Posted by James Hall, a resident of another community, on Apr 6, 2012 at 10:47 am
Hey - I grew up in Palo Alto and well remember the small animal shelter by the railroad tracks and the train station. Local service is not critical, but its certainly and important aspect of a community. This whole matter raises the real issue of what city services can be amalgamated with other cities in "super services". What about
the libraries, the fire department, the city council itself. What is it that really makes Palo Alto such a unique place? Can we send some of these services overseas perhaps where lower wages and benefits could allow greater reward benefits for city managers? I looked at the city salary/benefit lists for a while until I realized how overloaded the managerial categories were with folks making between 125,000 and up, way up. Half the list of 800 makes more than 100,000. Taking care of our animals is important, and controlling that function is equally necessary.
Posted by Barron Parker, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 10:53 am
The underlying problem is the unsustainable costs of city worker salaries, pensions and medical. The expenses have been bleeding us dry, and will do so more in the future. The unions are unwilling to make any compromises, let alone the large ones that would be required to run Palo Alto in a planned, sustainable fashion. This leaves only two alternatives: reducing services or outsourcing them.
The fact that outsourcing services would save so much money, even just in the current accounts (that is, leaving aside the pensions that must be borne over the next 50 years), is an indication of the degree to which city employee compensation is bloated so far beyond comparable costs in the real world.
Without massive restructuring of employee salary and benefits, outsourcing is the only viable alternative that preserves services. Expect to see a lot more of this in the near future.
Posted by Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 11:20 am
Finally--some rationality from the PAW's editorial writer.
> outsourcing is the only viable alternative that preserves services
Services are services--whether they are "insourced" or "outsourced". There is no reason that the City could not "outsource" just about every service to the private sector. The staff could be reduced to no more than 15%-25% of its current levels. Those remaining would become project managers--tasked with providing services at the lowest cost and highest quality. They would be "enabled" to change vendors if quality/costs are not maintained. These project managers would be held to the highest levels of accountability--moving away from the "it's close enough for government work" mentality that has brought us to where we are.
As for the Animal Shelter--there is nothing difficult about running an animal shelter that only City of Palo Alto employees can be expected to do. RFID tags, databases of registered pets, GPS collars/locator services, email, Instant Messenger and other social networking services can easily change the way that animal control works--using more technology to increase the ability to locate lost animals, and to notify the owners of these critters.
Posted by Barbara, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 11:23 am
NO, please do NOT close the animal shelter. Palo Alto needs this service. We have used the shelter services for so many years, and found both our beloved pets there. The City's "powers that be" always find necessary monies when it serves their purposes.
Posted by janet, a resident of Menlo Park, on Apr 6, 2012 at 11:31 am
Despite the poor physical facilities the PA Animal Services organization is wonderful. Their spay and neuter program does a better job than most vets. The volunteers are friendly and the animals seem to get good care. One benefit is that it is small and quiet, easy to access, and no parking problems. Many people cannot make the trip down south. There is also space to exercise the dogs. Many may not know that Stanford University, if it finds animals near campus, will take those animals down to San Martin where the animal stands a good chance of being killed since no one (a) knows this and (b) cannot get to San Martin. I hope that some funds are found to keep the place open. We don't need any more car lots paving in the wet lands.
Posted by The Nose, a resident of another community, on Apr 6, 2012 at 11:36 am
Does anyone think this is going to happen? You'll get honda who wants to have free advertising by throwing up a sign by the freeway.
No one else. Look at all the new shiny dealerships (few years new...) in San Jose. And in Sunnyvale.
You're not going to get a huge amount of dealerships there without destroying wetlands.
This is one of those deals like a major league /nfl ball park. "Oh yeah, there will be a farmers market and art festivals and a riverwalk and world peace. Look closer and its millions for the corporate backers or millionaire owners.
A high visibility dealership didn't do much for the Jeep/Chrysler dealership in Redwood City did it?
To think you're going to get millions from a ton of dealerships that are going to move to and cement over protected birds and animals is foolish at best.
You'll get the Honda dealership, and that's it.
Obiously no one has bothered to go down there and see how little space there really is.
Posted by JM, a resident of the Evergreen Park neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 11:45 am
Aren't the big shelters so overcrowded that lost dogs only get a few days (used to be 3 days I think) before a pet is killed? Being on the border of two counties, does that mean owners of lost animals would have to drive both the San Mateo Animal Services and the Santa Clara Animal services each day for three days to find their pet before it is killed?
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm
Palo Alto Weekly Editorial: you say that "with no apparent interest by neighboring cities or animal shelters to collaborate in continuing a regional facility and with ongoing budget pressures, the city has been pretty much painted into a corner."
That statement ISN'T TRUE. East Palo Alto would join PAAS readily, except that it's tied to a contract until 2015. Stanford residents would love to join PAAS because they have to go to San Martin--30 miles south of San Jose--to pick up their pets if they've broken loose.
I'm very disappointed with how the Weekly is prejudging the issue. Get the facts straight and present them all, fairly.
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm
"We are talking about lives. We have a responsibility to look after and protect the voiceless"
Ridiculous. Animals are not humans. We kill them to eat them, after all. We are talking about domestic pets. If a much more efficient service can be contracted, we owe it to our humans in Palo Alto to take the deal. The days of boutique services are over...it is impossible to pay for them, anymore.
Posted by Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm
> Stanford residents would love to join PAAS
> because they have to go to San Martin--30 miles south
> of San Jose--to pick up their pets if they've broken loose.
Why? By that I mean, why doesn’t Santa Clara county have a facility that is somewhere in the middle of the county? The location of an animal shelter is probably more of a political issue these days, than a cost issue.
Clearly regionalizing this service is something that needs to be done. So, all of these regionalized service delivery models needs to insure that distance to the end users is about the same (suggesting a kind of hub-and-spoke model for locating facilities around the country).
BTW—how many animals a month are picked up that belong to Stanford owners?
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm
The city manager and his assistant claim that Palo Alto would save $500,00 a year if it closed PAAS and used the Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA) in Santa Clara.
I cannot believe how naive they are being (to put it charitably)!! After a year or two, SVACA will inevitably INCREASE its fees for Palo Alto--it will need more animal control officers in this far-north portion of its area, and there will be staff salary and pension issues there, too. AND as SVACA gets larger (by establishing a monopoly in the area) it will need larger facilities--or else it will control its intake by killing animals or getting the Milpitas Humane Society to do so.
