Support for dog-free zone includes call for expansion

EUGENE, Ore. - A city ordinance passed 15 years ago bans dogs from the business district around 13th Avenue and Alder Street west of the University of Oregon.

The City Council weighed a proposal from Councilor Betty Taylor Monday to repeal the ban.

The Council heard from business leaders that the ban has worked well, however, and Councilor Mike Clark suggested expanding the ban into downtown.

Eugene enacted the ordinance in 1996 after residents and business owners complained of aggressive dogs, many belonging to transients and panhandlers. A ban on skateboards in the same area was part of the same effort.

Now there are a handful of signs warning dog owners to keep their pups out.

Most dog owners who violate the ban are unaware and comply when informed, police said. Officers have issued an average of 2 citations in the zone per year in the last 5 years.

Taylor's proposal would lift the ban.

"If you approve allowing dogs into the University district, we will be facing the same problems as before," business owner Jim Williams.

"Dismantling this component or any component of what has been a remarkable strategy just really makes no sense," said Dave Hauser with the Chamber of Commerce.

Council members differed between themselves.

"There are no bad dogs, just bad dog owners," Councilor Andrea Ortiz said.

"I think this falls into the category that if it ain't broke, don't fix it," Councilor Alan Zelenka said.

Clark suggested the council hold a work session to discuss extending the ordinance into downtown.

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