Boats and bird watching are okay but dogs are not under L.A. River recreation rules

Dogs – even on a leash – would be banned from the L.A River Recreational Zone. Photo by D. Hibbs

A proposal to open a stretch of the L.A. River between Atwater Village to Elysian Valley to recreational uses this summer will permit everything from boating and fishing to bird watching and hiking along the riverbed. But there better not be a dog in your boat or trotting next to you on that hike because canines – along with weapons, smoking and nudity – would be banned from the riverbed.  The ban on dogs – leashed as well as unleashed – is among the rules that would be imposed on the Glendale Narrows section of the river under a three-month, pilot program that would treat the river more like a park or beach than an anything-goes, no-mans land, where currently dogs and even horses splash through the water, the homeless live on flood-prone islands and rules and enforcement are rare.

“We are trying to make it pleasurable for everyone to enjoy it,” said Lupe Velez, policy director for Councilman Ed Reyes, of the rules and regulations, which include the ban on dogs. “People don’t always control their dogs … Some people don’t pick up after their dogs. When people don’t pick up the poop, it impacts the fish in the water and impacts the birds.”

That prohibition on pooches came as a surprise to some who attended a meeting Thursday night devoted to the L.A River Recreational Zone pilot program. Dogs would still be allowed on the paths that run alongside the river but not along the concrete slopes of the river channel or on the marshy bottom. Said Silver Lake blogger and dog owner Diane Edwardson:

The only place I can escape the bikes whizzing by at high speed on the narrow & crowded path is to walk in the riverbed with my dog on a leash. But then, I also pick up after my dog.

If the pilot program is approved by the City Council and other agencies, the rules of what is allowed – non motorized boats, for instance – and isn’t allowed – bikes, dogs, booze, etc – will be posted along the river, said Velez. In addition, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority will help enforce the rules, which limits public access to the river to between sunrise and sunset.

The city is seeking public comment on the recreational zone pilot program and draft report, which will come up for review by the Ad-Hoc River Committee today.

Related Link:

  • City Council committee could vote on narrows boating, recreation on Monday. Patch


Los Angeles River RecreationAL Zone pilot program by TheEastsider


  1. It seems silly to ban responsible people from walking their dogs on a leash and picking up after them just because a few won’t abide by the rules. This is the all or nothing kind of ruling that makes no sense. Better to enforce the rules specific to leashes and poop than make this draconian blanket law.

    • martin, I hear you, but what is the solution? just a few rule breakers adds up to me seeing dog poop any time i take a walk anywhere in LA, more so in nature areas. It is also commonplace to see dogs off the leash.

      I understand your opposition to group punishment. but if not that what?

      • Why not hire a few park rangers to patrol the area and write tickets with fines to people who break the rules? The money paid for the fines would probably pay for the wages of a few rangers. I also am irritated by people who let their dogs off the leash in public places and don’t clean up after them, but as a responsible dog owner myself, I do want to be able to enjoy those areas with my buddy. The fact is, if we ban dogs entirely we’re eliminating a huge population of people who actually want to enjoy an area like this, and reducing the use which makes the whole project suffer. If nobody goes there, then there really isn’t a reason to create it. I’d rather be able to let my dog enjoy it with no rules than not be allowed to go there at all with him.

        • it would be great if responsible dog owners created a “dog owners union” and patrolled the area, shamed people who are breaking the law and picking up after those they do not catch. I think the onus should be on dog owners to self police not on the city to use valuable resources making sure people pick up after themselves.

        • I don’t know – the ranger position would have to be at least the equivalent of one full time job, which probably gets close to $100,000 once you count benefits. If the ticket fine is $100, then that means they have to write at least three tickets every single day, or more likely, 10 tickets every weekend day, which seems unlikely.

      • I strongly agree with the decision to keep dogs out. It’s all fine & good to say that we just need to enforce leash laws, but without money (and/or a police priority vs. more impt. problems), many dogs will be off leash — which inevitably means pooping in the water. Elysian Park requires dogs to be on leash, but 50% aren’t, with predictable, gross results. (Eastsider ran a piece a year-plus ago on a v. rare enforcement day in the park, but I’m there every day, and have still to witness any shred of enforcement.)

        Even for the responsible 50% of dog owners like Ms. Edwardson (whose blog I like), one can’t always simply pick up after one’s dog — some will sometimes stay behind on the concrete which, because it slopes down to a waterway, means fecal content will still enter the waterway & the ocean, from responsible owners’ dogs too.

  2. This is absolutely ridiculous. The whole reason i moved to the area is because its a dog friendly river community. Im appaled.

  3. Hmm. I’m dubious about their reasoning. I can’t imagine dog waste being as big a factor in water quality as many of the other issues with the river, most notably run off from our urban lives.