Our city manager and assistant are performing a classic bait-and-switch. When our fees from SVACA go up to $700,000 or $800,000 a year we'll be forced to pay them because with PAAS closed, we won't have any alternative. And what will we get for all that money?:
NO local low-cost spay/neuter and vaccination services for animals
NO local adoption services
NO surrender of animals possible except if Milpitas HS agrees, plus a
charge of $150
NO animal control officers known and respected in this community
NO working relationship between P.A. veterinarians and animal
MANY animals abandoned and/or allowed to reproduce without limits--
people can't/won't get to Santa Clara (or Milpitas or San Mateo) for
As another person person posted last week, is THIS the type of community we want??? I HAD thought Palo Alto was an educated and enlightened community . . .
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm
@ Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood:
1. "why doesnï¿½t Santa Clara county have a facility that is somewhere in the middle of the county? The location of an animal shelter is probably more of a political issue these days, than a cost issue."
There's been a big economic down-turn in recent years and not everyone is in high-tech and (relatively) insulated from that. Palo Alto Animal services have been the hub for the northern sector of Santa Clara County for many years, and very efficiently too. I don't know if politics were involved in the placement of the new SVACA. I do sense that politics are playing a big role within Palo Alto, though.
2. "Clearly regionalizing this service is something that needs to be done. "
We already had a regionalized service--it centered on Palo Alto's Animal Services. Mountain View withdrew because recently the lack of upgrades at PAAS apparently translated into less services for MV than it wanted to have. If Stanford and East Palo Alto (the latter after its current contract with PHS expires in 2015) were to join PAAS, then once again the consortium would be great (it currently includes Los Altos and Los Altos Hills).
3. BTWï¿½how many animals a month are picked up that belong to Stanford owners?
I'll check into that. And please realize that if a Stanford student or faculty resident can't keep an animal (for rental, income or medical reasons)and need to "surrender" (give up) the animal, there is no guarantee that it will even be put up for adoption--San Martin isn't known as a shelter that works hard for adopting out anaimals (and SVACA doesn't do that at Santa Clara, and Milpitas Humane Society accepts only about 30% for its adoption program).
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm
@ Palo Weekly editorial: "Separate from the policy decision on how to provide animal services to Palo Alto residents is the question of what to do with the 2.4 acre property if the Animal Services Center is closed."
Does ANYONE believe that these two matters are honestly separate issues???
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I manage my neighborhood's email list, and I give top priority to helping people reunite with their lost pets. I routinely see the distress these episodes cause people, and how disruptive it can be to their lives, for example, the student whose sick cat ran away at the beginning of final exams. People spend hours a day over a week searching both the neighborhood and visiting shelters to try to find their pets. Experts say that a pet owner needs to do this because many shelters have a poor record of working from description or pictures and even fail to check for ID chips (and subsequently killing the pet).
As to the identification of this as "low hanging fruit", this is ridiculous. Although some consultants provide valuable services, anyone with any experience with the City sees a parade of pointless consultant contracts at $100-200K each. And one sees similar expenditures for the hobbies and causes of the various advocacy groups.
For example, in Sept 2009, in response to those who wanted to "collect" a piece by sculptor Bruce Beasley, Palo Alto spent $270K. When I protested to Council members that that money was supposed to be for art and design element for the whole library, not for a single piece out front, they told me that they would cover the rest by transfers from other places in the budget. And since this was early in the Great Recession and construction prices were dropping, they talked of using the bond's surplus for additional art (Web Link). No thought of using it for functional improvements. And notice that their response to the Great Recession was to see it as an opportunity to spend more rather than spend smarter.
And don't get me started on a City that spares no expense to justify exemptions to rational policy to give politically-connected developers tens of millions of _additional_ profits on projects by indirectly transferring costs to the residents. The Alma Plaza PC generated a $16M profit for the developer (on the change in value of the land). Like the Alma-Lytton gateway, projects are routinely approved with inadequate parking, making life difficult for residents of adjoining neighborhoods. Just as the City ignored the time-bomb of employee benefits, it is now aggressively ignoring that employee densities are increasing in offices, which will be exacerbating traffic and parking problems.
The City of Palo Alto has broken faith with its residents and taxpayers. Although a certain amount of the above is unavoidable, the City has persistently failed to handle the basics. Notice that the justification for outsourcing Animal Services is that the City has neglected and mismanaged it for so long (deteriorated facilities, costs) that that is the _easiest_ solution.
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm
Suppose your brother, a Mountain View resident with a dog, is forced by circumstance to give up his beloved Beagle. You can't help because your landlord won't allow pets. With no other friends willing to make room for a Beagle, you and your brother take him to SVACA.
Where you discover that for $150 they will euthanize your Beagle. They do not accept owner-surrendered pets, so euthanasia is all they offer. Here's the description of the "service" for surrendered pets.
When you and your brother protest, SVACA suggests that you try surrendering your Beagle at Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV). So you drive to the shelter in Milpitas. Unfortunately, you discover that HSSV has a long waiting list of owners who need to surrender pets. Turns out you need to make an appointment, fill out a form, and come in for probably two sessions before a decision is reached about your Beagle. The appointments can take 35-45 minutes for a careful interview about the Beagle's history, etc. The fee to surrender a single dog or cat is $160. Here's the description of what it takes to surrender a pet at HSSV. Web Link
For years, at Palo Alto Animal Services (what the biased and uninformed Weekly Editorial calls a "boutique" service) they've been accepting ALL owner-surrendered animals. FOR FREE! They accepted a 3-year old pet rat (a senior citizen for sure) and found him a new home (with me). They accept all kinds of elderly or middle-aged cats, give them the support required to keep them healthy and cheerful. They accept roosters who are illegal as pets in most local communites, and find legal homes for them. They accept owner-surrendered dogs, AND they accept the occasional dog tied at the front door because the owner won't be responsible about his dog's welfare. PAAS provides spay/neuter for the animals, if needed. Provides food and shelter. Provides regular human companionship to keep the animals socialized, with the help of a dedicated group of volunteers.
If you and your brother brought his Beagle to PAAS, someone would sit with you and the dog, take information about the dog's medical history, recent vaccinations, sociability with other dogs and small children, favorite toys, diet preferences, and so on. All aimed at placing the dog up for adoption with an accurate description of its charms.
