Local News

Thursday, Aug 22 2013 04:51 PM

City rejects county's overture for shelter deal

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Senior Animal Control Worker Lisa Paul and Animal Control Worker Brandon Choate prepare to photograph a dog that had been turned in by its owner in this 2012 photo.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

A day after being notified that the city of Bakersfield was evicting it from its shelter on South Mt. Vernon Avenue, Kern County made a stab Thursday at resolving the conflict.

A county attorney hand delivered to the city a proposed two-year deal that would give the city and county time to build and occupy separate, side-by-side shelter facilities on the city property southeast of Bakersfield.

City Attorney Ginny Gennaro swiftly responded by saying, in effect, forget it.

"The city is not interested in extending the Animal Shelter Agreement beyond Sept. 30, 2013 or beyond Dec. 1, 2013 as outlined in my earlier letter," Gennaro wrote.

In their decision Wednesday to boot the county and an estimated 700 animals from shelter, city officials said the county had dragged its feet in pursuing an agreement with them. They reiterated that Thursday.

"The council was pretty clear in their direction to us," said Steve Teglia, assistant to the city manager. "Enough time had passed. The county had not been taking it seriously."

But Supervisor Zack Scrivner said he believes the city's argument was just an excuse for the city to end plans to create a joint shelter plan with the county, terminate the deal that had the county sheltering city animals and choose a different group to work with.

"If you wanted to work with someone and you were waiting for a contract -- wouldn't you call them or email them and ask what was up?" Scrivner said.

Instead of communicating, he said, the city delivered the county a termination letter without warning.

"That to me is not the behavior of someone who wants to work with someone else," Scrivner said.

Scrivner said he and Supervisor Mike Maggard, in a July 31 meeting with City Manager Alan Tandy and Teglia, were able to iron out all of the conflicts the city and county had over a proposed agreement the city had drafted.

Afterward, the county dropped its pursuit of a "plan B" shelter location and focused on putting the verbal agreement developed in that meeting into written form.

"We weren't just sitting on it," he said.

Proof of that, Scrivner said, is that by Wednesday, within hours of the city's letter of termination, the county was able to finalize a draft agreement "to try and salvage" an animal control shelter deal. Normally, Scrivner said, attorneys spend weeks reviewing such a complex contract.

Teglia said the city will focus on developing a shelter program serving the city of Bakersfield.

Kern County Animal Control Director Jen Woodard said the county was "keeping every option open." Options include renovating an existing county facility, seeking land to build on or leasing a facility.

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