    Let dogs and their owners enjoy the space together. If we can handle it in other parks, why not this one?

  4. The LA River is a sewer.

  5. And the people that live on the river, who picks up the poops that they leave?

  6. It’s irresponsible dog owners that ruin it for everyone, certain that’s why they have the ban.

    People that live at the river bank don’t clean up after themselves. I do the LA River Clean up and it’s clear they just toss trash to the river-

  7. Banning dogs is ridiculous. This city has a history of making it impossible to enjoy life with your dog. This goes right along with not allowing alcohol on the beach. Are we going to make it so the many responsible people in this world can’t relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Los Angeles with their best friend, or while having a drink just because there are others out there who are irresponsible?!

    Where is everyone’s sense of freedom for all?! I understand that people don’t like cleaning up after those who can’t be responsible, but we shouldn’t let that push us to create a completely sterile world. How boring would life be if we stopped allowing takeout food because the wrappers and cups get thrown on the street by some irresponsible people, or what if we stopped selling paint entirely because someone might take some and paint on the side of a building, or stopped selling paper and glue because people might post up some other type of street art?! While we’re at it, why don’t we ban cars since we know they pollute and the exhaust is killing us all?!?!

    I could go on for days about other things that bother certain people in this city, yet to a lot of other people those things are beneficial, or good for their business. When people look at life through the eyes of others maybe we can regain some culture in this city rather than banning everything we think might annoy us slightly.

    We’re not puritans people, we’re a city of diverse cultures and people, and everyone should have an opportunity to enjoy it together with a responsible attitude.

  8. Wow, for the brief period of time I called Frogtown my home I adored it – with the exception of the many off leash dogs, indignant owners of said off leash dogs and poop to go along with it.

    My wish then and my vote now is to enforce existing laws – leash laws, pick-up-after-your-dog laws. Post signs along the entire trail (so people are warned) and then ENFORCE. I’m sure there is some revenue for the city to be had and if there is a plan to enforce the recreation project area then this should be started as a trickle down effect by enforcing what we essentially already have in place.

    I still visit the river with my dog (oh, surprise, I have a dog!) I always pick up after her and in the event someone else didn’t after their canine, if it’s there, hey, I pay it forward & pick that up too.

    I will say this, if it comes down to a blanket enforcement of no dogs leashed or otherwise in the rec area, I sure hope there’s a plan to make the walking part of the bike trail amenable to those who do enjoy it with leashed pets.

  9. This seems kind of crazy. We’re talking about a sloped concrete channel. And they’re really going to enforce keeping people out between sunset and sunrise?! Talk about overkill.

  10. As a responsible dog owner (ie respects leash rules and picks up after my dog), this really ticks me off. People should be able to enjoy the river with their dog. LA has some pretty screwed up rules around dogs compared to other parts of Cali and the country.

    I also support much much stronger enforcement of leash rules. My dog is small and there’s nothing worse than having him be attacked by some idiot’s offleash dog and then get yelled at when I have to kick or shove that dog away. I don’t go to Elysian anymore because of this. There are plenty of off leash parks – freakin use them.

  11. This is so dumb. The ‘river’ really is pollution, all runoff from various nasty homes and factories that line it.

    And if animal waste is truly fouling up this pristine water source, are we going to cover it so that birds cannot poop in it, and fence it off so that coyotes and rabbits don’t poop there?

    Illegal immigrants can drive cars with impunity in this city and I can’t take my dog to the park, that OUR taxes paid for. This city is madness.

  12. I thought the issue with off-leash dogs around water is more about disturbance of bird habitat than dog waste.

  13. Foragers such as coyotes, raccoons and homeless currently live among the bird population in the LA River. It is not a pristine mountain stream. The bed of the river is full of styrofoam, plastic bags and shopping carts after each heavy rain. The ban on dogs for any reason is ridiculous. Having dogs on leash seems a fine compromise for those anti-social bird people. I am curious as to why is no one complaining about the two million dollars that is coming out of HUD funds to pay for signage that will be stating all these rules?

    • Thanks EP4 ME,

      well stated…….storm and stream runoff is just that……People essentially are always the problem.. Leash us up. ban us, for crikey sake, let the dogs and coyotes roam….they will anyway.

      the river will be better for it….

      Like any River expedition take your antibiotics, rinse in betadyne, and don’t drink the Agua!!!!


  14. Isn’t it possible that dogs frolicking in and around the water will scare off wildlife? That’s a thought….

    • The pups’ feet can get cut by all the broken bottles. Then gross amoebas could enter their blood streams. I think they are doing the dogs a favor by not allowing their careless owners to subject them to such a biohazard!!!