But suppose you can't bring the Beagle to PAAS because Mountain View no longer has a contract with Palo Alto for such services. So... leave the Beagle abandoned at a dog park in Palo Alto? If PAAS still exists, the Beagle would be picked up as a stray, evaluated for health and behavior, and placed up for adoption. If PAAS doesn't exist, the stray Beagle goes to SVACA for euthanasia. Back where we started, eh? The ONLY solution is to keep PAAS open for business.
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm
The PA animal facility is a boutique project. So are the various arts commission pieces. We cannot afford any of them anymore. The 'protect my pet at any cost' mantra is retro. We can no longer afford such emotionally charged rhetoric.
Close down the animal control center, and be done with it. Lost pets, if not identified, will be euthanized. These pets are NOT humans. Neither are cattle and pigs and turkeys and chickens and fish and mosquitoes. PA adults need to act like adults, not emotional children. Pets come and go. Get used to it.
This is a low hanging fruit that needs to be farmed out to the lowest bidder. Also, the arts commission should just be abolished.
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm
Douglas Moran and Scottie Zimmerman: many thanks to both of you for your terrific, fact-filled posts today! Please will you go to www.paloaltohumane.org or find them on Facebook and sign their petition to keep PAAS open. They will also be gathering signatures on paper tomorrow and the next two Saturdays outside City Hall, 9:00-12 noon. AND next Tuesday evening (April 10) the Policy and Services Committee that's considering the closure of PAAS is meeting at 7:00 P.M., in City Hall.
I am very concerned (and indignant) that today's Palo Alto Weekly is spreading DISinformation in its editorial: it claimed (in its sub-title) that Palo Alto Animal Services needs $7 million for upgrades. THAT IS NOT TRUE: if PAAS stays at its present location, it needs $1.6 million, according to the manager.
ONLY if the city forced PAAS to move and construct a new building elsewhere would $7 million be needed--the city's estimate, not PAAS's. Very likely that estimate is an inflated one.
Until now, I HAD thought that the Weekly could be depended on for accurate and fair commentary and reportage, but no longer.
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm
@ Kerry: 1. you say that "The PA animal facility is a boutique project." I agree that it is small, but it is very efficient, and you're not going to get its level of services elsewhere at its low cost.
2. If you do any serious reading, you'll quickly learn that humans benefit greatly (even their physical health does!) from having pets in their households. And if you've never received the love and loyalty that pets have for their owners, I am genuinely very sorry for you.
Posted by Leonor Delgado, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm
Thank you, Scottie (Zimmerman), for clearly explaining the outcome for lost and surrendered animals should PAAS be closed, and thank you, Doug (Moran), for just as clearly pointing out flagrant examples of governmental "waste projects" (my terminology).
PAAS serves a vital role in this community, the issue of rude employees aside--and here I beg to differ with those who have complained. I am a rescuer and a fairly frequent visitor, and the sole employee who was rude to me has long since left PAAS. For the past eight years, I have NEVER had cause to complain about customer service at the shelter.
PAAS Animal Control Officers provide excellent intervention at schools and other venues, where they foster understanding of humane issues and the function of a local animal shelter in the community. They work with young children to teach them the value of caring for animals. This service will be gone if Palo Alto outsources to SVACA.
I ask everyone to consider the words of Mahatma Gandhi--"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"--and then ask themselves in which direction we are headed when money is valued over lives.
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm
" If you do any serious reading, you'll quickly learn that humans benefit greatly (even their physical health does!) from having pets in their households. And if you've never received the love and loyalty that pets have for their owners, I am genuinely very sorry for you.
I have had pets most of my life. I have also watched them die, in various ways. However, I have never mistaken pets for humans, like some in Palo Alto seem to do. They are animals that are stupid enough, or smart enough, to coexist with us humans. The answer to a dead pet is to get another one.
There seems to be an underlying emotional fear about death going on here. To get all bundled up about a dead pet is immature, and fearful. Grow up, and be adults. We can no longer afford your neuroses.
Posted by barking mad, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm
there are always other options...
a public/private endeavor perhaps?
increasing the cost of spay/neuters by $20.00 - $50.00, increasing the cost of vaccines by $5.00, etc., etc...
i remember when palo alto began shuttering schools in a similar chicken little the sky is falling panic...turns out palo alto NEEDED those schools they'd sold off just a few short years later. look around at all the palo alto schools with "temporary" buildings (many have existed since i was a student at paly in the 80s), they are now permanent and there are easily three times as many...
this is no different, short sighted greed over long term service. we'll end up paying half the price for 1/4 the service. how long do you think it will take silicon valley to get to palo alto on a call?
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm
The city can no longer afford to operate its own animal shelter. Period. Besides, people are reacting to this like the city will no longer provide an animal services option. The Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority will be more than adequate. Done deal. Move on.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
To the trolls "Kerry" and "Marrol":
Marrol: All you have done is repeat your same beliefs over and over and over in this thread and its predecessor. Expecting people to simply accept your unsupported assertions portrays you as quite the narcissist.
Kerry: Have you considered that your hostility to other people's relationships with their pets may be due to jealousy? In your postings, you display the (lack of) emotional intelligence of a young child -- hence you telling other people to "grow up" is laughable. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by rescuer, a resident of another community, on Apr 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm
Why is this being rushed through so fast in the dead of night? We first heard about it March 26 via the news media. No word from our elected officials. Now we hear the city staff wants a decision made April 24, less than a month later. What are they hiding? The public deserves time to consider and comment. The citizen, private sector, and non-profit groups working to save our shelter need time to provide solutions.
Once the shelter and clinic are closed, that is the end. If we then find out somebody was being "paid under the table" it will be too late. What is the rush, Palo Alto City Council?
Posted by cp, a resident of Menlo Park, on Apr 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm
Yes, Kerry: as you say, people kill and eat animals. However, animal welfare encompasses humane treatment of farm animals, and much more. So it is completely rational to say that animal welfare is a core value of a civilized society.
But of course, someone who has little to no compassion for animals might not know that—
Posted by SteveU, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm SteveU is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Our family has adopted numerous Cats from Animal Services over the decades.
