Community dogs council bills

The Kaua‘i County Council is scheduled to resume its work on three proposed ordinances related to dogs, tomorrow, at the Historic County Building.

A bill that would allow leashed pets on the coastal path has generated controversy in the community. The other two bills, which would strengthen the rules regulating the responsibilities of dog owners and create new dog parks, have garnered overwhelming support.

The seven-member legislative body over the past 10 weeks has heard a plethora of comments from residents on the benefits and dangers the legislation would cultivate.

Although the vast majority of testimony on the proposal to allow leashed dogs on the path has been in support, many residents have voiced their concerns. Ben and Sheila Herr are among the minority fighting the proposed change.

In written testimony and photos submitted last week, the pair point at inadequate enforcement of existing regulations and inherent safety issues.

Enforcement now consists of “periodic checks along the path by park rangers,” according to the county Parks and Recreation Department’s most recent quarterly report to the council. The July 9 document says there were no citations issued in May or June.

County Parks Permits and Security Coordinator John Martin said yesterday that park rangers have issued three citations for dog-related crimes on the path over the past year.

The most recent was on Saturday at Kealia Beach. The other two were on Oct. 5 at Lydgate Park and March 1 in Kapa‘a.

Kaua‘i Police Department statistics were unavailable at press time.

If the council decides to move forward with the bills as expected, the Herrs say they should be further amended to allow leashed dogs only from Lihi Bridge to where the path narrows by Kawaihau Road.

But they say fenced dog parks are the “most practical and responsible solution.”

The 16-mile proposed multi-use path project is planned to run from Nawiliwili to Anahola. The completed segments include a 2.3-mile stretch from Kapa‘a to Kealia Beach and a 2.5-mile route at Lydgate Park. A stretch from Kealia Beach to Kuna Bay is expected to be completed by September.

Councilman Jay Furfaro has submitted an amendment to restrict animals south of Wailua bridge, targeting the more heavily used Lydgate Park area, and set the new law up as an 18-month trial period.

Councilman Ron Kouchi has said he will not support the bill without a sunset clause.

Other amendments are expected, but have been delayed to incorporate the legal opinions requested from the County Attorney’s Office. That advice, however, will be unavailable to the public.

Supporters of Councilman Tim Bynum’s proposed ordinances to allow leashed dogs on the path and require owners to clean up their pets’ waste have said they are taxpayers who advocated for the construction of the path with an understanding that they would be allowed to walk their furry friends on it.

They have pointed at the health benefits, national norms and the general consensus among constituents to back their beliefs. They also argue that more dog parks would be nice but not a substitute for being allowed to walk their pets on the path.

Bynum said the owners of the 20,000 reported dogs on island have a “serious responsibility.”

He recognized the concerns and fears of dogs that some residents maintain, but pointed at polls showing a majority of residents support allowing leashed dogs on the path and that it can be done safely with proper education and holding irresponsible owners accountable.

The council tomorrow will likely inaugurate a new member whose role in this public debate remains to be seen.

At 8:30 a.m., the Credentials Committee will report on whether Daryl Kaneshiro is eligible to serve on the council until Dec. 1 when newly elected members will start their terms.

Kaneshiro, a rancher and former councilman, will fill the empty seat created when Council Chair Bill “Kaipo” Asing resigned on Thursday to serve as interim mayor for the next 4.5 months.

Asing, who introduced the dog park bill, was appointed to serve as mayor after Mayor Bryan Baptiste unexpectedly died on June 22.

Prior to the council’s regularly scheduled 9 a.m. committee meeting, there will be a special reorganizational session to determine the appointment of a new chair, vice chair and members of several standing committees.

The dog bills fall under the Parks and Recreation Committee, which Bynum chairs.

Based on comments from council members last week, Furfaro is expected to be nominated as council chair.

Council Vice Chair Mel Rapozo said he was not interested in the position because he is running for mayor this fall against Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura and county Parks and Recreation Director Bernard Carvalho.

The deadline for candidates to file nominations papers for the Nov. 4 election is 4:30 p.m. today.

For more information, visit www.kauai.gov

• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or neagle@kauaipubco.com

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