Dog lovers oppose LA’s plan for a $58 million bike path in the Sepulveda Basin

ENCINO, CA-OCTOBER 26, 2023: Robert Servisi of Reseda shakes hands with his dog Mowgli, a 5-year-old German Shepherd/mix during a visit to the Sepulveda Basin Off Leash Dog Park in Encino.  He and others who frequent the popular dog park are fighting plans for a bike path along the Los Angeles River, seen in the background, which they say would cut through the dog park.  (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Dog lovers oppose LA’s plan for a $58 million bike path in the Sepulveda Basin

Transportation, LA Politics, Animals and Pets

Dakota Smith

November 6, 2023

Not much is changing at the Sepulveda Basin off-leash dog park.

The same

families and

seniors and apartment residents arrive every morning or evening. A group of schnauzer owners dress up their dogs every year for Halloween. The parking lot is regularly full on weekends, which is where dog owners come from


far away from Santa Clarita.

Now a planned bike path is sending the dog community into an uproar.

City engineers are finalizing the design

s plan

for a three-mile bike path along the LA River in the Sepulveda Basin. The track would take a bit of the road


16-acre dog park, according to city officials.

The city is also considering one

6 to 8 feet tall


the river on one side of the park

to address complaints that passing cyclists will annoy the dogs.

The dog owners want the cycle path to be moved to the south side of the river, where there is empty land

fields for baseball sports facilities.

More than 2,000 people signed a petition asking city councilor Imelda Padilla to change the route.

River advocates and neighborhood councils have joined in criticizing the cost and location of the $58.4 million bike path

and greenway project.

This was written by the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area Steering Committee, an environmental group that advises government agencies


week that there is “no defensible justification” for the northern route and proposed a “cost-effective” alternative that would use existing cycle lanes.

The battle is part of a larger fight over the future of the Sepulveda Basin.

City officials want that

build cycle paths

along the river in the valley before the 2028 Summer Olympics. The city

last month


has released the latest version of the catchment’s ‘Vision Plan’, a planning document that aims to transform the 2,000-hectare floodplain in 25 years.

The River Vision Plan designs around the planned bike path are also being criticized by the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area Steering Committee, which wants all concrete removed from the canal at this location.

city ​​officials said


they will continue to work on the trail design but have indicated this


they stick to the original route.

“The Bureau of Engineering has invested significant time and effort in the planning, preliminary design and design of the entire LA Riverway bike path along the LA River,” said Mary Nemick, a spokesperson for the agency.

of Technology


Nemick said 4,204 square feet of the dog park would be lost because of the bike path.

The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of the project


last year, which pleased cyclists and community leaders

want in mind

a continuous cycle path along the 51 mile long river.



The trail would use an existing maintenance road along the south side of the river from Vanalden Avenue to White Oak Avenue and then run along the north side of the river from White Oak Avenue to Balboa Boulevard, according to a city report.

The trail is then expected to continue on the south side of the river, according to a 2017 city report.

Money raised through Measure M, a voter-backed transportation initiative, and other funds will pay for the project, according to the city.

Underpasses, river parks and street improvements would also be built to increase access to the river. The plan calls for two new bridges over Caballero Creek.

Up to 63 trees could be removed for the project, while the city will add 200 trees to replace those lost, according to a 630-page report on the bike path.

The same city report stated that “the dog park and parking areas would not be altered as part of the proposed project.”

Only one person spoke about the proposed bike path at a Board of Public Works meeting last year. The proposal was never heard


a municipal council

panel committee

because it was dropped out of committee and went straight to council, where it was passed without discussion.

Padilla, who represents the area and took office in the summer, has asked the city to look at designs for the bike path along the dog park.

“Our goal is to create a fence that protects the dog park for local residents and makes the Basin a more accessible green space for Lake Balboa neighbors and all Valley residents,” Padilla said in a statement.

Miriam Preissel, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Sepulveda Basin Off-Leash Dog Park, gathered with opponents of the bike path

of the cycle path

on a recent evening. She pointed to the other side of the river.

“Put it there,” Preissel said. “Look at it!”

Preissel and others also expressed concern about homeless people setting up camps on the bike path.

Dog owner Linda Blackwell said she fears the loss of parking spaces as a result of the project.

“Where should we park?” said Blackwell. “We’ve been here all this time.”

Opponents also point to two existing bike lanes, including one on Victory Boulevard 100 yards away, as places for the new bike lane.

Nemic, the

spokesperson for the

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Engineering said it is “not practical or technically feasible” to build the bike path on the south side of the river.

It is, among other things

the bicycle lane

would encroach on the ballparks, Nemick said. There is also a lack of space on the south side, she added

Nemick said


The ballparks are overseen by Encino Franklin Fields, a nonprofit organization that leases the land from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and then leases the fields to various schools, including Harvard-Westlake.

A representative of


Encino Franklin Fields said it


group had never been approached by the city about the cycle path.

Chair of the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area Steering Committee

Melanie Winter, chair of the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area Steering Committee, said her group supports a bike path along this part of the river. But she wants the city to prepare for the floods and droughts caused by climate change. The bike path, which she called “a concrete asphalt track,” needs to be redesigned as part of an environmentally friendly plan for the area, she said.

“What we were trying to do is multi-solve, and we don’t have a lot of money and we don’t have a lot of time,” Winter said.

Michael Schneider, who advocates for bike lanes as the founder of the advocacy group Streets for All, said the naturalization of the waterway could continue even if there is a concrete bike lane.

Schneider said he doesn’t want the project to be delayed because of cost or design issues



“I just want a connected path,” Schneider said. “I don’t care which side it’s on.”


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