Council defers dog bills, again

The Kaua‘i County Council yesterday deferred three bills again that would allow leashed dogs on the coastal path, strengthen the responsibilities of pet owners and designate areas for dog parks.

The legislation, first proposed more than two months ago, will be heard by the Parks and Recreation Committee in two weeks at the Historic County Building.

In his first day back at the legislative table, interim Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro asked for the deferral to give him time to review public testimony on the controversial bills.

Although not a voting member of the committee, Kaneshiro said, “I just need more time.”

The deferral was also based on a request from interim Mayor Bill “Kaipo” Asing, who introduced the dog park bill when he was serving as council chair, for Councilman Ron Kouchi to introduce an amendment on his behalf.

The amendment would provide a section that would address how to bring dogs to a park where dogs are allowed if there is a space between that does not allow dogs.

Councilman Tim Bynum, who chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee, had set July 16 as the deadline for all amendments to the bills.

But he said he would allow till the end of yesterday for Asing’s amendment and some yet to be unveiled amendments from Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.

A vote on the bills and amendments is expected at the Aug. 6 meeting.

Several residents took advantage of the opportunity to testify on the bills — a second or third time for some.

The concerns remained consistent with past comments.

“We feel very strongly that allowing leashed dogs on the coastal path is a normal, reasonable and positive activity for this community as it is a normal, reasonable and positive activity for many, many other communities,” Laura Wiley said.

Glenn Mickens pointed at safety and liability concerns and reiterated his position that the path was built for alternative transportation.

He said allowing leashed dogs on the path would open the door for all animals to use this path.

County Parks and Recreation Director Bernard Carvalho on Monday said park rangers will continue to enforce current park ordinances regarding no animals in county parks.

“If any changes are made to the ordinance, we’ll look at what we need to do to enforce it and regulate it,” he said.

The Department of Parks and Recreation’s advisory committee — which is composed of community members ranging from police officers to youth organizations — voted at its April 1 meeting that it supports no dogs on the multi-use path.

Meanwhile, other polls both scientific and informal have shown a different consensus among residents.

“We hear the cries from both sides of the issue,” Councilman Mel Rapozo said.

A Ward Research phone survey of 350 residents showed that 71 percent of respondents support allowing leashed dogs on the coastal path.

Rapozo’s online poll on his Web site closed with 266 votes. Seventy-five percent answered yes to the question: “Considering the increased liability and maintenance costs, do you support animals on the bike/pedestrian path?”

“I don’t think there’s a majority on either side,” Iseri-Carvalho said. “It’s difficult to determine the pulse of the community.”

There was one Kaua‘i Police Department citation issued for a dangerous dog on the bike path in 2008, according to county statistics yesterday.

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