This is all about Greed by city hall for perceived Big Ticket Sales taxes (cars), plain and Simple. There are car dealers on ECR and Embarcadero. We don't need to throw out Dogs, Cats and Rabbits for a fat piggy bank for over paid politicians
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm
So I disagree Moran and you label me as a troll? What, are we in junior high or something? Another core value of a civilized society is respecting everyone's right to state their opinion, even if it's one that we disagree with. Quite frankly I'm offended at the name calling. As for my assertions being "unsupported" as claimed, I think the majority of our citizens, the city council, and the editorial writers of this publication certainly have a similar opinion. Take a step back and remember that no one is suggesting, certainly not me, that the city abandon providing animal services. I maintain that we can outsource these services adequately, and save the city millions of dollars over time. Other cities have made the move and so should we. The city is facing unprecedented financial challenges and annual budget deficits. Cuts have been made in vital infrastructure and public safety needs. Sacrifices need to be made, especially when we can continue the service by outsourcing at a much more affordable cost. Bottom line, we can no longer afford it.
If there is so much private interest and support in developing a new or upgraded facility, then where has all that energy been hiding while the facility has been neglected all these years? Here's a suggestion. How about once we fund our absolutely essential and vital civic needs, then push for a bond measure and tax increase to pay for a local shelter. If there is enough support then it should be approved overwhelmingly. That sounds more reasonable to me.
Those calling for fiscal responsibility and financial priorities do not hate animals, or are uncaring, or lack core values. Step back and take the emotion out of this issue for a minute. It's about common sense and doing what's best for the greater good. If stating my opinion in a respectful manner makes me a troll, then so be it.
Posted by reine, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm
If the shelter has problem with its budget for the years to come, then the shelter can consider how to cut costs, possibly raises some of the service fees, possibly revise salaries, the list of personnel.
Fund raising could be done by friends of the shelter.
There should be different proposals, not just: close or keep as is.
Other plans could be developed.
Yes it is very suspicious that someone is pushing this in such a short time frame, rather than to study the question, which is usually the Palo Alto way. Why the rush? Because most of the residents don't read the paper and therefore will not have time to hear about it and will not have time to oppose the plan?
I agree with Mr Ziemermann's presentation about what will happen to the people who want to surrender a pet to SVACA.
Interestingly enough, until a few days ago, the SVACA's website had written in RED letters that SVACA was not accepting owner surrenders.
Today I see in black letters that residents of Santa Clara...should call a phone number for information. And if you go to the HSSV, you will see they are flooded with requests for surrenders.
If you have a copy of the Friday Daily News, please read page A10 and see what Losing Palo Alto Animal Services would mean.
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm
To rescuer, a resident of another community: where did you hear about the city of P.A.'s deadline of April 24 for this issue (closing PAAS)? That is terrible news. So unfair of the city, not to give us all time to work out a constructive plan. I agree with you that it looks suspicious.
Posted by Bill H, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm
Can't help but think you think your point of view is correct, which is why you continually state it in every post. This has NOTHING to do with maturity, it has to do with PA wanting the property for $$- for a dealership or whatever, to get more money. Get off the animal pedestal and identify the real issue at hand, whether you like animals or not. You've become something of a pariah on these boards, and frankly, I'm bored. How's that for an immature comment? If for one moment you thought out the plight of a 27-mile span between the nearest spay/neuter facilities, it might change your intransigent point of view, whether or not you own any animals. Enough.
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm
Supporters of PAAS:
If "rescuer, a resident of another community" is correct about City Council wanting to vote on the issue on April 24, we have only 2 weeks and 3 days left in which to gather support from the community and get the city to change its mind!!
As far as I'm concerned, I'm going to spend no more time answering Kerry, Marroll, and the like--they're a distraction from what I need more to be doing, which is getting signatures to the Palo Alto Humane Society petition, emailing the City Council, and writing to the local newspapers.
9 a.m. to noon tomorrow, outside City Hall. Hope to see you there! AND on Tuesday April 10, inside City Hall, at 7 P.M.
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 1:50 am
So the gamut ranges from seemingly exclusive fixation on only the animals....to calling the service "unsustainable" and calling for the "greedy" union workers to be replaced by guys picked up at the Home Depot parking lot. No one seems to care about the jobs of those affected....as the rich pocket ever more money and drive our country into the ground.
What is missing is the suggestion to purchase robots to handle the animals in need?
Or, if this "unsustainable problem" persists and gets bad enough perhaps some could call for the CA governor and legislature to enact a law like in Michigan.....and then take over totally the government of Palo Alto.
Speaking of animals..when you starve the "beast", then the beasts may run amok.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 2:49 am Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Marrol: If you don't want to be labelled a troll, then stop behaving like one. You falsely claim that my comment was because I disagreed with you, when in fact my comment focused exclusively on your ill-conduct. Classic behavior of a troll.
Aside: For people unfamiliar with discussion groups, this meaning of "troll" is derived from trolling, a fishing technique. A troll is someone who makes inappropriate posts as bait in an attempt to provoke people attempting to have a serious discussion.
Marrol: That you believe that claiming that others have beliefs "similar" to yours constitutes "support" for your opinion indicates a remarkable lack of knowledge about the fundamentals of argumentation and how discussions are conducted.
Posted by Sad, a resident of another community, on Apr 7, 2012 at 7:41 am
So sad. The poor animals. Folks at the shelter really seemed to care. I made donations and purchased supplies there to help in a small way, and used the shelter for spay and neuter. How Palo Altans treat the lowest on the totempole speaks volumes for your wealthy community.
Posted by sandy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 9:02 am
Instead of getting rid of the PA animal shelter, how about getting rid of J.Keene and the other transplants who don't get how Palo Altans think?? Then we can use their bloated salaries to keep the shelter open!
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 9:37 am
Yeah, and you dismissing others and calling them names, conduct which I took no part in, is how discussions are conducted according to you Moran. Unreal. Furthermore, you are the one who claimed that my assertions were "unsupported". Again, I beg to differ. I believe there are plenty of people who share my thoughts on this issue, which is precisely why we're having this discussion in the first place. I will choose not to be shouted down by intolerance. We can agree to disagree, and I respect everyone's right to voice an opinion. I'm simply asking for the same respect and courtesy in return.
For Bill, you're correct, this issue has nothing to do with maturity, and everything to do with economics. The "more money" you refer to, whether that be accomplished through cost cutting, savings, or revenue generating investments is precisely what the city needs to get out of this financial mess that we're in. So yes, I want the city to do that. I do not want to continue to face annual budget deficits, and have vital needs in infrastructure and public safety go unfunded. As for the "plight of a 27-mile trek", you make it sound like the new shelter is on top of Mt. Everest or something. How about more like a 20 minute drive down 101. And for the number of times that even our pet owning citizens will have to make the short trip, what, 2-3 times a year, it's not to much ask considering the significant cost savings.
