Dog Park: Cathy Schlicht Responds

After a stir on the Patch message boards, Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht offers details of her dog park position.

The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht. Links and emboldened key phrases are added as a service to our readers.

Here is a recap of our council efforts to build a dog park:

The city’s Community Services Commission identified 12 sites for a potential dog park. After public input and much analysis by the committee, the sites were narrowed down to three locations: land near the , undeveloped land behind and behind the community center. Sharon Cody lobbied to remove the Animal Services Center site and Frank Ury lobbied to remove the Alicia Park site – so over a period of time, Oso Viejo Park was approved by the council for construction of a dog park.

The neighbors surrounding the park formed an organization, and a neighborhood attorney threatened to bring legal action against the city. Consequently, the council voted to rescind its approval of a dog park at Oso Viejo.

Now since fiscal year 2006-2007, when the above mentioned three sites were chosen, the city’s discretionary reserves have fallen from about $34 million to under $25 million as of March. The city’s latest financial report shows that the Facilities Reserve Fund is about $7.7 million below target levels and we would need to increase our reserve level up to 69 percent to cover the shortfall.

Am I opposed to a dog park? No. In fact, I supported a dog park advocate's suggestion of rotating dog parks among some of the city’s parks. Additionally, I spent many hours traveling to dog parks around the county to see what amenities they offered to its patrons. Most of the parks had separate facilities for large and small dogs, but it was the Costa Mesa dog park that offered a separate park for older and disabled dogs. With thousands of pet owners in our city I am confidant that we will eventually have a dog park. Today's economic news is very troubling. The city council just approved making cuts to our contracted landscape services. As stated last year by former councilman John Paul Ledesma, the recession is longer and deeper than anyone expected. Since that time it has gotten worse.

I invite you to attend our city budget meetings this month and lobby us to figure out a way for a win-win solution for our resident’s pets.

