Plans to build a $13.7 million county animal shelter will move along despite pleas from the sticker-shocked cities of Paso Robles and Atascadero to delay the project while they evaluate a potential North County shelter.
In February, all seven local cities signed an agreement with the county to collectively finance design and construction on a new animal shelter to replace the current shelter off Highway 1, which is considered to be in structural disrepair.
But Paso and Atascadero, which make up a third of the current shelter's animal intake, recently requested that the county hit the brakes on the project to allow them time—six months—to evaluate the feasibility of a less expensive, more local alternative.
"When this was first presented to our council, it was sort of presented to us like, 'You have no choice,'" Paso Mayor Steve Martin told the Board of Supervisors on Sept. 19. "Our constituents have reached out to us and said, 'This is an awful lot of money.' ... We think in the long run the greatest danger would be to plunge ahead into something we haven't fully investigated at this point."
The county supervisors weren't swayed. Warned that any delays could increase the cost of the shelter, the board opted not to oblige the cities' request.
"I say we go forward with this," 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton said. "[The cities] had the choice three years ago of looking at options to do it themselves. ... I just feel like it's putting us in a bind right now."
The animal shelter is in design phases, with a proposed layout of 15,250 square feet with capacity to house 65 dogs and 100 cats. It would have an "outdoor exercise courtyard," space to house quarantined animals, exam and treatment rooms, and administrative offices.
Despite moving forward with the shelter, the county supervisors aren't necessarily united in their support for it. Supervisor Adam Hill called it "a blank check" project consuming funds that could be spent on human services.
"My objection to this is the expense, and the expense of it as opposed to other priorities that we have," Hill said. Δ