LA MESA -- The Little League fields of California towns like this can handle baseball games year round. And many of them, including the one in Rolando, can boast of Major League careers that were launched from its modest dugouts.
And so more than many towns in America, the La Mesa community - its baseball leagues, schools and cities -- has cared for these fields, putting in new walls and fences recently and refurbishing sprinkler systems and manicuring the grass.
Perfect for baseball.
Also perfect for man's best friend.
La Mesa's Community Services Commission Wednesday night heard tales of local dog owners using the fenced fields to turn Fido loose for a run. But dog feces and urine are hurting the playing fields and complaints of youths using the shelter of the dugouts at night for trysts and worse were also shared.
Sam Griffiths, special project manager for the Rolando Little League, asked the commissioners to consider ways of keeping dogs and wayward youths out of these fields.
Unfortunately, as perfect as the baseball facilities may be, these fields are part of public parks and, as the name would suggest, are open to the public and must remain that way.
City staff explained that the municipal code does require dog owners to keep their pets on a leash or they can be warned or ticketed. However, there is little enforcement staff for keeping track of dog owners or the youths who often spend their evenings drinking or making out in the unlit dugouts. And if the dogs are on a leash, it is actually legal for them to be on the fields.
Padlocking the fields gates, all agreed, would solve the problem, but it would also keep fathers, mothers, sons and daughters from practicing baseball and softball on their own and would eliminate other, legitimate uses.
In the end, the commission asked city staff to research how other cities have protected their youth sports facilities. In the meantime, efforts will be made to call the animal control officer when violations are occurring and city police officials will endeavor to respond to violations when their staffing allows.
Baseball officials are hoping dog owners can be persuaded to travel to the city's dog parks or keep Fido on a leash and visit other parks that don't have sports facilities.