CB15 delaying plans for Manhattan Beach bark park, activist claims

Dog run blues: Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman wants to turn a bare-bones dog run on Oriental Boulevard into a community garden.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Manhattan Beach civic leaders have secured $500,000 to transform what they call a field of pet poop into a field of flowers, but their plans are being dogged by a neighborhood planning board, the head of the Manhattan Beach Community Group said this week.

Group president Ira Zalcman claimed that Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo was dragging her heels on a project that was already funded by Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Manhattan Beach) to turn the Manhattan Beach Dog Run into a flourishing community garden, and also build a smaller bark park in another section of the Oriental Boulevard green space.

“I don’t think Theresa wants us to go ahead,” Zalcman said, adding that Nelson left the decision to rehab or not with the board, but the group failed to vote on the issue before breaking for the summer. “If she wanted it, it would be moving already.”

The activist said he’d been getting non-stop complaints for years about the deteriorating dog run.

“Right now you just have brown dirt, urine, and [dog poop],” he said.

Scavo said a Nelson aide informed her of the available capital funds during a telephone conversation before the June meeting, but she never received an official notice from the councilman or from the city.

“We can’t take a vote on something over a telephone call,” she said. “Nobody came with a proposal saying the dog run was going to move, or the dog run was going to be taken away.”

Nelson spokesman Chaim Deutsch said the councilman’s duty ended after allocating the project funds, and now it’s up to the community to decide how it wants to spend the money.

“A community board represents the community, and when the community brings up an issue, that issue should be addressed by the community board,” said Deutsch. “Theresa doesn’t need a proposal from anyone.”
The lofty price tag ensures that both the community garden and the new bark park can be built simultaneously, added Deutsch.

“We want to make sure no dog is left behind,” he said.

Area dog owners insisted that a dog run was vital to Manhattan Beach.

“This is the one space that makes it possible to have a dog,” said Ilana Bram. “There is no way you could have one without it.”

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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