Again, I sincerely apologize if I've offended anyone by stating my opinions on this issue. I realize that any discussion may involve some public discourse. People are never going to agree on everything, especially when it applies to public finances. However, I truly believe that assuming the opinions are stated in a respectful manner, and in accordance in this case with the rules of this forum, then no one needs to be disrespected and dismissed.
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 9:56 am
One last thing, if I were posting my comments on a say for example, "Save the Shelter" website, then yes, I would say in that forum my commentary would be inappropriate or at the very least, highly unwelcome. But can anyone cite one example of me saying anything that a reasonable person would deem "inappropriate". Since when does simply having a different opinion qualify as being inappropriate. Believe me, I know and respect the boundaries. In this case, my comments were posted to an editorial piece on the sustainability of the shelter. An editorial piece is supposed to be thought provoking and spark what we hope is a spirited, but respectful debate. This is precisely one of the places this discussion should be taking place.
Posted by Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 11:45 am
One of the frustrating things about having to discuss this sort of matter, is the appalling lack of information available to the public about the finances of City operations. The following link is to the 2012 Operational Budget, which provides precious little information about Animal Services—
The following data about the Center’s operations can be found in the budget section on Animal Services--
o) Costs between 2010 and 2011-12 are up
o) Revenues between 2010 and 2011-12 are down
o) Total Employee head count the same for 2010-2012 budget cycle.
o) Number of service calls projected to increase in 2011-12=~4700
o) Number of animals housed projected to increase in 2011-12=~3000
There is no information as to why the service levels for the Center have been projected upwards, and the revenues have been downward. Presumably labor costs will always increase, regarding of revenues generated, or service performed to the community.
No information exists about:
o) Number of residents vs non-resident clients
o) Treatment/processing costs per animal.
o) Total costs of running the Center.
o) Number of unique people who utilize center per year.
o) Number of households in Palo Alto which have pets.
o) Number of people in Palo Alto who utilize private sector veterinary services.
o) Number of unique animals that are collected as strays.
o) Number of animals adopted.
o) Number of animals put down.
o) Revenue/Sales Tax generated by product sales.
o) Deferred maintenance costs.
City of Palo Alto financial reporting makes it difficult to actually determine the total costs of any City operation. In the case of the Animal Services operation-this is a small business unit that ought to be easily modeled, and costs reported to the public. Unfortunately, this is not so.
Let’s consider a basic number in private sector accounting—total cost of services. This is not shown in the published budget. While not difficult to determine, it does demand that the City begin to track all of the costs associated with providing the service. For instance:
The City tends to ignore the cost_of_occupancy (initial construction/finance costs and/or refurbishment/financing) costs—pushing much of the actual cost of providing this service onto the backs of the taxpayers—most of whom are not animal owners, or who use private sector veterinary services. The result is the City competes with private sector providers of animal services—which pay both income taxes and property taxes. At a minimum, the City should be providing the public the true costs of providing Animal Services, on a yearly basis, in order to better understand how effective the management is, and how much of a burden this service is on non-animal-owning taxpayers.
Another metric that is missing is the subsidy levels provided clients of this service. In order words, if the City properly accounted for all costs—such as “occupancy costs” and all taxes that a private sector operation would be forced to pay—what would the schedule of costs be to the customer?
In short—virtually no information exists in the public domain in order to make any sense out of the administration, and general management of this service center. Perhaps this sort of information is available within the Animal Services unit, but if that were true—why isn’t it available to the public? If the City Manager has not required this sort of information from the Center Manager, he is not doing his job; moreover, if the Council is not demanding that the City Manager produce this level of documentation from every department within the City’s operational scope—it is not doing its job either.
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm
This subject of the animal shelter is an example of how Palo Alto eventually gets a budget in the red. The PAAS is a boutique service. It is similar PACT (children's theatre)and the arts commission. Nice to have for some, in flush times, but not when we are running out of money.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Apr 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm
It's not a boutique service at all- you're wrong, per definition, Kerry. It's a small shelter serving a small part of the region, but that region comprises a fair amount of nonresidential land, which is part of why PAAS stays busy, as does the PHS-Wildlife Center.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Apr 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm
It's pretty ironic to read anti-union posts from folks living in Crescent Park, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in one of the wealthiest cities. Instead of blaming the unions, this is who you should blame:
-YOURSELVES. Yes, the citizens of PA - especially those not involved in animal welfare or other aspects of civic life.
Your shelter has had problems for a long time, mostly because, under the auspices of the police dept., it has suffered from lack of care & lack of morale. The staff have to live w/being bolstered by residents & animal rescued groups instead of properly mentored/supported/guided by those above Stadler. Many shelters under PD auspices languish the same way, wherever they are.
I don't know if keeping the shelter open or closing it is the best thing. But, having rescued countless numbers of animals off of your streets for decades, & rarely turning them into the shelter, but working w/the shelter to vax, alter or rehome them, this I can say:
It is APPALLING that in Palo Alto that the animal shelter is considered to be a throwaway service, whether people mistakenly call if boutique or they want to rant & rave about its employees in barely readable terms.
The shelter has a lot of problems, including its age. But those problems are fixable. For it suddenly to be deemed a "boutique" or unnecessary service now that MV has pulled out is an attempt to change opinion by slanting language. Many of the people w/that opinion know little beyond being PA residents who're either anti-union or anti-tax increase. I'm not saying you should be prop either of those, but admit, please, how little you actually know about what PAAS does, what it doesn't do, how it can or can't be fixed.
My comments here are from being a nearly lifelong resident & a native of this area, as well as someone who's worked in animal welfare in rescue the majority of my life - as well as having worked at an animal shelter, other non-profits & started a non-profit. I also have saved your city money by pulling animals off of your streets & keeping the majority of them out of your system.
Living here in EPA, while I've adjusted to it, has been a shocker in many ways, especially related to how shoddily animals are often treated here. Truly, some of the things I've seen involving animals have been horiffic. More often, they're banally neglectful, but w/tragic results. I'm looking at one of those less tragic results right now, cozying on their pet bed. My values have traditionally been more similar to those of Palo Altans when it comes to animals - until now.
I wish that I could respect comments that I disagree with, but I can't because those comments don't seem to be based on facts & that's frightening given that animal welfare is a serious subject. I don't trust your city government & I haven't re animal welfare for a long time, ever since I learned how neglected PAAS has been by the powers that be. So now it's to be scapegoated w/out the relevant issues being clarified.
