sighted at the dog park last fall dressed in her purple dress suit when a puppy reached up with her paws to give Kay some lovin’.

    I agree, it is very rare that any of us would go to enjoy the Riverview trail in our dress clothes. Actually, Slaughter was not there funnin’, but rather for business, serving her political interests while posting a campaign sign for former U.S. Senator, Chuck Robb.

    On the otherhand, Slaughter is definitely due an apology; the puppy did get dirt on her $25 suit.

    Sean Corso

  3. In regards to the leash law:

    Aren’t there greater issues to debate than whether our pets should be

    allowed to exercise and play off-leash?

    For example, Riverview Park is just that: A PARK; the very word connotes

    fun and relaxation. To impose strict rules upon pets and their owners

    is self defeating.

    If Safety is an issue: What about the rampant drunk driving that

    occurs in Charlottesville? Vandalism? When dogs are allowed to play

    off leash and to freely socialize with other dogs they become

    FRIENDLIER. The incidences of dogfights at any of the parks I’ve

    visited with my pup have been pretty much non-existent.

    Health and the Environment: So, the off-leash dogs supposedly “errode”

    the riverbank and *gasp* relieve themselves in the wooded areas surrounding

    the trail?

    What if city council wanted to make a public BEACH along

    the Rivanna? Would that be all right? The fact that the dogs run and

    frolic in the water (without making the fraction of a mess humans tend

    to make– (i.e. no picnic baskets, empty food wrappers, beer and soda

    cans, blaring music…) hardly threatens the river. I think perhaps a bigger threat to

    NATURE are the UNSIGHTLY political endorsement signs that crop up ALONG

    the Rivanna Greenbelt.

    If the leash law goes into effect, does it stop at dogs? Or, do the squirrels that play in the

    park need to be restrained as well?

  4. You know, I hadn’t really made up my mind about how I feel about this. (I’ve never owned any pets.) But you’re right — there’s got to be a park where dogs can run free. Failing to do so would just be wrong. This is addressing a non-existent problem, and, as you say, it’s a park. Let’s let people and their canine companions relax and run free, dogs included.


  5. What do you mean, “This is addressing a non-existent problem,”? For many people in the Woolen Mills neighborhood the dogs running loose and out of control at Riverview Park are a very real problem. Some of us have circulated a petition requesting a leash law for just that park. When we went door-to-door I heard a number of different complaints from many neighbors. The staff has expanded our request into a recommendation for a city wide leash law. Here are some of the problems that I am personally familiar with:

    Owners that allow their dogs to leave the park/trail and go into the neighborhood and cause problems. This is particulary serious for those who live in houses bordering the park. Many of these homeowners have generously given the City permission to put the Greenbelt Trail on their property. There was one tragic case where a large dog ran into a yard and killed a smaller dog. The smaller dogs owner heard his wife and child shouting and came outside and shot and killed the larger dog because he thought it was threatening his family. I saw a Golden Retriever leave the trail and run up a side trail. Several hours later the same dog decided that my yard was his territory and became aggresive. I chased the dog away with a nice Sycamore club.

    Owners that allow unwanted advances by dogs. Some people do not like dogs and don’t understand them and are very scared of them. They have a right to go to city parks without having dogs run up to them and jump on them, sniff them, shake their wet bodies off next to them and generally annoy them. When I used to walk on the trail with my children, dogs would run up to the smallest child, my 2 1/2 year old son, and try to check him out. They weren’t necessairly aggresive but I cannot allow a dog I don’t know to stick its face into my sons. One time a big dog did just that and then licked the boy. The owner laughed and said, “Isn’t that cute! He kissed the baby.” It’s not cute, it’s gross. When a large dog like a Rottweiller or a Boxer comes up to a small kid it’s a recipe for disaster. Imagine how you would feel if an animal that you know nothing about and is as tall as you and weighs three times as much as you and has a mouth full of big teeth decides to sniff your face. The child may react in such a way as to provoke an attack. It hasn’t happened to me and it won’t. If an owner allows their dog to get too close to my children I threaten the dog with a stick and chase it away. I don’t want trouble (really!) so like some of my neighbors I’ve reluctantly stopped going to the park.

    Owners that allow their un-leashed dogs to approach leashed dogs. When 3 or more dogs get together they have to establish a pack hierarchy. When a group of acquainted dogs who have established a ranking approach a strange dog they are going to go through an introduction ritual to determine where the newcomer fits into the group. A leashed dog is at a real disadvantage during this ranking ritual. There have been incidents in which un-leashed dogs have harrassed and attacked leashed dogs as well as un-leashed newcomers or competitiors. People have been bitten when they tried to break up fights. There are people living in the neighborhood who used to walk their leashed dogs in the park but now don’t because they feel it is too dangerous for them and their pets.

    Most of the owners are responsible and control their dogs . I know several of the people that spoke at the recent public hearing. All of these problems could be solved by the owners but they haven’t done it and some of them never will control their animals. If all the dogs were as well controlled as a few are I wouldn’t support a leash law. That isn’t going to happen so a leash law and fenced areas for dogs to run off leash are necessary.

    Kevin Cox

  6. Waldo,

    For the record I never told you that I spoke to Jeanne Cox. I did say I would try to. I did tell you that I spoke with someone in the City Attorneys office and they told me that there would not be a vote on the noise ordinance. This may seem trivial but I just want to get the record straight.

    Kevin Cox

  7. Fair ’nuff — I’ve just had to resign myself to the fact that this story is just not something that I’m going to get right. My continued apologies. :)


  8. fenced areas for dogs to run off leash are necessary

    What you said. :) I’m not opposed to a leash law, I just think that perhaps the problem has been blown out of proportion. (Things like dogs causing erosion are a little silly. :) I think that having a park (or a portion thereof) where dogs are permitted to run free is totally necessary. I think that instituting a leash law without simultaniously creating an area where dogs can run off-leash would be quite unfortunate.

    But I’ve got to say that this isn’t a topic that I can claim to know much about. :) As I said, I’m not a pet owner, I’ve never had trouble with dogs off-leash, I only go to the downtown parks, and so I have no real cause for an opinion. One thing that I can definitely say is that both sides have some right good points — I don’t view this as a lopsided argument. In any case, I’ll shut up and hope that somebody can reply to your lengthy and interesting post in a more inciteful manner. :)


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