Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 4, 2016

Just like animals

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Tonight on the City Council’s agenda, but is actually something that was placed on Council Referral a while ago but yet not heard because of the length of the meetings, is an item about the Alameda Animal Shelter. It’s listed as just a progress report, but based on the Council Referral and other rumblings this will be an ask for more money to run the Alameda Animal Shelter.

For a refresher, remember that in 2011 the City of Alameda — faced with budget cuts — was going to outsource its shelter services elsewhere.  I believe there were talks with something in Oakland, maybe even farther afield then that to take over the shelter services.  The budget cutting for the police department was between cutting the shelter services or losing nine police officers.

It appears that the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) will be asking for either (1) more capital contributions from the City of Alameda to move into a better site , (2) more operating money to run the shelter, or (3) both. It’s not 100% clear what they are seeking at this point, but I believe there is some sort of communication with the City that outlines these asks.

Here’s the thing, I’m sure FAAS does great work and I’ve heard nothing but great things about the organization, however I think it will be the height of hypocrisy for some of the City Council members who ran on a “fiscal conservatism” (coughfrankmatarresetrishspencercough) platform to continue to expand City services through outsourcing without providing revenue sources.  It’s particularly hypocritical of Trish Spencer who is actively opposing the UUT measure on the ballot, the lone City Council opposition, who has done precious little to rein in spending and has been pretty keen to spend down excess revenues.  Probably to hit that wall to reopen labor contracts.

While I think that it would be good to renegotiate the terms of the contract, it should be approached the same way that it would have been back in 2011.  While the City is in a better financial position now than it was in 2011 the cost for the service should not be more than what it was when the City was looking to outsource the program altogether.

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9 Comments »

  1. I know the post does not expressly say otherwise, but since it does mention Frank Matarrese between coughs as being, possibly, about to step into some hypocrisy, it might be noted that he has, in fact, spoken out in favor of the UUT measure.

    And, if we are going to stay consistent at all times, let’s think about this one for a minute: “While the City is in a better financial position now than it was in 2011 the cost for the service should not be more than what it was when the City was looking to outsource the program altogether.” Actually, that would be quite nice.

    Comment by MP — October 4, 2016 @ 9:20 am

    • Frank M.’s hypocrisy is running on fiscal conservatism but yet being keen to spend down excess reserves and simply “finding the money” for practically every community request (see Alameda Museum history of paying for rent), but yet claiming to be a good steward of the City’s finances .

      The role of the City Council is to plan for the down times as well. Is a greater contribution sustainable if the economy turns and we end up back at 2011 revenue stream levels? The answer is, “no.” If the City Council is going to make a policy decision that regardless of how hard budget times may affect the City that they will fund the Animal Shelter to whatever level it requires even at the expense of other services, then that is a policy decision that they can own, but the purported fiscal conservatives should be called out on their lack foresight of long term implications.

      Comment by Lauren Do — October 4, 2016 @ 9:28 am

      • Fair enough, but as far as calling out people for their lack of foresight as to long term implications, maybe we shouldn’t limit that just to so called purported fiscal conservatives.

        Comment by MP — October 4, 2016 @ 9:38 am

  2. A booming economy with a massive shortage of housing predictably leads to more homeless, people and pets. As rents go up and units turn over, in a hot market, landlords choose not to accept pets. In a down market they often do accept pets to get a better pool of potential tenants. So many stories of people having to move due to rent increases and abandoning their pets because the new landlord won’t allow them. That is to say nothing of their ability to afford to keep the pets w/ a larger share of their income going to housing.
    ———-

    From Frank’s blog: http://councilmanmatarrese.blogspot.com/2016/10/this-weeks-city-council-meeting.html?m=1
    “6-A Presentation by Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) – Annual Progress Report
    The Animal Shelter provides excellent service, but I understand that the current revenue streams are not enough to pay for this level of service. I’ve been asked to bring up the feasibility of having animal service costs added to residential development impact fees since new residential units bring new pets. I will also mention the concept of building larger facility and in-sourcing services to other cities to add to income to the Shelter. We have a lot of work to do on this subject and will need details line-by-line of cost of these services.”