Sorry that this is so long, but I've been looking at this from many angles & after many years of watching PAAS be neglected. It's a shame, because it wouldn't be rocket surgery to turn PAAS around.
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm
You bleed compassion for domestic animals (pets). That is your issue. Pets are constructs created by humans for their own comfort. They get lost, sometimes. They die. Just get another one, and get over it.
A regional facility can handle the issues more efficiently. That is what we need to do. Nothing fancy. No more boutiques services, please!
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Apr 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm
Kerry - why don't you get that the services offered by PAAS are NOT boutique services? You seem to love to use wrongly use this word to get your oft-repeated point across.
I don't bleed anything but blood. It's not MY issue, it's EVERYONE'S issue. This is why: Animal welfare has become increasingly important in our lifetime due to increased human population & industrialization. Animal welfare, be it for wildlife, domesticated animals or farm animals, goes hand in hand w/public health & safety & that's an intersection that all animal service agencies have to deal with responsibly. Many people commenting are concerned about who would handle these responsibilities & how well they would if the services are outsources. Their concerns make solid sense & to not be worried would be naive.
It's also patently ridiculous to call anyone in animal welfare who doesn't believe in no kill (I don't, because it's unrealistic) as bleeding compassion. Once again, you twist words to suit your own ends. You need to stop doing that & if you argue for closing the shelter, do so based on a rational argument that doesn't attack the real or perceived values of others who disagree w/you. I could attack your anti-social opinions by throwing some of your arguments back in your face, but that won't forward the subjectat hand at all.
Posted by rescuer, a resident of another community, on Apr 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm
The date of April 24 or possibly 26 is from a private communication. This is when a decision might well be made, at least unofficially. City staff is pushing hard, apparently, to close the shelter, we can only speculate why. Might be as simple as: it is the easiest solution.
Agree Outsource-Them-All, lack of information hampers us. Requests for details fall on deaf ears. We need detailed numbers from last year or two to make intelligent suggestions. How do we get this info? Can someone go to city hall and demand to get it? Then sift and publish here?
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm
Marrol and Kerry, Why are you unable to sit back and watch the citizens of Palo Alto work hard to find alternate solutions for funding PAAS? Why do you want us to shut up and go away? Why do we piss you off? What is the RUSH? If closing the shelter is a done deal, why are you worried about our search for other options? And why haven't you got anything persuasive to say about the advantages YOU see in closing PAAS?
Telling us that we'll get "adequate" service at SVACA doesn't do it for me. Nor does the prediction of uncounted $millions$ in the city's coffers based on finding a new tenant for the land PAAS occupies next to the Baylands. Sorry, but I'm not persuaded.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 2:48 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
For people lobbying the Council:
A significant part of Palo Alto's budget problems is the result of Palo Alto wanting to be "world class", to be "first in the nation/world", ... One hears this routinely from Council members, both as candidates and after they are elected. And when questions of cost-effectiveness are raised, they routinely go unanswered.
While this is an obvious area for savings, the above and the long history of these vanity projects taking precedence over basic services and maintenance of the infrastructure indicates that this argument may not resonate with the Council. What does seem to sway the Council are many people physically turning up (filling the Council Chamber). Emails are far less effective. And in-person emotional arguments seem to trump all but the most carefully tailored and well delivered logical arguments, as long as the emotions are not illogical.
Since many of the people in this discussion may be new to the issue of vanity projects, an example: The focus of the current Bicycle Plan is on features that are used by a national organization to rank bicycle-friendliness. Palo Alto is embarrassed that Portland (OR) and Davis rank higher. Thus the focus is on features of dubious value or that appeal to the elite bicyclist, but that are reflected in the ranking. What is being neglected are problems such as fixes to persistent problems with the pavement ("riding surface") that have long been identified as discouraging factors for many normal bicyclist. And I have been fighting for 13 years for safety improvements to a major connector between the bike ways to the east and west of El Camino. I have succeeded at least twice in getting it labeled a priority only to have it silently removed later. But since the problems are invisible to the rating organization, it just hasn't been important to the City and the bike lobby.
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm
People are preparing signs and contacting friends to come to City Hall on TUESDAY, April 10th at 6:00 p.m. Bring your well-behaved dogs if you like.
At 7:00 p.m. the meeting of the POLICY & SERVICES Committee begins in the Council Chambers. Members of the public who want to speak to the committee can fill out a card with name, address, and topic. Each person is allowed 3 minutes to speak. If an unusual crowd turns up & fills out cards, the committe may choose to limit the total time allotted. Members of the public are welcome to take seats in the chamber and listen to the discussion. (I suspect dogs aren't allowed inside -- keep that in mind.)
PAAS is not on the agenda for the April 10 meeting. PAAS is on the agenda for the May 9th meeting of POLICY & SERVICES, also a Tuesday. Agendas are posted on the city's web site before each meeting. I'll get back to you with a link....
Hope to see you all there this Tuesday!
Sidebar: Kerry, I appreciate your effort, but pallid insults are not persuasive either.
Kerry, I appreciate the effort, but pallid insults are not persuasive either. Keep trying?
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm
You and your bow-wow brigade will probably be successful. It usually is, in Palo Alto. However, maybe there is hope, this time. Palo Alto is out of money for the boutique projects. City officals now have a slightly hard time promising $$ that they don't have. On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me that they cave.
Is there any elected City official, who can stand up against the boutique special interests?
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Apr 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm
Anyone who really considers anything about PAAS "boutique" is either crazy, stupid, ignorant or some combo of the three - & that includes this publication.
Scottie- you boutique electronics-loving elitist, I write, typing this on my elitist, boutiqueish iPhone in elitist E. Palo Alto, surrounded by my domesticated pets, that I bleed my boutique-services adoring blood. When my electronics die, I just get new ones. They're just electronics, after all.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Apr 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm
Anyone who really considers anything about PAAS "boutique" is either crazy, stupid, ignorant or some combo of the three - & that includes this publication.
Scottie- you boutique electronics-loving elitist, I write, typing this on my elitist, boutiqueish iPhone in elitist E. Palo Alto, surrounded by my domesticated pets, that I bleed my boutique-services adoring blood. When my electronics die, I just get new ones. They're just electronics, after all.
