Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 3, 2017

FAAS as you can

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Clearly this is going to be a VERY BIG ISSUE.  And what is “this” you may ask?  Well, the FAAS issue of course.  Because no one, no one is ever going to come out and say “yeah…I don’t really want to provide funding for shelter animals” unless you are okay with being perceived as a heartless piece of crap.


On the flip side there are large gaps between what FAAS wants and what the City thinks is an appropriate amount of funding.  Somewhere between those large gaps is also the reality of what is being done in other cities and regions to provide care for abandoned and/or stray animals.

I can dispense with the platitudes about how FAAS does great work before I launch into a critique of their asks, right?  If I don’t mention it people won’t beat me over the head with stories about how great FAAS is will they and how they deserve to be funded, correct?

I will say, I don’t think it’s a question of if FAAS should be funded by the City of Alameda, the dispute has always been a question of how much.

The City has a handy dandy guide here on their website but the most compelling document is from the third party budget reviewer, my new policy wonk crush, James Edison.

So here is the bit from why the 2016-2017 approved budget has changed so drastically from the actuals from 2015-2016:


But the approved budget is not what FAAS is looking for, their proposed budget for 2016-17 is much higher, from the budget review:


Essentially FAAS is looking to staff up by adding four new full time positions in addition to the existing three part-time positions.  Not only that they’re looking to give considerable salary increases across the board, but particularly at the top:


The ask from FAAS, in the furthest left hand column, would increase the Executive Director’s salary by 56% as compared to what the City has already offered which would have increased the ED salary by 28%. Additionally FAAS is asking for a full time Development Director while they are projecting that the fundraising dollars will go down.  As budget review states it only makes sense to bring on a Development Director if the cost for the person will actually increase fundraising and grants received.

If you look at the totals at the bottom of that table, the salary costs that FAAS is asking for is $814K as compared to the $680K that is being offered by the City.  For further comparison, you can see the “Petaluma Comparison” which is used because it is a similarly sized population.  Their salary costs total $499K.  According to current information, the number of animal intakes in Petaluma has grown to 1400 at they have a 96.6% live release rate.  According to FAAS’s talking points, they have a 95% live release rate.

In other comparisons, here is the list put together by the City:


If you can see, compared to other regional entities, both FAAS’s adopted budget and the proposed budgets are really high if you consider the cost per person and the cost per animal.  However, the one caveat some of the comparison agencies above do not have rates that are quite as good as Petaluma and FAAS.

  • Contra Costa: 79.4%
  • Solano County: 50%
  • Oakland: 83% (dogs 80%, cats 93%, other 65%)
  • Berkeley: 90%
  • Petaluma: 96.6%

At this point, it appears that what the City is offering to FAAS is imminently eminently reasonable. In the per person cost compared to other agencies it’s right there at the top with Petaluma’s per person cost higher.  It is now up to FAAS to justify the additional expenditures and how those expenditures will create a higher value add than what is being offered by the City of Alameda.

On Monday, I’ll try to write about what the City is offering.



  1. One of the great things about Blogging Bayport is the saving of institutional memory for issue like this. Before commenting I urge readers to read the posts under the Related section. covers the initial discussions of why FAAS came to exist.

    There are many wonderful non profits on this island devoted to many segments of the Alameda and I am sure many of them would love financial support from the City to help them meet their mission.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — February 3, 2017 @ 7:00 am

  2. I think you meant “eminently”, not “imminently”.

    Comment by vigi — February 3, 2017 @ 9:22 am

    • Yeah, nothing happens imminently in this town.

      Comment by jack — February 3, 2017 @ 9:30 am

  3. The difference between other non profits and FAAS is that the city is required to have an animal shelter and provide the service. Which means the cost is there, regardless of who is operating it.
    I am working on an apples to apples comparison chart of per capita funding. The above one is apples to oranges.
    One big column missing is the current, and past five year per capita rate of city funding which is slightly over 4.
    That puts the city of Alameda at a five year underfunding level, the lowest per capita rate of any region around.
    In addition, since FAAS is both open intake, and takes all owner surrenders according to our lease, you would need to add the numbers from the private shelters in cities that have them.
    The last two columns add the private donation dollars to city funding to raise the per capita rate and make it look like FAAS is excessive.
    I ran the numbers for Berkeley yesterday. The municipal shelter is above, then you add Berkely Humanes numbers (2 million). When you redo with the donation funded shelter your per capita is 23.30.
    So a proper apples to apples comparison, and including Marin Humanes numbers, the private shelters in all cities in contra costa county, would bring a very different graph and show FAAS is completely average.
    In addition, the city did a first FAAS column including building costs. Berkeley has a 10 million shelter built a few years ago on the municipal side. Adding that in gets their number even higher of course.
    Anyone interested in understanding the numbers PLEASE come to our town hall meeting at Michaans Auction Monday at 6PM.
    Ask all the questions you want!

    Comment by Janet Davis — February 3, 2017 @ 10:04 am

    • I thought the City was required to have animal shelter SERVICES, not necessarily a physical facility in town. I am troubled that the City is not required to have a homeless shelter for people, and the funding for the Midway Shelter is not on the same level as FAAS. People matter too.

      Comment by Alan — February 3, 2017 @ 10:13 am

    • Perhaps you can explain why add a Development Director position but then simultaneously project that the organization will take in less fundraising dollars.

      Also, explain why the ED requires a 50+% pay raise.

      A justification of “well we’ve been underfunded for five years” is not a sufficient argument.

      Comment by Lauren Do — February 3, 2017 @ 12:52 pm

      • Please come to the town hall Monday night for he most updated numbers! thanks!

        Comment by Janet Davis — February 3, 2017 @ 5:59 pm

    • Thank you!!!

