The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is expected to hear from dog lovers today on a tentative agreement to transfer control of a stunning hillside parcel to the city of Sonoma.
A conservation easement on the 98-acre Montini Preserve, which forms the backdrop to downtown Sonoma, includes a prohibition on pets.
Dog advocates are calling for an amendment to the transfer agreement that would lift the prohibition.
The demand is opposed by the county's Open Space and Agricultural District and General Manager Bill Keene, who said city leaders in Sonoma should decide the issue.
"Basically, we're listening to a very small minority who wants to dictate whether this property should be transferred. I don't think that's good policy-making," Keene said Monday.
The Sonoma City Council last Monday voted 3-2 to accept transfer of the property from the Open Space District during a heated public hearing in which Keene was put on the defensive about the ban on dogs at the Montini site.
The prohibition was put in place when the Open Space District was in negotiations to transfer the property to California State Parks, a deal that fell apart during the state's financial crisis.
The objections to allowing dogs on the property were that they would disturb the natural wildlife and vegetation.
Keene all but said Monday that he would approve any request from the city to allow dogs on the site.
"Leashed dogs (at Montini) is not a big issue," he said.
But those assurances have failed to mollify dog lovers, who, barring a lift on the ban now, want supervisors to take away Keene's ability to veto any such request made later.
Their other demand is that the city of Sonoma not have to foot the bill for an environmental review that Keene said would be required before he would consider allowing dogs at Montini.
The Open Space District bought the preserve and an adjacent 59-acre conservation easement in 2005 for $13.9 million, including a $1.15 million contribution from the city.