21 October 2008

The new way to take a walk.

So this isn't really in a courtroom. But is something I think I could mention in a courtroom. Let's say defense preparation. Or just a new way to describe how to take the dogs for a walk in Lighthouse Field. The old way, before court cases and rangers and litigation and settlements, you just walked over there, took off the leashes, walked around, said hi to people, looked at some butterflies, walked around, that was sort of it. Very, very simple. The new way, a stealth mission, a political action, an exercise in civic justice, ethics and morals, and also calls into play issues of public safety. Holy moley Batman, how hard does it have to be to talk the dogs for a damn walk in our fair city of Santa Cruz?

So in the morning, would like to walk through Lighthouse Field to go to the beach. No longer a destination, now more of a head achey quandry due to all the afore mentioned line items. Seems like the rangers staying off of the beach, but also seems like they are in the field full force. By field, let's say 33 acre field of dead grass with bushes here and there that now make nice bars, campgrounds, and sleazy motel rooms. But where, for years, was just a scenic place to walk around with dogs and the bushes were just that-bushes. Worse crime out there was once an old lady in a light blue windbreaker dropped her kleenex out of her sleeve and forgot to pick it up. Or maybe just couldn't bend over that far. Litterbug. Off with her head. That was the level of criminals out there. Someone forgot to pick up their poop? Here come the dog walking righteous Stewards of Beloved Park to chastise and make sure it's picked up. Peer pressure, self policing, crime free. You want a chatty, gray haired lady in a colorful hat with a giant poodle chewing you out and then yacking your ear off about her poodle? Yeah. You behave out there.

Now, with the new advent of Rangers enforcing the new leash laws, no one walks out there. Deserted. At least by nice neighbors with dogs. People that enjoy using bushes for bars, campgrounds, and sleazy motel rooms, they sorta like the no neighbors and their pesky dogs walking around out there because who wants a big fluffy dog jumping on you in your sleeping bag or disturbing your romantic moment that'll buy ya some meth in a few minutes? Inconvenient. So now, more of those folks there now with the less dogs. Zero of poodle ladies afraid of creepies in the bushes. Way fewer of folks like me. A few of us still take our chances with rangers and man shit and sleepers and shooters, just cuz we still like to walk in our neighborhood park. Field. Dead grass with bushes. We keep to the edges, creep around, a little bit paranoid of the new Anything Can Happen out there vibe in the field.

This morning, walking through, had this feeling of Ranger Alert and kept my dogs attached to my person. Attached to My Person. I say things like this, now that I'm preparing my first legal case. Attached to my person where I've always let my dogs walk free makes me crazy, so didn't even walk through on our normal path. Too depressing. Sort of skirted along the edge, heading for the beach. And good thing, because saw the big white Dodge pickup with the lights on top-Assault Weapon Armed Ranger Wheels- come through. That's the New Steward of the Park now. Good thing paths wide. Those are big trucks. Very nice for driving around in our park. One of those things could take out one poodle lady no problem.

Took dogs down to the beach. Ran around. Just me. No one else. A lot of people scared of tickets down there still. I'm on the perhaps delusional idea that they leave us alone at the beach as opposed to in the field. Actually have to park big Dodge trucks and walk down a million stairs and kind of big inconvenience for truck driving Rangers. Who knows what the reasoning is. Ran for a while, dogs good and tired. Once it becomes winter, tides change and we usually lose the beach for a few months, so not sure what will happen then. Won't worry about that today.

Came up to walk back home via field, took a look around, looking for trucks. Low and behold. Aloha means hello AND goodbye. Who do we see? Ranger truck redux. Numero dos. Different truck completely, this is one of the ones with camper shells, albeit still big and powerful and shiney and new. They all have same rack mounted assault weapons, I've checked. See them talking to a lady off in the distance. Uh oh. Another couple ladies walking and jogging through, dogs definitely on leashes.

Ask a lady I recognize, with a scruffy big dog on a leash and an Obama button on her periwinkle jogging suit, "Did anyone get a ticket?"

Lady jogger says, "I couldn't believe it. She saw them coming, put her dog on a leash, and they are writing her up."

I'm like, "Do you know if it's actually ticket?" Until now, I'm the only person I've heard of getting an actual for money ticket. Most people just get warnings. Most people don't make Officer Walters so mad. No one else I know learning about how court works and building their defense and borrowing a power suit and briefcase. Planning a mock trial with silver tongued friends to help prepare for talking to the judge.

