2023.01.26 | Making Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Welcoming for All Visitors

leash sign on bluff trail

Making Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Welcoming for All Visitors

As executive director of Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (FFRP), one of the most difficult things for me is to hear from people who no longer feel safe visiting the Ranch. Often their stories include an off-leash dog: either they were attacked and even bitten, or their dogs were threatened or attacked. At times people have fallen off their bikes either because they were being chased by a dog or to avoid running one down. Sometimes they have been yelled at for having their dogs off leash or more often were cursed by people with off leash dogs who did not care to be reminded of the rules. It is surprising to me that civility, which seems to be abundant on the Ranch, can run short so quickly.

To make sure that all visitors are welcome, FFRP requested that Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) strengthen the regulation covering off-leash dogs on the preserve. Under SLO County law, which covers the unincorporated community of Cambria, there is an exception for “at heel” dogs. Too many people believe that “at heel” means capable of being at heel or is within the sound of their owner’s voice. They used this loophole to excuse dogs running unaccompanied through the preserve or approaching strange dogs and people. This loophole needed to be closed on the Ranch.

To ensure public safety, CCSD amended the District’s Municipal Code Chapter 7.16 on October 13, 2022, so that all dogs outside of the dog park must be kept on leashes. The ordinance went into effect on November 12, 2022. Signs are now up at every trailhead notifying visitors of the law.

FFRP thanks CCSD’s board for supporting this change. My hope is that as compliance increases, some of those who have been excluded from the preserve will feel safe to return. When the experience of domestic animals prohibits humans from safe use of the Ranch, it is time to reassess priorities. Thankfully, Cambria has done just that.

Article first published in https://cambriaca.org/