Bainbridge Island City Council is moving forward with changes to the city’s animal ordinance, which will affect where dogs need to be leashed on the island.
The ordinance updates will require dogs to be leashed in two major business areas on the island — Winslow and Lynwood Center — and give teeth to the park district’s current leash rule.
Under the city’s current code, dogs can be off leash on city property if under voice command.
The school and park districts already have their own regulations that require dogs to be leashed on their property, except at Strawberry Hill’s off-leash dog park. Those rules are not included in the city’s current city ordinance.
Updates to the city’s animal ordinance will include that dogs must be leashed on park district land, providing penalties for violators.
Dogs owners can face up to a $300 fine for not keeping their dogs under voice control or on leash.
Dog owners who do not prevent their dogs from injuring or intimidating pedestrians or cyclists can face up to a $1,000 fine for having a dangerous animal.
The city began discussions about changing its animal ordinance months ago at the request of the park district, which has struggled with enforcing its leash rule.
One resident who spoke out against changes to the ordinance Tuesday night said the park district hasn’t enforced its own leash rule.
Terry Lande, the park district’s executive director, previously said that the park’s rule has little teeth without the backing of a city ordinance and its penalties. Violators of the leash rule can only be asked to leash their dogs or leave the park property, Lande said.
The city had previously considered requiring dogs to be leashed in city owned parks as well, but has since decided to only apply the leash regulations to park district owned parks.
Other updates to the ordinance will require dogs be leashed in the Winslow and Lynwood Center business areas. The Winslow business area will extend from the waterfront to High School Road, and fall between Madison Avenue and Ferncliff Avenue.
The city-owned Waterfront Park will be included in the Winslow business area, and dogs will have to be leashed there.
The city also is considering a trial period to specifically allow off-leash dogs at Pritchard Park, another city-owned park, during certain hours, days or in certain parts of the park.
The off-leash experiment for Pritchard Park is expected to be discussed at a later council meeting.
Eventually, the city plans to transfer nearly all of the Pritchard Park over to the park district. About half of the park is already co-owned by the city and park district, where the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is located.
The park transfer is expected to take place some time after September, said City Manageer Doug Schulze.
The city won’t make any conditional requirement in favor of off-leash dog spaces or times at the park for the transfer to take place, Tollefson said.
While leashes will be required in more areas on the island, there are no plans to change the animal control budget for enforcement or code penalties.
Updates to the city’s animal ordinance are expected to be adopted next week.