Dog owners busted
Dogs, most longtime Sonoma residents seem to understand, are not allowed on the Plaza. Not on leashes, not on the lawns, not on the sidewalks, not anywhere, anytime, ever. It’s in a city ordinance.
But some Sonomans, and a significant number of non-Sonoman visitors, don’t understand that, or ignore the signs fairly clearly displayed at the entry points where sidewalks intersect the park.
So the city recently gave the police department directions to begin enforcing the dog ordinance a bit more aggressively than in the past. As a result, in one three-day period from Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, police wrote eight citations to people with dogs on the Plaza.
A violation is a misdemeanor but is frequently reduced to an infraction, depending on the offender’s previous record and response. That typically results in a $100 fine, but final judgment is rendered by the city prosecutor. Police have been instructed not to administer warnings, but to write tickets.
Rationale for the canine ban has to do with city liability, the frequent presence of children, the concern that dogs will inevitably despoil the Plaza lawns used for so many picnics and impromptu gatherings.
Some members of Sonoma’s significant dog-loving community have argued that responsible dog owners, with their animals properly leashed, could exercise safe and sanitary control over them on the Plaza. Others applaud the dog-free environment.
There is no indication the dog ban will be reconsidered anytime soon and, meanwhile, the police department wants you to know they will be citing you if they catch you with your dog in the Plaza.