      Comment by frank — February 3, 2017 @ 12:58 pm

  4. There is a requirement to humanely house stray animals. Makes sense to put them in an animal shelter.
    Unhoused, stray animals of course would roam the streets reproducing and causing public health problems.

    Comment by Janet Davis — February 3, 2017 @ 11:07 am

    • You keep saying “there is a requirement to humanly house stray animals”. I’ve searched the web and not found that “requirement. I suspect that this “requirement” stems from your own feeling, which I share, but could you please cite the actual law that requires this Requirement?

      Comment by jack — February 3, 2017 @ 6:24 pm

  5. Hayden act and municipal codes. This is a distraction and not up for debate. The city full understands and agrees with their obligation to the shelter.

    Comment by Janet Davis — February 3, 2017 @ 6:27 pm

    • The Hayden Act, introduced by California Senator Tom Hayden as Senate Bill 1785 on February 18, 1998, amended California Law as it applies to companion animals. Under the then existing law, dogs or cats impounded by public pounds or shelters could be killed after 72 hours of being impounded.

      Comment by jack — February 3, 2017 @ 6:57 pm

      • The clear policy preference of the Hayden Act, quite complex law, is adoption not euthanasia. It was passed by both houses of the legislature.

        Comment by Janet Davis — February 3, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

  6. Ps interesting tidbit. Alameda’s animal shelter was established in 1882, One of the oldest in the nation. It started with the poundmaster getting 1.5 for each animal impounded and killed. I recently spent hours transcribing this old city document hanging on the shelter wall.
    The Alameda shelter has evolved into a shelter the city and community can be immensely proud of. The service level to the humans in Alameda, and the animals, and the positive outcomes, are at an all time high in its 130 year history.
    When one spends time down there you really understand this is about service to humans too!

    Comment by Janet Davis — February 3, 2017 @ 6:36 pm

    • Totally agree with you.

      Comment by jack — February 3, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

      • Yes! So much hard work by many people have brought this about….

        Comment by Janet Davis — February 3, 2017 @ 7:02 pm

  7. From the 2011 staff creating the public/private partnership:

    The City will contribute $300 000 in the first year towards the Shelter s operation. In subsequent years , the $300 000 contribution will grow by an escalator based on the Bay Area Consumer Price Index.

    So the City of Alameda contract payment in 2015/16 was $328,000. The approved FY16/17 budget was $355,283. Seems higher than Bay Area CPI but not a big deal.

    The proposed 2017/18 City of Alameda contract payment is $1,437,000, 336% increase. Looks like the public/private partnership is moving back to public service.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — February 4, 2017 @ 8:19 am

  8. That number is no longer accurate as FAAS has a new proposal out. Part of the problem is that the communication is about the proposal from last August.
    The public private partnership was unsustainable from the beginning.
    The shelter was defunded late 2011, and a large donation was used to fund operation under the police department, until FAAS took over operation Jan 2112.
    The city was contemplating completely closing it, not legal, then outsourcing to Hayward or Stockton. Stockton is one of the worst shelters in CA. A police lieutenant from Alameda went to Hayward and deemed the conditions “deplorable”. So FAAS was the best option.
    However, the true costs of running the shelter, and donation averages combined to create the need for a new contract.

    Comment by Janet Davis — February 4, 2017 @ 8:28 am

    • If the public private partnership was unsustainable from the beginning then why was the agreement made in the first place? If the model was always to go back to the City for more money when the budget forecast was better then that should have been honestly communicated from the start. What is FAAS’s plan for when the economic outlook for the City is not as rosy as it is today?

      Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2017 @ 9:04 am

      • The unsustainable comment is hindsight of course. Our current ED came on board approx two years ago, identified the problem soon and the city was alerted a year ago.
        The idea was never to send the shelter back to the city. The idea was always, and still is, city funding and donations enhancement. With FAAS operating the shelter the service to the humans and animals is at an all time high level. If city funding is increased, then it would be possible for a portion of donation money to be used for something other than 100% operational expenses. Some put aside for times when the “outlook is not rosy”. That is long term sustainability.
        With our current proposal, I am encouraged the city and FAAS can come to agreement, fingers crossed!

        Comment by JSD — February 4, 2017 @ 10:47 am

    • In the October 2016 annual report to City Council I could not find any recognition of the unsustainability of the current funding model. It would seem that if the funding from the city needed to be increased, the public should have been notified.

      Is the current proposal being considered available for public review? What is the proposed increase for the City from its current level of $355,000?

      Comment by Mike McMahon — February 5, 2017 @ 8:35 am

      • The current proposal will be discussed at the FAAS town hall tomorrow night 6PM. Please come and ask questions. I am not sure what is available for viewing as negotiations are ongoing.

        Comment by Janet Davis — February 5, 2017 @ 1:38 pm

  9. typo alert, FAAS of course took over operation Jan 2012.

    Comment by Janet Davis — February 4, 2017 @ 8:32 am

  10. I don’t want to get into moral comparisons, but when push comes to shove I agree with comment 3.1 Allen.

    I think a legitimate question is, How do these animals come to be abandoned or stray ? Somewhere, not too far back I suspect, there is human complicity. What is the budget for spay and neuter education? ( I’m not going to take time to look at the budgets to get my own answer, the question is not entirely rhetorical, but is to make a point). Education campaigns exist but the problem also persists.

    Lauren is right about “heartless piece or crap”, but if people are thinking it then somebody ought to say it. There has to be some fiscal limitations. I don’t want to pay for the acts of irresponsible people who continually abandon animals. Bad enough to walk the path at Shoreline and continually step around strewn piles of animal feces.

    Comment by MI — February 6, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

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