  15. Allow dogs if they wear diapers.
    Lots of dog lovers like to think of their dogs as people and similar to children, unless they have children and then they know the difference. Why not have them wear diapers like most 2 year olds?
    Or is it OK if my 2 year old runs around naked pooping and peeing where she pleases? At least she does not bite . . .

  16. What’s with all the whining? You want your boats, kayaking and your “economic development opportunity” for the city, then you gotta roll with the sleazy city council. You have no say in this development opportunity because in the end, it’s not for you.

  17. “People that live at the river bank don’t clean up after themselves. I do the LA River Clean up and it’s clear they just toss trash to the river-”

    “We really must do something about these disgusting river people. They’re like animals. I can’t wait until the city cleans our kayaking river of this trash. There’s some real progressives ready to restore and use it the way it should be used.”

  18. ” When people don’t pick up the poop, it impacts the fish in the water and impacts the birds…”
    Are you kidding me!!! Really??? The Los Angeles Storm Basin Design dumps everything from car oils from passing vehicles to dog feces to human feces to you name. The last thing any one would want is to boat in the LA river. When there is a storm in the LA area, all that run off ends up in Long Beach, and there afterwards they close the beach due to “High Concentration” of bacteria! EEWWWWW!!!!! I could see it now, kids wading in unknown fluid teeming with bacteria, cuz it aint H2O

  19. I live in Atwater (4.5yrs) with my dog. I rarely go down to the river with my dog because the rover is so dirty and smells bad. That being said, the only people I ever see down by the river are people with dogs. And if we are worried about fecal matter, well nothing is more gross than all the bird crap from ducks and geese. It’s foul.

    I do agree we as dog owner’s need to be responislbe. I will re-double my efforts to pick up after my dog and shame those who don’t.

  20. What happens in Elysian Park is a perfect example of what will happen here. Elysian Park requires dogs to be on leash, but there are so many dog owners who seem to believe they are above the law and disregard it. I always walk my dogs on leash, it’s a no brainer and it’s the right thing to do. This will be no different. Some dog owners just think they are above the law/rules.

    It would be fantastic if they had rangers out there, I don’t think they would have any trouble making the revenue for their jobs, 2 – 3 tickets a day would be easy, they could do 10x that in one morning in Elysian Park.

  21. Let us put rules and stipulations on everybody, and make us all happy…”That way we can try to please all of you whiners!” Just close the damn river, cry babies…You guys complain to much, to appreciate a good thing anyways…

  22. I have lived in Atwater for 4 years and walk my dog down at the river a few times a week. Yes, I let her off her leash down at the water so she can romp in the water if she wants. Most other dog owners do the same and our dogs have a great time. The only other people down there are the few fishermen who regularly set up at a slow moving portion of the river. In 4 years I’ve never had a bad experience with another dog or an owner. The river area is not a cesspit of dog poop, rather the human trash is by far the main issue.

    It really bothers me that I never saw one single posting about this issue at the river. I regularly use 3 different entrances to the river and there have been zero postings about this. I’m sure that was by design as they knew that if they invited the people who currently make use of the river they would face opposition.

  23. Hello everyone, I’m Alex, I been living in the elysian valley / Atwater village for almost 20 years, I used to walk with my dog, most of the time on leash,I am a very responsible dog owner, animal lover, vegan, nature lover and respect very much about everything. can tell you that dogs are not a problem, the real problem is people and their stupid laws, we don’t need more ranger ( haven’t see one in the last 3 months), or police or more stupid laws, what we really need is to use our common sense and be RESPONSIBLE AND CARE ABOUT OUR ENVIRONMENT AND WILD LIFE ! now I’m holding a protest against the pilot, that irresponsibly, are allowing people to enter the river to fish and practice kayaking, regardless of the ecological problems that this practice can bring. the los angeles river is a very delicate and fragile ecosystem, and only untill recently, began coming back to life, after several years, in which wildlife was almost gone, beacuse of the pollution and inconsideration from the many different LA City Organizations responsible for the care and “health” of The LA RIver. why I am against fishing and kayaking ? First of all the fish living along the LA River is not clean enough to be eat it, wild life ( birds, tourtles and other creatures) get tangled with the fishing lines left by fishermen, this creatures get amputated and many times, they die a very long and painful death. Kayakers often tell me that kayaking won’t hurt or do much damage to the wild life, well that is not true ! they get so close to the “green” areaswhere some species are still nesting or raising their offsprings. so my point is that I am pretty sure dogs should be allowed along the LA River properly on leash, so can’t disturb the wildlife, on the other hand, kayakers and fishermen, should not be allowed anywhere along the LA River,since there is many many places where can practice this two activities, without endangering or destroying the nature or the wildlife.

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