Lady jogger thought so. I couldn't tell who it was. A lady in a light green parka with a big dog. Blurry in the distance. Criminal. Us criminals out there, Joe the Plumbers walking the dogs, causing the state to send giant trucks driving through what once was the nicest field of dead grass around, star of the neighborhood, community gem. Now, via loopholes and court settlements and litigation galore, dead grass with paranoid ladies walking dogs quickly through on leashes, one eye out for creepies in the bushes and the other for great big trucks coming up from behind. It's the new way to take a walk.


Anonymous said...

So I want to know what kind of "rights" these rent-a-cops get. If it's like my campus security they can only write you a ticket for double parking or parking on the grass... other then that the "keep the peace" thing is out the window. What exactly is a "RANGER" and what can they DO?! I'd give em the finger and run away... come and get me! I have 5 dogs! HA!

These guys are a%&^#@ and excuse my french but it's a sad, sad world when the druggies are protected but the behaved dogs are not.

Sorry Black Beauty... hopefully you will get your day to run free in the sun without a leash!!!

PS - OMG!!!!! I got my drawing today AND LOVE IT!!!!! I'm going to send you pics from Taco, the freezing East Coast Chi-waa-waa.

team small dog said...

Oh no, we gotta be careful with the rangers. They are Officers of the Law. They are armed with genuine assault weapons and sidearms. They are Cops. COPS. They can arrest you, write you tickets, you name it. You probably do not want to give 'em the finger and run away. They can shoot you if you want.

In one interview, one officer said that if I did run away, no he would not shoot me. But you are now Evading Arrest and that becomes a felony at some point.

These guys are no RentaCops. No sirree. Scarey.

Anonymous said...

Also remember to be careful in Pogonip... I've personally found that ladies in their forties that throw on rather unfashionable outfits to exercise with their dogs in the early am get off-leash tickets and told that the rangers are "really cracking down on dogs off-leash", but ladies in their 20's that wear skimpy exercise clothing in January just get warnings! (Both events happened just minutes away from each other...maybe a tummy tuck, boob job, cute tanks,what?)

Anonymous said...

Is Lighthouse Field a State Park or something? What's its designation? It's unfortunate for you that Santa Cruz has enough money to be able to afford to have so many rangers to patrol. Here in the SE we can only afford enough Rangers to drive around checking to see if people are drinking and giving them $100.00 tickets for sipping a nice Chablis with their hamburger. All Rangers are mean. they must get special training in how to be Humorless Law Enforcement Officers. And they definitely are just looking for a reason to use those assault weapons. Better pour out that just opened bottle of Chablis or you're dead, lady camper. But they won't get out of their trucks to police the trails and make sure your dog is on a leash. That would require walking and Rangers don't like to be that far from their assault weapons.

team small dog said...

Yes, this is a long, confusing and sordid tale, but in a nutshell:

Lighthouse Field is a field and a beach.

Saved in the '70's from development, became a State Park. State Leased to the City of Santa Cruz to run, mange, do with what they would as their own. The State was happy to have it out of it's hair.

Became legal to have dogs off leash there in 1984.

In 2000, City decided to get a grant to fix the bathroom up at the beach. All of a sudden, all hell broke loose involving legal loopholes, an EIR report not filed in the 80's, and CEQA law.

3 neighbors, who decided they didn't like dogs, decided to fight it the city to get dogs removed from the field/beach. They were able to hire a big, famous CEQA attorney.

The fight got big, the fight got ugly. An extremely organized group called Friends of Lighthouse Field was formed. www.folf.org. They had 2500 members. Yep. 3 vs. 2500.

After many city council meetings, parks and rec meetings, multiple lawsuits, 100 page white papers, research, experts, in 2007, after 7 years of time consuming and irritating BATTLE, the City gave the park to the State. But the State didn't want it, but the City couldn't afford the legal costs that were sure to continue on with continued long term lease of the field over the dogs.

There was also a secret settlement deal in which to mitigate lawsuit costs on both sides, the dog leash law would default to the States boilerplate No Dogs Off Leash. The State says this is generous, they could limit to No Dogs At All.

We can't really afford rangers here in CA either. Governor Terminator slashes their budgets a lot. But here they are, with an important job to do. Get everyone to put on their leashes where They NEVER HAD TO BEFORE. Thanks 3 neighbors with supersonic legal and PR skills!