People, Dogs and Parks Strategic Plan

Seattle Parks and Recreation is pleased to release the final draft of the People, Dogs, and Parks Plan.

Download the full People, Dogs, and Parks Plan here, or just the executive summary here.

In addition, we are excited to launch a New Off Leash Area Community Proposal Process, allowing us to work in partnership with community groups and other stakeholders to support OLA expansion at appropriate sites. To learn more about this process, download the New Off-Leash Area Preliminary Proposal document. A technical assistance workshop for organizations interested in proposing new OLAs will be held in the future.

Overview of the People, Dogs and Parks Master Plan

The City of Seattle’s 2014 Adopted Budget included a City Council Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI 69-1-B-1) regarding OLAs. Specifically, the SLI requested that SPR work in conjunction with COLA and other stakeholders to create a dog off-leash master plan. The purpose of the master plan is to identify a long-term plan for the City’s existing 14 OLAs, as well as for maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of OLA projects.

After a process of assessing our current system of OLAs, learning from the practices of other cities, and extensive public comment, we are releasing a plan that:

  • Serves as a long-term tool for use in maintaining and improving existing off-leash areas (OLAs) and in establishing new ones.
  • Makes recommendations for how to on how to spend Seattle Park District funding for improvements to existing OLAs, and defines strategies and a process for proposing and considering new OLAs.
  • Reviews and considers alternative OLA service models, and provides guidance on some important OLA challenges facing our city.
  • Establishes a new permit and certification for professional dog walkers using OLAs, to improve the user experience of OLAs.

Strategies for Adding New OLAs

Seattle Parks and Recreation is excited to engage community groups and other OLA stakeholders in the process of proposing and considering additional OLAs. Community support and ongoing community stewardship is key to the success of OLAs. Strong community involvement will ensure that we can locate, fund, and maintain OLAs that provide a benefit for OLA users and the greater community.

If you would like to help create more Off Leash Areas in Seattle, there are several ways to make your voice heard. Seattle Parks and Recreation will welcome proposals for new Off Leash Areas on City-owned land in three ways:

New OLA Community Proposal Process

The new OLA Community Proposal Process allows us to work in partnership with community groups and other stakeholders to support OLA expansion at appropriate sites.

See a quick summary of the process below. For more information, or to get started on a preliminary application, download the New OLA Community Proposal Process Preliminary Application Packet here.

  • The process requires a community group to submit a preliminary application for review. If the application meets the criteria for consideration, the community group will be invited to submit a formal proposal, providing details on the potential OLA, committing to community stewardship, and demonstrating community support.
  • From there, Seattle Parks and Recreation and the community will review the proposal in a variety of ways, including: an open public comment period; review by a New OLA Review Committee, made up of community members and experts from a variety of perspectives; consideration by the Seattle Park Board; and a final decision to be made by the Superintendent.
  • It is important to note that no proposed project is guaranteed approval, and no approved project is guaranteed funding, as our capital resources are limited. Applicants are encouraged to consider and plan for fundraising through the Major Projects Challenge Fund, the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund, or in partnership with other local non-profit organizations. Where discretionary funding is available, we will prioritize it for new OLAs in areas that are currently not well served by OLAs.

Proposal Process

Steps 1, 2, and 3 for proposing a new off-leash area

1. Preliminary application and review

A community organization wishing to propose a new OLA must first submit a preliminary application (see the following pages) and communicate with SPR staff to determine if the proposed site meets the threshold criteria for consideration. SPR will respond within 30 days. The proposed site must:

2. Formal proposal

Community organizations whose proposals have passed the preliminary review are invited to submit a full formal application. SPR staff will provide technical assistance and information resources to support applicants. To demonstrate project feasibility and community support, applicants will be asked to:

  • Describe the site and its current uses
  • Develop a site plan depicting the size and location of the proposed OLA
  • Name a specific project lead and future site Steward, and outline a stewardship plan
  • Provide demonstration of community support, including signatures of support or opposition from households (owners or renters) and businesses (property or business owner) typically within 1 block of the affected park

3. Public comment

Once an applicant completes a formal application, SPR will make it available on the web and other means for public comment. All comments received will be collated and summarized for consideration by the Review Committee.

Step 4 for covering proposal review of the off-leash area plan

4. Proposal Review

Review Committee

Within 60 days of receiving a completed proposal, SPR will convene a New OLA Review Committee to assess the proposal from a variety of perspectives. Their charge is to make a recommendation to the Park Board, based on their close review of the technical and community considerations, as to whether the proposed site is appropriate for an OLA. Membership of the committee will include:

  • One or more environmental experts to speak to water quality and habitat issues
  • A veterinarian or animal behavior expert
  • Parks landscape architect or planner
  • A dog advocate
  • A community member

The review process will include a site visit and a one-meeting discussion, supported by a decision-making rubric based on clear criteria that include:

  • Proposal viability (based on the site plan, fundraising plan, and stewardship plan)
  • Environmental impact
  • Community support (based on neighbor signatures, letters of support, and public comment)
  • Operational feasibility (based on information provided by the relevant crew chief and shops)
  • Equity (considering how well-served the area is currently by existing OLAs)*

Park Board public hearing

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners will review the proposal in a public hearing and make recommendations, as is required for all changes in park use. SPR staff will summarize and present the Review Committee’s findings and the community sentiment so far, and members of the public will be allowed to comment.

Superintendent’s decision

If the Park Board endorses the proposal, the Superintendent will review the proposal, the public comment, and the issues and opportunities identified by the Review Committee and Park Board. He or she will make a decision on the proposal—whether to approve it, deny it, or tentatively approve pending further review or process.

Steps 5, 6, and 7 of proposing a new off-leash area.

5. Approval and Funding

It is important to note that no proposed project is guaranteed approval, and no approved project is guaranteed funding, as SPR capital resources are limited. Applicants are encouraged to consider and plan for fundraising through the Major Projects Challenge Fund, the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund, or in partnership with other local non-profit organizations. Where discretionary funding is available, Parks will prioritize it for new OLAs in areas that are currently not well served by OLAs.

* We will define underserved areas through a ranking of acres per person in each City Council District.