Thursday, September 23, 2010

Form without function

Downey Dog Park

A couple of months ago, I was excited to read that Downey was creating a dog park. This week, I stopped by the location, at Rio San Gabriel Park, to find that it is almost complete. But—it wasn't quite what I expected.

A dog park provides features that ensure the safety of both the dogs and the people outside of the dog park. Sadly, I don't think that the Downey dog park is accomplishing this.

First, every dog park I've seen has been surrounded by a 6' chain link fence. The fence around the Downey dog park is 4' high, and the chain link doesn't extend to the back side of the dog park that parallels the riverbed. In addition, the nice shiny new benches have been placed right next to the 4' fence—the perfect stepping stool for the dog who can't quite jump the fence on his own. And the low fence and lack of chain link in the back are an invitation to the many kids at the park who don't know enough to stay away from strange dogs.

Arbor Dog Park Seal BeachArbor Dog Park Seal BeachSecond, every dog park I've seen has double-gated entry and exit gates. A double set of gates, like this one at Arbor Dog Park in Seal Beach, is essential to prevent dogs from getting out of the dog park and escaping into the main part of the park.

By their very nature, dogs are excited to greet each other. Imagine several dogs waiting at the gate for the newcomer, instead of the one shown. Now imagine trying to ensure that your dog and all of these other dogs don't get out the gate while you're going in!

Sadly, I don't feel that I can take my dog to this dog park. He's a runner, and if he gets out, he'll be gone. This would be heartache for me, but even worse, it could turn into a tragedy if my dog causes an injury to someone in the park!

At a minimum, we need the following changes:
  • Double gates for all entry/exit areas.
  • Move the benches away from the 4-foot fence.
  • Put up signs warning everyone to stay back from the fence. (This is in lieu of 6-foot fences and chain link all the way around.)

If you're a Downey resident and you'd like to see these issues resolved, get involved. Contact Desi Alvarez at the Downey City Hall at 562-904-7246. According to Mr. Alvarez, part of the issue is financing. So if you're willing, let him know that you can help raise the necessary funds. Let the City know that you want a dog park that is a true value to the residents.


  1. Very interesting and informative article. I was looking forward to taking my dog Sam to the park. Now...not so much. I will be calling Mr. Alvarez. The City of Downey can well afford these inexpensive fixes. I will be having my friends with dogs make some calls. I hope they install the double fences so dogs that are "runners" can't escape easily and can enjoy the park.

  2. I don't understand why the City of Downey wouldn't do more research. I also hope they install the double fences so I can bring my dog there. I would not otherwise.

  3. The Downey Patriot has posted an article on our protest of the dog park design. See


Thanks for your comments! Due to the constant spamming, we can no longer accept anonymous comments, but we hope you'll log in and let us know what you think.