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Signal Hill to construct dog park on former RDA property

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 A conceptual design by landscape architect Urban Arena shows plans for a dog park proposed for 3100 California Ave., just north of Spring Street in Signal Hill. As designed so far, the park would include two separated play areas (one for small dogs and one for large dogs) with various surfaces and play features. A “dog lobby

A conceptual design by landscape architect Urban Arena shows plans for a dog park proposed for 3100 California Ave., just south of Spring Street in Signal Hill. As designed so far, the park would include two separated play areas (one for small dogs and one for large dogs) with various surfaces and play features. A “dog lobby” would include a dog-wash station and a gathering space with a shaded area and seating for dog owners.

Sean Belk
Staff Writer

Pooches of all sizes will be able to run freely inside a dog park that the City of Signal Hill is planning to construct on a site located near a retail shopping center, an active oil field and the 405 Freeway at 3100 California Ave., just north of Spring Street.
The City Council at its Jan. 21 meeting unanimously approved locating the dog park on a site that is surplus property once owned by the City’s former redevelopment agency (RDA) and will now be designated as public use.
City staff and a subcommittee of the Signal Hill Parks and Recreation Commission had sought a location for the past three years, reviewing a total of 18 potential sites, however none of the sites were suitable, said Pilar Alcivar-McCoy, director of the City’s community-services department. She said the sites posed a number of problems, including proximity to residents, oil operations, ownership issues and parking concerns.
The proposed property, which is currently owned by the City, acting as the RDA successor agency, however, became available since it is unfit for development, said Alcivar-McCoy, who added that the site is strategically located for a dog park. “Staff has reviewed this site and does believe that it is a suitable location,” she told the Council.
Alcivar-McCoy presented the Council with a conceptual design that was developed by Orange County landscape architect Urban Arena. As designed so far, the park would include two separate play areas, one for small dogs and one for large dogs, and other features. The surface would be made of a combination of synthetic turf, decompressed granite and bark, providing several different surfaces for all kinds of dogs, she said.
In between the two play areas would be a gathering space with shaded areas and seating for dog owners in addition to a dog-washing station, which Alcivar-McCoy said would mainly be used for the purpose of washing off dogs’ paws.
Councilmember Lori Woods said there might be problems with having the dog-washing station open 24 hours. “I have concerns all over the place about that,” she said. “We don’t want people going there with soap and having a bath with their dog.”
Signal Hill Mayor Michael Noll congratulated city staff for finding a location for the dog park, adding that it would provide a needed social gathering place for dog owners.
“I think you’ve done an excellent job,” he said. “The main thing people would like, since we have a strong leash law, is a place for their dog. It’s more of a social gathering. The dogs are out doing their thing, and people are talking, sitting on the benches and stuff. And I think this is quite unique for a location.”
Alcivar-McCoy noted that dog owners would be able to utilize the dog park, but at their own risk, since a new state law passed last year that exempts cities from being liable for any pet or human injuries at dog parks, much like skate parks.
She said the proposed site is encumbered by surface-use easements controlled by Signal Hill Petroleum, which also owns the adjacent shopping center, where there is a Dollar Tree store and, conveniently, a Petco. The location is also next to the Signal Hill Auto Center sign that displays advertisements above the 405 Freeway.
Alcivar-McCoy said there are three active oil wells on the property. However, she said the City is working with the oil operator to decorate one moving oil well to make it look like a “dog that’s drinking water.”
In addition, she said Signal Hill Petroleum drives oil-drilling rigs on the site for operation and maintenance of the wells and stores pipes and other materials on the site. The City is also using the site for a storage building for emergency preparedness.
Community-services staff in 2011 had first evaluated the possibility of using Spud Field as an intermittent dog park, however that concept was scrapped by the Parks and Recreation Commission in 2012 since commissioners felt it would be incompatible with an existing use of a sports field, Alcivar-McCoy said.
City staff estimates the preliminary cost to construct the dog park on California Avenue to be $316,450, which is being covered through the City’s park-development funds, she said. In addition to selecting the dog-park location, the Council approved initiating a general-plan amendment and zoning-ordinance amendment to re-zone the site as “public institutional” and directed staff to work with the Parks and Recreation Commission to draft a final design.

Other Council highlights:
Resident-satisfaction survey The Council filed and received the results from a resident satisfaction survey conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) as part of the City’s Strategic Plan process. The survey interviewed a random sample of 259 Signal Hill registered voters and was conducted from Nov. 18 and Dec. 8. Highlights of the survey results, included that 75 percent of residents surveyed “believe things in Signal Hill are going in the right direction,” among other statistical findings, according to a city staff report.

Civil service commission The Council voted 3—2 to appoint Paul Patterson, a 10-year Signal Hill resident and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant, to the Signal Hill Civil Service Commission. Councilmember Larry Forester and Mayor Noll voted for Larry Blunden. The Council had originally received applications from five candidates.

90th-anniversary activities The Council authorized city staff to allocate $9,000 toward activities related to Signal Hill’s 90th anniversary. Activities include a birthday celebration and open house, a city celebration picnic & carnival, “Roaring ’20s at Concerts in the Park,” a Signal Hill Chamber of Commerce mixer, an art & essay contest and an old-fashioned tree lighting.

Adjournment The meeting was adjourned in memory of former Signal Hill Councilmember and Mayor Louis Dare, who passed away on Sunday, Jan. 19, and Councilmember Forester’s stepmother, Jean Berry-Forester, who also recently passed away.

The next Signal Hill City Council is scheduled for Feb. 4 at 7pm in the Council Chamber.

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Signal Hill to construct dog park on former RDA property