Silver Lake dogs wait for their day in the shade

Sunbaked Silver Lake Dog Park/Photos Courtesy Jen Byrne

Example of shade structures

On a hot, sunny day, the dusty Silver Lake Dog Park can seem more like a desert than an oasis for dogs and their owners. Three small structures made from thin metal posts and wood fail to provide much shelter, with many dogs slamming into the hard-to-see supports. “Mars looks like it has more shade than this place,” said Jen Byrne of the Silver Lake Dog Park Assoc. The need for more shade at the dog park prompted Byrne to seek help from the Recreation and Parks Department last year. Department officials agreed that more shade was needed. But providing shelter from the sun for Silver Lake dogs and residents has proven a bit more complicated than expected.

Recreation and Parks passed on Byrne’s idea to install canvas sails from existing fence posts.  Instead, the department proposed using Quimby funds, which are generated by nearby development to pay for park improvements, to build a trio of metal and canvas “shade structures” across the dog park.

The new canopies would be supported by fewer posts (two instead of four) compared to existing shelters,  which reduces the risk of dogs and people running into the columns.  One of the new structures, covering about 20 square-feet,  would be installed in the portion of the dog park reserved for small animals. The remaining two structures, including an extra large shelter, would rise from the main portion of the dog park.

“This, along with getting the DWP building that sits on the corner of the small dog painted,  will finally start making the dog park look like a place that people would respect and enjoy,” Byrne said.

But the project involves building more than the shade structures.  Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, a pathway would have to be built from the entrance gate to the shade structures. “Therefore, that entrance will need to be redone to allow for wheelchair access (the step will have to be removed),” Byrne said via email

Then, after building permits were pulled for the shade structures, Recreation and Parks officials discovered the Silver Lake Dog Park was not connected to the adjacent Silver Lake Recreation Center, Byrne said. Instead, the dog park’s address indicated that it was part of the Silver Lake reservoirs property, which is a city cultural historic monument. That apparently triggered the need for further city review, including a possible public hearing, Byrne said.

“They have been working diligently to get the situation resolved,” Byrne said of city officials. “All for just three measly but much needed shade structures.”

The new shade structures were supposed to have been installed by the beginning of this summer, but, obviously, that did not happen. Still, Byrne said the additional shade and shelter will be worth the wait.

“People don’t realize that a dog park is not just for dogs,” Byrne said via email. “Stakeholders (ie: voters) and neighbors spend a lot of time there. I know people who have formed friendships, met their current spouses, gotten work – all from the dog park.”


  1. Hope they get their shade structures.

    Now if the city could empty the trash cans more than once in a blue moon we could actually enjoy the smell of the cool air instead of dog sh**.

    Sorry if you’re eating lunch.

  2. Way to go Jen, I hope it happens soon. The park is a great place for the dogs and a great way to bring the local community together.

  3. The Silver Lake dog park is so disgusting it is not even fit for a dog. I do not take my dogs there but would love to in the future.

  4. What about just planting some shade trees?

  5. Great news and a welcome addition to a real neighborhood gathering place. But like Nick I wish we could find some way to mitigate the smell from the trash cans. Maybe a dog refreshment center where the trash cans are also shaded along with a nicer watering area for the dogs for which the shade could help keep their water cool as well would help (maybe even some sort of doggie plunge pool)? Anyway, like many good things the dog park is always a work-in-progress and kudos to those who keep working on it.

  6. Great work, Jen. It’s true the dog park is for people too, and it’s also true that the place needs some help. In addition to shade, we could use some pooper scoopers, but people need to pitch in and pick up too! If we would all pick up a little extra each time we’re there, maybe we could get the situation under control.

  7. Another example of snail paced governmental agencies at work! Imagine the man hours and tax payer dollars it has taken for this to go around and around?!! Jen, your original idea of having sails for shade at the park sounded great and would’ve been visually pleasing instead of hard ugly metal structures that provide little to no shade! While the public hearing is “in the works” (ie; ions later), couldnt the park just provide a few 10×10 pop up tents so that there could be some relief from the heat for dogs and dog owners??

  8. It’s not the trash cans that stink up the area, it’s the un-scooped poop, plain and simple. Whenever we visit the dog park we clean up after our dog and anything else left in the nearby area. We also encourage others to do so, though many people choose to bring in their dogs and abuse the park by not cleaning up after them and scoffing at the idea that they should clean up the park. These are also very likely the same people who flip out if your dog decides to squat in their front yard, even while you clean up after your dog.

