The dozens of Cupertino residents who showed up at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting to defend a tiny triangular piece of land along Mary Avenue humming with the flow of cars travelling on the other side of the sound wall on Highway 85 made their point that they want that strip of land to remain as is; they don’t want a dog park, they don’t want residential units built there.
But their voices need to be heard again by another more powerful audience: the Cupertino City Council.
The Tuesday night Planning Commission was packed with neighbors of the parcel of city land on Mary Avenue that is being considered as a dog park. All of the residents who spoke were against the dog park though the motion before the members of the Planning Commission was not purely a vote for or against a dog park, it was a vote on the zoning change and general amendment plan of that parcel’s use.
Despite numerous attempts by commission chair Marty Miller to clarify the constructs of the vote, a few in the audience remained confused as the meeting wore on and accused Miller and the commission of being misleading.
One resident who spoke before the commission later shouted from the audience in frustration.
Miller apologized though he and other city staff tried to make it clear that the Planning Commission didn’t hold the authority to approve, or disapprove a dog park, they only held the power to approve the rezoning of the parcel of land to become a recreational parcel; which they did in a 3-2 vote.
The issue now moves before the Cupertino City Council on Feb. 5 where the Council may decide to move forward with the city’s only off-leash dog park.
The Mary Avenue plot of land under consideration is bordered by the sound wall of Highway 85 on one side. It abuts Casa De Anza, a small community of townhomes on one side, and a neighborhood mixed with other multi-unit complexes and stand-alone houses both large and small on the other side of the street.
Residents young and old—and in-between—who spoke Tuesday made it clear they didn’t want the landscape of that tree-studded parcel to change at all. When Miller made it clear that the vote before the commission that night would change the zoning of the parcel from more multi-unit residences to recreational, some spoke in favor of that, but they still sounded off against a dog park.
Some said they would prefer more multi-unit homes over a dog park saying the dog park would be their least preferred use of the land. But no matter the alternative, the large group voiced loud and clear that they do not want a dog park in their neighborhood.
Their reasons against the dog park varied from not wanting to hear dogs bark to not wanting to smell dog poop to not wanting to worry about aggressive dogs coming into the area. Others worried about increased traffic in the neighborhood or losing an open space for children to play.
But the can of worms that lay open now is what to do about the lead that’s been found in the soil in the space. No matter what the outcome of the final use of the land the city will still have to contend with that.