Should dogs be allowed in Bellaire parks? Councilman reopens debate on longtime ban
By Charlotte Aguilar
The Bellaire City Council will decide Monday night whether to reconsider a 13-year ban against dogs in parks by voting on an agenda item that would call a public hearing on modifying the code of ordinances.
The issue has been revived by Councilmember Roman Reed, who said recent observations have led him to believe the issue should be addressed again.
“I do not believe we are truly enforcing the ordinance as it currently is structured,” Reed told InstantNews, “and seeing responsible residents bringing their well behaved pets to Evelyn’s Park made me see that it is not all that bad as long as we have rules — on a leash, etc. — and abide by them.”
Reed cited Houston restaurants becoming “much more pet friendly than just the service dogs,” and a positive experience attending the annual Bellaire United Methodist Church Blessing of the Animals.
He first tested the waters on the NextDoor Bellaire social media site. “I posed a question of whether the no dogs in the park ordinance should be reversed, and the last time I checked it there were almost 100 replies,” said Reed. “It was fairly split, with many diverse opinions.
“I really am convinced we need to have a public hearing to get the input from the residents in a formal setting.”
Another informal NextDoor poll by a dogs-in-parks advocate drew more than 175 responses, split about 55-45 percent against changing the ordinance.
The ordinance in question is Sec. 6-43 of the city code, adopted in 2004:
“Except in Lafayette Park where posted and so designated, no dog or cat is permitted at any time within any city parks or playgrounds, whether under control of the owner or not.”
Bellaire has a designated dog park, the Officer Lucy Park, adjacent to Lafayette Park, in the southeast corner of the city, and there is a county-operated dog park on Westpark Drive, west of Newcastle Drive, just north of the Bellaire city limits.
That dogs-in-park ban had been preceded in 1997 by an ordinance that mandates pickup, removal and disposal of dog droppings “left on public property, rights-of-way, or on the property of another person without that person’s consent.”
Police Chief Byron Holloway told InstantNews that enforcement of the dogs-in-parks ordinance consists of a warning, and court officials confirmed that no citations had been issued in the past three years. The result: dogs are a common sight in city parks and have been seen regularly at the new Evelyn’s Park, where signs citing the ordinance have yet to be posted.
Should the city decide to enforce the ordinance, each violation could cost up to $500.
Also on Monday’s agenda is presentation of a proposal to tweak safe pedestrian access to Evelyn’s Park.
The agenda and background materials can be viewed at bellairetx.gov.