Dog owners and open space lovers were second in number only to lovers and haters of gas-powered leaf blowers at the Oct. 7 City Council meeting when the question of whether or not canine access could or should be allowed in the Montini Open Space Preserve.
The 98-acre, hillside parcel will revert to City of Sonoma ownership sometime next year when it passes from the control of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, which provided an $11.5 million share of the $13.9 million it took to buy the land from the Montini family.
During Open Space District ownership, a management plan was developed to guide use and long-term management of the property which had originally been intended for transfer to California State Parks.
That transfer plan dissolved along with the state’s budget plans following successive years of deficit spending in Sacramento, and the city happily stepped up to catch the ball. But because state law bans dogs from access to state park trails, the Open Space District management plan incorporated that ban in its official language.
During an unofficial conversation with Open Space District General Manager Bill Keene, City Councilmember Steve Barbose understood him to say that the district could amend the management plan to remove the ban on pets so that the city would have the subsequent freedom to make its own decision on the issue.