Update: On November 26th, 2013, the Oakland Tribune reported that the Snow Park Dog Play Area was no longer being considered for a dog park. (source: Oakland gives up on Lake Merritt dog park plan)

The Snow Park Dog Play Area is a proposed site for a dog park at Snow Park in downtown Oakland. See the Astro Dog Park Controversy for lots of background on this issue.

To be a part of the future planning process, check out some upcoming Community Design Review Meetings:

  • [Past Meeting] Wednesday, Sept 11, 2013: 4:30-7:00 Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave. Parks and Rec Advisory Committee (PRAC) (see what ODOG has to say about it)

  • [Past Meeting] Wednesday, April 10, 2013: 6:30 - 8:30pm 

    Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue Seeking community input on design elements.  General comments will be heard at a future Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission. Download flyer


The city is proposing a portion of Snow Park at 19th and Harrison as a possible location for a new dog park (instead of Lakeview/Astro). The dog area would be about half an acre, have an architectural fence and all the usual features. (Oakland Dog Owners Group)[Please note that this information is also located on the Astro Dog Park Controversy entry]

After Oakland City Council deadlocked on the controversy about the Astro Dog Park, and Mayor Jean Quan refused to break the tie, several alternative sites were looked at. The Mayor directed the Director of Park and Rec, Audree Jones-Taylor to find a suitable alternative to Astro/Lakeview Park.

In January 2012, Jones-Taylor, along with Quan, found five possible sites for a new dog park. Three were near the McElroy Fountain, one was adjacent to the entrance to Fairyland, and the last was a portion of Snow Park. Quan and Jones-Taylor gathered a group of community stakeholders to tour the five sites. Stakeholders included representatives from Fairyland, ODOG, Save Astro Park, Measure DD, St. Paul School, local environmentalists, City Council members, and local small businesses.

Of the five sites, Snow Park stood out to the group, and no one present objected. The Snow Park plan was particularly attractive because it was scheduled to be overhauled anyway as part of the overall Measure DD improvements around Lake Merritt. The existing plan for improving Snow Park included removing 20th Street and turning it into park space, linking it to the existing traffic median, improving access to the lake, refurbishing the derelict bathrooms, and adding a children's play area (see graphic below).

Graphic Showing the proposed area, space being added to the park, and adjacent buildingsAfter that meeting, Jones-Taylor and members of Quan's staff held public outreach meetings for nearby businesses and residents and distributed hundreds of flyers to adjacent buildings.

On January 28, 2013, a presentation on the Snow Park alternative was held at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue, Oakland. A large crowd came to hear the presentation. Most in the group were in favor of the proposal, while a few from the nearby Regillus Luxury Apartments, and a Senior Citizen's center down the street were against.

On Wednesday, April 10th, the city held a Community Design Review of Proposed Dog Play Area at Snow Park– at 6:30 PM (scheduled to end at 8:30 PM). Meeting notes are available here. at Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue. Per the city: "Public comment and input on the Design Components of a proposed Dog Play Area at Snow Park are sought at this community meeting. General comments will be heard at a future Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC) meeting." 

Per Jean Quan's newsletter 4/16/13: The Snow Park Dog Play Area will go through the standard City process for a changed use in a park. Public comments on overall suitability are invited at the PRAC (Parks and Rec Advisory Commission) meeting on May 8, where the Commissioners will consider whether to recommend a dog play area in Snow Park. The Parks and Rec Advisory Commission unanimously passed the motion to move forward with a dog park after hearing an informational update and seeing a presentation with a number of design options for the park. You can see a summary of what was presented and discussed in the May 8th Meeting Minutes (PDF)

PRAC Approval

Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission Meeting, Sept. 11, 2013On Sept 11, 2013 PRAC heard a motion to recommend approval of the Minor Conditional Use Permit (MCUP) to the Planning Department. Parks and Recreation staff has recommended that the proposal be approved. At the meeting, 17 speakers spoke on both sides of the issue; the majority were in favor. A handful of residents of the Regillius spoke against the proposal, mainly on the theory that they will be affected by noise and that a nearby dog park would negatively affect their property values.

Mayor Quan briefly attended the meeting to speak in favor of the dog park, saying that the city has "been unfair" to people with dogs, and that Snow Park was a great compromise in creating a safe and legal space for people to go with their dogs. Staff from the office of Council member Lynette Gibson McIlhenney also spoke in favor of the dog park, mentioning that the Council member was strongly in favor of the proposal, and that dog parks create community space, and are effective in deterring crime.

Commissioners asked questions about costs, and the city's architect estimated that it would cost somewhere near $200,000 to build (in comparison, the children's play area being built at Snow Park is estimated to cost $300,000). Most of that money would be privately raised by ODOG. Commissioners were also concerned about maintenance, and voted to include an amendment to the MCUP proposal to include a recommendation that the city enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ODOG about maintenance (ODOG has long-standing MOUs with the city for the city's other dog parks, such as in Joaquin Miller Park.) The motion to recommend the passage of the MCUP was passed by PRAC 6-1. Commission Chair Barry Miller was the lone dissenting vote, saying he'd prefer the park to remain as-is: a largely unused lawn, and he'd rather see a dog park created similarly to the new Latham Square project, where a street was reclaimed for park use.

Next Steps

Staff from the Planning Department said that the next step was that the proposal for the MCUP would now go to the Planning Department, who would write a report. There would then be a 17 day public comment period, after which Planning would administratively make a decision. Once the decision is made, there is a ten day appeal period. If appealed, it would then go to the Planning Commission, who would be the final word. It would not go to City Council, as did the Astro Park controversy.