The dream for a new animal shelter to serve all of San Luis Obispo County isn’t dead yet, even though Paso Robles and Atascadero voted last week to opt out of the $14.4 million plan and instead build their own facility.
San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to send North County Supervisors John Peschong and Debbie Arnold to meet with the cities’ mayors and learn about their concerns. They’ll report back in 30 days.
Peschong said his preference is to have all seven cities in the county contribute and benefit from the project, which would be built near the current facility on Kansas Avenue off Highway 1.
“Working together as partners on this is the way to make it work,” Peschong said.
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Supervisor Adam Hill suggested the county look for ways to decrease the cost of the project, as the growing expense was referenced in the two North County cities’ decision to focus on their own project.
The cost of the project to partners is estimated at $13.7 million, which does not include county-only costs for property-related expenses. Each city’s contribution would be based off of past usage of the current facility, and the cost to those participating would rise if Atascadero and Paso Robles opted out. For some, that increase would be significant.
Atascadero was scheduled to provide $1.97 million to the project, and Paso Robles, $2.58 million.
Without those contributions, the cost to the county would increase from $5.2 million to $7.5 million. The cost to Arroyo Grande would increase by $500,000 to $1.66 million. Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo would see the cost for their shares increase as well.
The current animal shelter was built around 1975 on a former landfill with the primary purpose of kenneling dogs. Since then, additional building modifications include dog runs, corrals for ranch animals, a small structure for cats, night drop-off kennels, an expansion for staff administration and renovation for a public lobby, according to a county staff report.
“Many of the shelter’s original design features and characteristics are now outdated or inconsistent with the current understanding of humane animal sheltering,” the report says.
The board determined in 2015 that further investment in the facility would not be cost effective.