During its board meeting on April 13, the Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO) approved a resolution requesting that the city make it a misdemeanor not to clean up dog waste or to allow dogs to run off-leash.
It would upgrade the offenses from petty misdemeanors to higher penalty misdemeanors. Fines could climb from $200 to as much as $1,000.
Stevens Square has many dog owners, and off-leash dogs and dog waste are ongoing issues, residents say.
It's particularly a problem in Stevens Square Park, 1801 Stevens Ave. S. and neighboring properties, where dog owners frequently congregate.
SSCO Executive Director Julie Filapek said that although the community is receptive to dog owners, it wants to make sure they are responsible.
“It only takes one dog that's never being picked up after to cause the park to be full of waste in the springtime,” she said.
City Councilmember Robert Lilligren (6th Ward) is working with the 5th Precinct's Community Prosecutor Lisa Godon to find a way for offenders to be forwarded to the Restorative Justice Community Action (RJCA), a Minneapolis agency that works with neighborhoods to boost offender accountability.
Dog owners guilty of abandoning dog waste could be sentenced to clean up dog waste in the park, for instance.
Currently, RJCA is considering whether it has the resources to deal with the problem. Lilligren said he plans to present a potential solution to SSCO in May.