Posted by Fleur de Lis, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm
The "Get Over It" and "Grow Up" sentiments:
The fact that there are studies showing that pets are beneficial to humans, and that when one's pet dies, people aren't immature to mourn the loss of a pet. To think that a pet is just a "thing" and that one should "get over it" make me guess that cold stance may stem from a past loss or hurt of a pet or perhaps a person, and perhaps people who haven't experienced the benefits of a pet just haven't opened their hearts up to the wonder and joy one can experience with an animal. Perhaps something someone loved had it taken away, or it wasn't permitted, or feelings were made to be squelched while a child. I can only guess.
Perhaps the "get over it" language is something people might explore and try to understand why there is such an emotional reaction against animals and the people with warm and loving hearts who love pets. It is not immature to love a pet at all, and people who allow themselves that love are the healthier for it! While I can only guess at why this is such a curious and negative reaction in someone (to tell people they should "grow up" when there is no such need to "grow up" about emotional bonds, I do feel sympathy and concern. In psychology and counseling, when a person responds in such a strong way, that is an issue that merits looking at more closely to understand why one feels so adversely against something.
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 8:00 am
Spare me the psychobabble. You can love your pets all you want, but I shouldn't have to pay for your indulgences. The closing of PAAS is an efficiency move...you all can take your pets to another facility to get their needs met.
Posted by Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 9:45 am
> The fact that there are studies showing that pets are beneficial to
> humans, and that when one's pet dies, people aren't immature to
> mourn the loss of a pet.
So are you suggesting that Palo Alto now should off subsidized physiotherapy for grieving pet owners, and even perhaps open a pet cemetery for them to appropriate enshrine their departed pets?
What does any of this "pets are not things" train-of-thought have to do with whether the taxpayers of Palo Alto have an obligation to subsidize the animal owners of Palo Alto, and other cities, too?
At the bottom line--this is a business decision. With the exception of how to deal with animals that need to be killed (wild dogs attacking people and other animals), there is nothing going on at the Palo Alto Animal Shelter that can not be provided by the private sector at lower costs to the taxpayers. If the costs go up for the animal owners-isn't that only fair?
Posted by Fleur de Lis, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 10:00 am
I am not making any such suggestion to add in grief support groups for pets or adding a pet cemetery or any such thing (those are available elsewhere, so what you write is not relevant to this discussion, since that wasn't my point), nor am I telling anyone what to do in this matter as far as how to make budget. I am merely addressing the hostility and lack of feeling toward those who do feel they want to save this shelter conveyed in the demeanor of another writer, and the callousness that I think is off base.
My comments are not addressing what people should do with this shelter, only addressing what I perceive is an attack on others. People are entitled to their feelings of love toward their pets, and for many I have seen over the years that grieving a pet is real, and the pet is not just a thing, but is considered a family member not so easily and mechanically replaced. This should be a polite forum, not a place to put others down, and that was my concern with the other poster. It is a real shame people pit themselves against others in such a way, and I would hope that such a person consider how they come across to others in such an off-putting way. For example, a person can suggest that they don't think the shelter is necessary without putting others' feelings down as without merit. I consider that flaming, and people will react back to that.
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 10:22 am
This is very much an economic decision, and not a reflection in the least of a majority of people being uncaring toward pets and their owners. Everyone has to realize what dire economic circumstances our city is in. These are truly unprecedented financial challenges that we face, and it will require greater sacrifices on our part to rectify it. The city budget must be balanced. Vital and essential public safety and infrastructure needs have been neglected and go unfunded. The city has floated the notion of raising taxes to pay for this essential civic work, and quite frankly, I find that path to be totally unacceptable and irresponsible. The solution to these financial problems must be achieved by setting financial priorities, making sacrifices wherever possible, and cut spending on non-essential expenditures. PAAS is by no means, potentially, the only city service that is facing elimination or outsourcing.
As much as I respect and appreciate the benefits of operating our own animal services, it is simply one of the expenditures we can no longer afford. Especially when there seems to be a very viable and less costly option of providing our animal services by outsourcing. The cost savings will be significant, just in what we wouldn't be paying to maintain and upgrade the facility in the future. There will also be salary and benefit savings, operations, as well as equipment cost and savings. The city could also look at how to develop and use the land in a profitable manner.
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 10:42 am
Very well stated Fleur de Lis. I couldn't agree more. As a person who respectfully has called for outsourcing these services, I believe that I reflected your sentiments as conveyed. For simply disagreeing, I was dismissed, accused of ill conduct, and subjected to name calling. I too call for greater civility during these discussions. I will choose to remain on the high road and not contribute to this mean spirited, intolerant behavior. As I've stated before, people can agree to disagree in a civil manner. We should respect each others right and ability to express our opinions freely, as long as its being done so within the rules of this forum. No one should be dismissed, called offensive names, or questioned as to their right for being here.
Posted by Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 10:57 am
> My comments are not addressing what people should do with
> this shelter, only addressing what I perceive is an attack
> on others.
In that case, maybe it’s your comments that are not relevant to this discussion.
Palo Alto has been hijacked by special interest groups for a long time. One of their well-practices techniques for bleeding the City’s General Fund is to make the issues “personal”. They do that by attacking people who disagree with them. This is a very well-understood technique—going back to Saul Alinsky (American Community Organizer from the 1950s/60s).
You have done a very good job trying to “emotionalize” this decision—whatever your motivations, or your stated claims about the end result of the City’s decision about the continued operation of the animal shelter might be. Perhaps it would be better if you stopped contributing these distracting comments.
It is not the obligation of City governments to minister to the well-being of pet owners. Maybe there is a roll for animal services in some cities—such as dealing with dangerous animals. If public dollars are spent to insure the public safety—then that activity would probably not be seen as “unnecessary”. But requiring the tax payers to subsidize spaying/neutering in order to reduce the cost of pet ownership is not a good use of public money.
The concerns of those who somehow feel that they would be inconvenienced to have to travel outside of Palo Alto (presumably on public transportation or a bicycle) to retrieve their pets could be resolved by offer a home delivery service—which could be paid for by the pet owner. Not to mention the numbers uses of technology that would shift the responsibility from the taxpayers to the pet owners for locating and retrieving lost pets.
It’s a shame that on-line discussions tend to drift towards impersonal attacks. But your contributions are not helping this discussion.
