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New Off-Leash Park Opens at MacKenzie

Santa Barbara's newest off-leash dog area at MacKenzie Park features two enclosures for large and small dogs, double gates for leashing and unleashing, and about a half-acre of space. | Credit: City of Santa Barbara Parks & Rec

Summertime play dates in the park have just expanded to include well-behaved canines with the opening of the City of Santa Barbara’s newest dog park. The east end of MacKenzie Park, closest to De la Vina and State streets, has been fenced into two separate off-leash playgrounds for dogs smaller and larger than 20 pounds, open from 7 a.m. until sunset.

In a 26-page examination of the city’s myriad parks and beaches that might hold an off-leash site, the Parks & Rec department narrowed its search for the optimal dog park down to five: MacKenzie Park, Plaza Vera Cruz, Dwight Murphy Field, Ortega Park, and the open space above the below-ground Sheffield Reservoir. Size, fencing, compatibility, and design considerations brought MacKenzie to the fore, mostly because a dog park impinged on the other parks’ uses, often children’s playgrounds or playing fields. MacKenzie Park already had an established dog training area at its east end, as well as parking areas, restrooms, and water.

More than 200 dog owners answered a Parks & Rec–sponsored survey that asked such questions as when they would use such a park and how they’d get there. The most popular times for “walking the dog” was daily from 5 p.m. to sunset, or at least a few times a week, and the most popular mode of transportation was by foot. Most respondents said they’d bring just one dog.

The new half-acre MacKenzie Dog Park joins the city’s 305 acres of off-leash parks at the Douglas Family Preserve, Hale Park, Elings Park, and the beach between Arroyo Burro and the Shoreline Park stairway. MacKenzie’s rules include no more than two dogs per person, poop picked up right away, people under age 14 must be with an adult, full licensure and vaccination tags for dogs, and any diggers must have their holes filled back in. MacKenzie will host an official ribbon-cutting on July 11 at 11 a.m.

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