    As a long time supporter of SLDP and (personal differences aside) Jen’s dedicated tenacious campaigning for ongoing maintenance and improvements, this is a welcome addition to the park. Pasadena’s dog park has a similar shade structure, so this should offer some much needed relief. It may also seem that it’s taking a long time, but at least the city is keeping up with project and letting Jen know where things stand. That’s more than has been done in the past, as I’m sure Jen can attest to, so we can take that as a small victory.

    We tried bringing some pop-up tents to both Silverlake and to Griffith Park dog park and in both cases we were told they had to be removed or face a fine, even though in both cases people had been using them in other parts of the parks. Good idea, but do so at your own risk.

  9. JH McMath: If you noticed, we have planted 20 new trees around the dog park in the past 2 years. Trees need to be planted about 20 feet apart, per the City. So that doesn’t allow for many trees to go in. The trees were all paid for by the SL Neighborhood Council, me and Silver Lake Wine and the City planted them. But as we know, trees take a loooong time to grow and actually offer decent shade. These structures will offer some good shade as soon as they are installed.
    Gina Acuna: Popup tents were tried years ago. Funny thing about popup tents…they tend to take flight with the slightest breeze. And I’ve never found enough willing parties to be responsible each day to put them up or take them down, which is what the City would now require. Additionally, they would have to be tied down, and I’ve seen dogs running full speed and not looking out slam into things, and get caught in ropes etc. Popup tents would just be one huge liability for the City which would probably lead to lawsuits and the closing of the dog park.
    Jill – i have personally donated pooper scoopers to the dog park. Pet Express also purchased and donated to the dog park about 6 or 7 pooper scoopers years ago. Problem is that so many people use the park, and there are so many who use the park who don’t always respect it the way they should — so the pooper scoopers have gotten broken and trashed over the years. With the City finances they way it is now: we are pretty much on our own. So if you or anyone wants to donate some equipment, please, bring it on down !!!! A decent pooper scooper costs no more than $20.
    But it’s true that we all need to do a little bit more than our fair share, to get the SL Dog Park looking (and smelling) better.
    AND FYI — the trash is removed AT LEAST once a week (wednesdays)– if not more often.

    • Jen, you may remember that the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy also helped with the tree purchase program for the dog park. So perhaps you’d like to make a correction note about that. Thanks, from your friends at the Conservancy.

  10. If you can’t provide shade and a yard at your place of residence, you shouldn’t have a damn dog.
    Besides, dogs are for hunting and protection. Anything else is sheer frivolity.

    • You’re right, 1840 was a great time. Let me be the first to welcome you to 2012. It’s great here!

    • Who are you and what planet do you live on? Another ignorant human who would sooner kick a dog because it looked at you sideways instead of bending down and petting the most loyal creatures on earth-to feel unconditional love for 5 seconds.

  11. Classic story of the screwed up LA City bureaucracy. It never ends.

  12. Guerrilla gardeners! Just plant a couple shade trees!!!

  13. M – If you noticed, we have planted 20 new trees around the dog park in the past 2 years. Trees need to be planted about 20 feet apart, per the City. So that doesn’t allow for many trees to go in. The trees were all paid for by the SL Neighborhood Council, me and Silver Lake Wine and the City planted them. But as we know, trees take a loooong time to grow to actually offer decent shade. These structures will offer some good shade as soon as they are installed.

  14. Way to go, Jen. You are a rockstar. Thanks for being active and involved in your community. I love that park. Yeah, it’s a muddy hole sometimes, but I recognize (unlike some of you) that I am lucky enough to live near a place where I can let my dog run in the few free hours I have after work. I could complain about the issues (there indeed are a few, or I could revel in the fact that we even HAVE a dog park to go to, and acknowledge how lucky I am that I have people like Jen living in my community.

  15. The city can do things quickly when it wants too instead of grinding down volunteers with a to process like this. Maybe encuni dog park can help facilitate for SLDP. In any case this is a good time to urge city to install in-ground garbage containers that keep poop cool and odorless for weeks at a time. Already in use at San Diego beach front and Oakland dog parks. I think it is the Millenium brand can made in Vamcouver

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