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Dogs and Katz  

By Gene Williams
Lookout Staff

May 4, 2011 -- Not too many years ago, if someone wanted to have an impromptu meeting with Councilmember Herb Katz, a good place to find him would be the dog area at Joslyn Park.

Katz loved his city, and he loved his dogs. He brought them to the park nearly every morning and would sit on a bench at the top of the hill, talking with other dog owners while his canine companions romped nearby.

It was one of his favorite places. So it isn’t surprising that the City has chosen to honor the late community leader by naming it in his memory.

The dedication ceremony will take place 9 a.m., Thursday, May 5 at Joslyn Park. Brief remarks will be followed by music and light refreshments.

“Herb loved his dogs and got great pleasure taking them to the dog park,” said Councilmember Bob Holbrook in a City press release. “But most of all, it was getting to know the people that were exercising their dogs there.”

“I would have never guessed that years ago when I was a paperboy at what was then the Joslyn Estate that one day a dog park on the site would be dedicated to my dear friend Herb Katz,” Holbrook said.

The community’s desire to name the facility in honor of the former mayor became apparent after an informal commemorative plaque was installed shortly after his death.

A subsequent survey of residents showed overwhelming support for making the dedication official, and the idea has been approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission and by Katz’s wife, City officials say.

Katz died in 2009 following a long battle with cancer.

Eulogized as a model public servant, Katz was respected by friends and opponents alike for his candor and is remembered as a feisty independent with strong opinions and a dry sense of humor.

Shortly before his death, he nominated a candidate who had recently died to a board position. When the mistake was pointed out, Katz retorted, “Good, that way he won’t give us problems.”

Katz served on the council from 1984 to 1996 and 2000 to 2008 without the endorsement of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights (SMRR) – a tenants-rights group which has held a majority of council seats for decades – an organization which he opposed.

Despite his opposition to SMRR, the council tapped Katz for a term as mayor in 2007.

In his last campaign, Katz described himself as “the independent voice of reason on the council” and pointed to his work in co-founding the Third Street Promenade, orchestrating the purchase of the land to expand Virginia Avenue Park and fighting for a sign ordinance to reduce urban blight as some of his achievements.

Katz also served on the Planning Commission, Architectural Review Board, Bayside District Corporation (now Downtown Santa Monica Inc.) and the Pier Restoration Corporation and worked with a score of non-profit and educational organizations.

As an architect and principal of RTK Architects Inc., Katz designed a number of buildings in Santa Monica -- the YMCA Downtown and two mixed-use developments on the southern end of Main Street and in the heart of Downtown are among his projects.

As a councilmember and pet owner, Katz advocated for a small-dog area at Joslyn Park and other facility enhancements.

“Herb loved that dog parks allowed people to socialize while their dogs romped around,” said Mayor Richard Bloom in a City press release.

“The parks provided Herb with an avenue to chat with folks in a way that transcends politics,” Bloom said. “He would be very pleased to know that he is being remembered in this way.”

Parking in and around Joslyn Park is limited. Those who plan to attend Thursday’s dedication ceremony are encouraged to walk, bike or carpool.


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