Shripathi Kamath June 02, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Full disclosure: I am against the dog park, but I live in a democracy and do not get everything I want. A real win-win solution for a dog park would be getting a free one. Anything else is going to displease one or both sides. Perhaps significantly. "The recession is longer and deeper than anyone expected" was true. Last year. The recession has ended, the recovery is what is slow and will be slower than most expect. The reserves are about six months of operations, so a decline today is disconcerting but no more disconcerting than if the park was built in 2006-2007. Because it would not have changed the economy. It might have cost less yesterday, and it will cost more tomorrow I do not know exactly what a dog park should cost but if the council has voted to do this, then the focus should be to ensure that the costs are monitored and controlled. I hope Ms. Schlicht joins the rest of the council to that end. The responsibilities do not go away just because the vote did not go your way. Saying that "we have always had overruns" is neglectful. Here's a chance to change it, isn't it? Yes, in a bad economy the city needs to tighten its belts, and largely they have done that. Our city council over the years have done a good job, even if there has been some extravagance here and there. Reserves often get touted as an umbrella for a rainy day. Why have one if you are never going to step out in the rain, and instead want to protect the umbrella?
Dan Avery June 02, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Perhaps Ms. Schlicht could explain why she was adamant that we should give $4.7 million dollars to the State of California if she's so concerned about 53% of the city's budget in reserves not being enough. Perhaps Ms. Schlicht would like to explain why she voted against a drinking fountain at the same meeting she stated she wanted to give $4.7 million to the state of California. Perhaps Ms. Schlicht could explain why she thought we needed to spend $385,000 to remove a council member eight months before he was up for reelection. Perhaps Ms. Schlicht would like to explain why she sponsored Measure D which would have removed property rights citizens in Mission Viejo and why that was worth $250,000 in such economic hard times. Perhaps Ms Schlicht would like to explain her lawsuit against the city which cost an additional $40,000 in economic hard times. (how many drinking fountains could we have for that $40,000? or the $250,000 or the $385,000 or the $4.7 million. Perhaps Ms. Schlicht would like to explain why she wanted her mileage reimbursed for suing the city. She claimed she sued as a citizen and not a council member. If I sue the city would I get my mileage reimbursed. I may be alone here in my thinking, but I'm thinking the city would have a lot more money without Ms Schlicht in office.
Julie Flores June 02, 2011 at 04:07 PM
So I guess we won't be meeting socially at the dog park to exchange ideas about how you and I are going to change the world? I mean, isn't that what the dog park is for? Actually, I have two dogs and I spent many days at the dog park in Laguna Niguel but its a heck of a trek for a daily run. Seeing that Mission Viejo has plenty of tennis courts I would venture to say the tennis player to dog owner ratio would be quite disproportionate. Lord knows we have enough tennis courts. Maybe if we wore short cute little white dresses at the dog park we would have fewer objections? Just a thought.
Kerry June 02, 2011 at 04:11 PM
What about the location? The letter doesn't make it clear.
Kerry June 02, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Could you convert a tennis court into a dog park? Cute white shorts optional.
Julie Flores June 02, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Fantastic idea. The fence is already there, the parking is already there.
Kerry June 02, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Dogs love tennis balls...
Shripathi Kamath June 02, 2011 at 04:27 PM
I agree that the tennis lover to dog lover ratio is tiny, but that is not the same as saying that people who do not play tennis all object to tennis courts. A lot of the tennis lovers are also dog owners. Now, that's the product of the same democracy -- this time I got what I wanted. So no, I am afraid, no exchange of ideas on world domination at the dog park. Besides, those matters of import are best suited for a place where the chances of a bare-fisted brawl are maximized. After a ritual of imbibing intoxicants, and deliberately misconstrued statements. Oh, what the heck, I'll wear my short cute little mauve dress -- anything for world domination. Or a brew with interesting company.
Julie Flores June 02, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Good times!
Julie Flores June 02, 2011 at 04:29 PM
It's win-win baby!
Julie Flores June 02, 2011 at 04:35 PM
Oh, and in case anyone doesn't know how I feel about tennis in MissionViejo I have graciously provided a link to my rant http://missionviejo.patch.com/articles/tennis-anyone-anywhere-in-mission-viejo
sharon cody June 02, 2011 at 04:37 PM
The animal shelter was not considered a good location by members of the working "dog park group" and the majority of the city council for good reason. The undeveloped property was 1/3 the size it needed to be. Located at the farthest end of the property it would have required dogs and their owners to walk from the parking lot, past the Animal Urgent Care, and past the shelter kennels. A portion of the hospital yard area would have been destroyed. The hospital opposed the location because they are crazy busy with critically injured and ill animals coming through the parking lot. Some of the ill animals have Parvo making the parking lot a good place to avoid for healthy dogs for obvious reasons. The orphaned dogs are not allowed near that area for that reason. The site near Gilleran Park for the dog park is a good one. Fund raising will be needed to assist in the cost of construction. A dog park will make a great addition to our park system. I remain grateful to all those who have served on the city council. Without them we would not have a shelter, a library, a chain of parks and sports fields, a fabulous community center and awesome recreation facilities. Some who have served have helped to create the beauty and amazing amenities that make us proud to live in MV. Others, well, not so much. Sharon Cody
Shripathi Kamath June 02, 2011 at 04:43 PM
I did read that a while back. My lower lip was bleeding as I was writhing in mock anger. A blasphemous article like that should never have seen the light of day!
Julie Flores June 02, 2011 at 04:46 PM
Ha, I was nearly thrown of the property for daring to take a photo of our public building at Felipe Tennis Center.
Peter Schelden (Editor) June 02, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Dan, thanks for commenting, but a lot of these questions are outside the scope of the letter. Let's all try to stay focused on the dog park during this discussion.
Dan Avery June 02, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Pete, as I read Ms. Schlicht's letter her only objection to the dog park was spending the money during these "hard economic times." I found that to be disingenuous given the list and sums I outlined above, and I realize most residents are completely unaware of Ms. Schlicht's actual record on financial matters because MV runs along extremely smoothly. So, in my mind, I used a door she opened to respond to her main thesis with other positions she's taken on spending money during these "hard economic times." If I misread her thesis, I do apologize.
Mike Proctor June 03, 2011 at 04:07 PM
"Costa Mesa dog park that offered a separate park for older and disabled dogs". oh Good Grief.
RJ June 05, 2011 at 05:28 AM
Love MV June 06, 2011 at 04:50 PM
This is the person who thinks it's OK, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on special elections such as recalling councilmembers she doesn't like, putting an anti-business, anti-property rights Measure D on the ballot and let's not forget the traffic circle she had studied at OSO and Marguerite which would have taken out businesses and a church. Does that sound like a councilperson who cares about this community and is looking out for your tax dollars? I'm proud to live in a community that cares about "community" and has maintained excellent reserve levels.
Mission Viejo Family December 02, 2012 at 10:04 AM
I have to completely agree with "love MV"!!!!!!! I can't believe this woman got reelected!!!!!!!! or did she?????? If so or whatever the case may be, it's time for recall this time a well earned one!!!
Dan Avery December 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Count me in Mission Viejo Family. She's a disgrace. There was nothing she wouldn't do to cling to that council seat including violating her own party's rules.


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