Public Input: Contacts, Guidelines and Hints

Just in case anyone is feeling complacent about the off-leash dog issue, consider this statement in the "Project-wide Guidelines" from the Opportunities and Constraints Analysis. This is a document produced for EBRPD by LSA Associates, an environmental consulting firm with long-standing ties to CESP.

Project-wide Guidelines
The General Plan includes guidelines for the entire Park that are relevant to Albany Beach:

OPER-5: Dog use and activity in the park project will be managed according to State Parks' guidelines in order to protect habitat values and enhance public safety. As such, dogs will not under any circumstances be permitted in management sub-zones designated as preservation areas or on any beach.

There does not appear to be an easy option for emailing new public comments on the Albany Beach project, but If you cannot attend the workshops, try the EBRPD contact page at

Chris Barton, senior planner for EBRPD environmental programs, has also indicated that comments can be emailed directly to

Park District survey Long and detailed, but slightly off target.

East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors:

Whitney Dotson
John Sutter
Carol Severin
Doug Siden
Ayn Wieskamp
Beverly Lane
Ted Radke

EBRPD General Manager
Robert E. Doyle

At the State Parks level, Louis Nastro appears to be the best email for sending public comment to the Park and Recreation Commission. However his spam filter is sensitive so you might need to open up a channel with him in advance.

A note about influencing commissions and boards: It is usually much more effective to write or email to each commissioner or board member individually, instead of the commission or board secretary. Yes, if you go through the official public input channel it will eventually appear in the meeting packet, but that might be weeks later, in small print, and buried deep among more urgent documents. Send your comments directly to each member of the committee or commission to make sure it gets their full attention. The copy that goes to the city becomes part of the official record, but the individual mailing gets far more attention.

We have a real advantage over any single commissioner in this respect. Commissioners are in flagrant violation of the Brown Act if they email the rest of their group on any substantive issue. They can only talk policy to a majority of their members in a noticed and scheduled public meeting. But we can send persuasive emails to the entire roster to our heart's content. It's a powerful weapon, and we should be using it starting now.

Public comment at public meetings at all levels of government remains one of the most effective forms of advocacy. Skill and experience at public speaking is not relevant. But it is always good to be polite, to be brief, and to get to the point quickly.

Meetings at which dog policy does NOT appear on the agenda are particularly easy to attend, because you don't have to wait for the agenda item to come around. Public comment comes first, then you can leave. Although our presence does have an effect on the nature of the discussion, so it's always good to stay in the room to the bitter end. And commissions are notorious for informally discussing things not on their agenda, especially right before adjournment when it's "nobody here but us chickens." Bring a good book.

Another great opportunity for direct lobbying, especially to EBRPD, is to sign up to go on their Board of Directors Field Trips. These are half-day or all-day affairs, about four times per year. Because a majority of the Board is travelling together and presumably discussing EBRPD business as they travel and tour various park sites, the trips have to be open to the public. The Park District provides transportation for public participants along with the Directors and staff.

The trip to the Concord Naval Weapons Station and to new properties in the Black Diamond Mines area on June 10 was a case in point: There were EBRPD Directors, staff, one person from the Regional Parks Foundation and one or two from the Citizens Advisory Committee. I was the only true freeloader with no official Park District affiliation.

It would probably not be good etiquette to engage in heavy-handed lobbying while sharing a seat in the van or having lunch with park directors or senior staff, but it is a great way to establish some rapport and discuss some of the more pressing issues informally. I'm sure the investment will pay back - and we toured some really interesting parklands, too.

Don't miss the next field trip! They are announced on the EBRPD website, and note that it's usually necessary to call in your reservation a few days in advance so they know how many seats they'll need in the van or bus.