    So, the idea is to make new residents pay for maintaining the service levels of FAAS just like we make them pay for roads, police, fire, etc. Then we bitch about how expensive the new units being sold are and why aren’t they affordable to average Alamedans. In fact, Frank has his referral on this subject still sitting there on the agenda and plans to say this during the Housing Element report:

    “I will make comments on the need to increase the percentage of affordable housing units in development, defining requirements for “work force” housing for those who do not qualify for affordable housing, but cannot afford market rate housing”

    Many of the desires of the “true Alamedans” that have the ear of a majority of the Council are clearly contradictory. Unless your real goal is to make it impossible to build housing and it is all just lip service to affordability.

    Comment by BMac — October 4, 2016 @ 9:54 am

    • OK so it sounds like Frank has, in fact, identified a possible additional revenue source for expanded services, but we don’t like that additional funding source because it would have one segment of the population provide the city-wide benefit, in this case new-construction home buyers. That is a fair point too. It makes housing that much more unaffordable (although in this particular case, it won’t likely tip any scales) and maybe it is also unfair to impose disproportionate costs on the late arrivals (see also Prop 13, see also increased real estate transfer taxes, see also the strictest forms of rent control). But that seems to be the wave of the day.

      Comment by MP — October 4, 2016 @ 11:00 am

  3. “continue to expand city services through outsourcing”? When the term outsourcing is used in relation to the animal shelter it refers to outsourcing the contract off island to another municipal shelter. In 2011 the city had no coherent plan and first thought they could just get rid of the shelter all together. Then the idea to outsource to another municipal shelter was looked into (including some dismal facilities with incredibly high kill rates in the central valley). However, a holding facility still would have been required on island, so there would in fact have been two expenses, combining to create not much of a savings.
    There really are only three options 1. Holding facility and outsource to another municipal shelter (This is a dismal, still costly option no one is looking at anymore to my knowledge). Keep in mind the good shelters do not want our contract and they would want far more than FAAS. 2. Police dept taking the shelter back. ( the cost would be be back to near a million and would be vulnerable yearly to budget cuts in the police dept, and the service level and live release rate would plummet). The shelter was vulnerable in 2011 precisely because it was run by the police dept, so a fraction of a budget cut there became the entire animal shelter. 3. FAAS renegotiating the contract with a sustainable funding amount.
    Given the level of service to the community, and positive outcome results FAAS has achieved, 3. is the best option by far.
    Providing this essential service is not optional for the city, it is a matter of state law. There simply is no way around this expense for the city. Other municipalities have tried, only to end up spending way more in the end. The animal shelter is not, never has been, and could never be, responsible for budget problems in the city. Fully funded it is way to small of a fraction of the overall budget. The difference between the police dept running the shelter, and FAAS, is a fraction of 1 percent. There is no comparison between the FAAS model of success both in terms of positive outcomes for the animals, and service to the humans in the community.
    FAAS, if funding is restored, will continue to leverage the private donations and volunteerism for enhanced services.

    Comment by JSD — October 4, 2016 @ 12:02 pm

  4. No, the fee idea won’t work. Suck it up.

    Comment by nonymouse — October 4, 2016 @ 2:42 pm

  5. FAAS is great and should, of course, be funded. But I agree it would be hypocritical (and classically Spencerian) to pick this as the issue to single out for funding, given she is against the UUT measure (which she was for before she was against). She’ll go wherever the pitchforks point.

    Comment by BC — October 4, 2016 @ 5:26 pm

  6. Just in case anyone was wondering the current fee schedule for licensing animals in Alameda: http://www.alamedaanimalshelter.org/find-a-friend/fees.html

    Comment by Mike McMahon — October 5, 2016 @ 7:53 am


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