Posted by Fleur de Lis, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm
I am not trying to emotionalize this discussion, I am targeting what I see as flaming. My background is counseling. While I love animals, and have pets, my father-in-law was a Dean of Economics, so I am not one to get involved in making a decision as far as this shelter. I believe in making sound fiscal decisions as far as city budgets and am in support of what makes the most sense, but also think people should look at options carefully, yet people should not be attacked for their love of animals in such an insensitive way, people can make their opinion known without flaming others. I am not going to give an opinion on whether this shelter should be saved or not, since I haven't seen the numbers run, and I do care about where my tax dollars go. Perhaps the shelter should be saved, perhaps it should be outsourced. I don't frankly know, and again, I haven't seen the numbers to give a valid and informed opinion. I have personally witnessed through a friend how the shelter is lacking in dollars and staffing and dropped the ball on follow-up on a situation they indicated they would on an unsuitable pet owner and didn't when provided with solid evidence there was a numbers issue, yet they also spotted a potential risky adopter and were able to prevent this person from adopting (both negative and positive examples of how the shelter is quite overwhelmed and short staffed). So, I have mixed feelings.
Posted by Only facts, a resident of another community, on Apr 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm
SVACA has got it. PAAS no more. It is time for something new. I bet that even PAAS' employees already have the feeling that, it is time to move on. Perhaps get hire at SVACA, especially ACOs. SVACA will need extra ACOs. There is the chance PAAS ACOs get on.
Posted by Fleur de Lis, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm
Another comment to Outsource:
I agree that budget might be streamlined to focusing on dangerous animals, noise complaints, and animal welfare issues, and not so much on low-cost spay and neuter from the stance that I have seen people adopt animals without the resources to pay for them properly.
Perhaps cut seniors and those who have service dogs some slack, but not help people who can't afford to properly feed and care for their pets become adopters when they shouldn't, unless they have some sort of charitable resource who can help them in times of need, yet these people are often the ones that dump their pets back in shelters when they can't afford the vet care. I know of a person who can't pay for all of their pets' vet care and doesn't keep pets registered properly, and is a nuisance to the neighborhood as far as containment and noise of the dogs. Not to sound harsh here, but I am aware of people who want to adopt a pet for virtually free and then aren't able to be responsible pet parents. Now, if a vet donates their time, then perhaps offer low cost services to those who are responsible and have a low income, as long as they can show they are responsible, maybe. I am for one willing to pay more for vet care, and think those of us willing to pay more should, and leave the low cost to those who really need that, if that helps budget. So, I go to a private vet, and do not use the shelter's services.
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm
The Palo Alto animal shelter has a deteriorating facility but it's very efficient and the animals are treated there better than any other shelter I know in the area. It's a big asset to the community. Animals who would be put down in other shelters are saved in ours and end up being adopted. If we close down this shelter many animals will end up being killed. Don't listen to the outsourcing crowd. Eliminating a few positions in the bloated city manager's office would suffice. We can increase the fees for services, etc. Keep it open.
Posted by two sides, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm
Both of the two main camps posting to this thread have valid arguments:
Emotional: Doug is right. The city goes for emotion. Think of the children crying for their beloved CT. While I agree that pets are incredibly important for many reasons, many posters sound like those kids. Let's face it: Everyone has his/her own favorite cause. Which ones should the city support?
Financial: Providing animals services, apart from public safety, is not an essential responsibility for any city to provide. Money is tight.
That said, the city never worries about spending. After all, it’s not their money. Doug Moran is spot on when he says Palo Alto’s goal is to be “world class.” I’ve heard that term applied to the art center (hardly world class), the libraries (certainly not world class in terms of technology) and various other city structures and services. It’s embarrassing. And it’s really just an excuse to spend more money than is necessary.
I would personally rate animal services a higher priority than the CT or the Zoo or the art center. But I realize that NONE of those services is essential.
What bugs me is that while the city proposes cutting animal services, it continues to find more ways to spend more money it doesn’t have, e.g.,
- $9 M bicycle bridge, which could cost even more, considering the Homer Tunnel experience
- $300K from the general fund for a Magical Bridge playground in Mitchell Park, also likely to have a higher price tag
- Many millions to purchase—and refurbish—the Post Office on Hamilton
- $500K - $1.5M for wider sidewalks on California Ave.
All of these new things will also require maintenance, adding to the current list of “catch-up” items: $12 million for repairing old buildings, $14.3 million for parks and $3.7 million for sidewalks. Even more money will have to be put into the reserve fund each year. OR, in 20 – 30 years, the city will just have more crumbling infrastructure.
BTW, the CT Budget for 2011 was $1,144,175. Expected revenues were $330,000 for a net of $814,075.
For 2012, CT Budget is $1,166,236, expected revenues $330,000 (odd that it’s exactly the same), net $836,136.
The city’s capital budget shows $100,000 in 2012 for design and $500,000 in 2012 for renovations to the CT. (CIP PF-0900)
The Jr. Museum and Zoo project AC-12001, footpath & perimeter fence, has a budget of $50,000 for 2012 and $849,000 is shown for improvements in 2016 (PE-14012).
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm
More taxes if we as voters allow it. Financial priorities must be established. Sacrifices have to be made. We cannot continue to fund desired city services and functions at the expense of our basic, essential needs in public safety and infrastructure.
Posted by Fleur de Lis, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm
Marrol is right, we need to focus on public safety and infrastructure, yet so is Daniel about more animals getting killed.
We don't need to spend on Magical Bridge playgrounds or wider sidewalks on California Avenue. The budget needs to be looked at to cut out such things and in order to save the shelter, if there is money freed up by eliminating bloated salaries as is suggested. Yet, more important, public safety is vital. Look at what is happening in the Montclair District over in Oakland. People are getting burglarized blatantly there (and it is now happening here at an increased rate), with robbers counting on police officers in Oakland having a poor response time and its budget issues putting public safety at severe risk there. We don't want that here. Both sides have their points. It is a bit like Sophie's Choice in some ways.
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm
Whatever the sense of our civic responsibility is to provide a local animal service, it pales in comparison to the function of our emergency services, especially from the police department. It is crucial, considering the human aspects and nature of their work, for our police department to have greater ownership and fall under the auspices of our local government . Besides, they have already felt the brunt of personnel cutbacks and elimination of special assignments for several years now. PAPD is in the lower third of pay and compensation compared to other comparable size cities in the Bay Area as it is. We must have financial priorities, and if we're to outsource anything, animal services should be much higher on the list than the emergency services.
Posted by John, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 6:57 am
Of course the emergency service pay for compensation compared to other comparable size cities in the Bay Area is the result of whipsawing. They get paid more we should too, then go work there! No this is a land grab for a car dealer to set up shop alomg 101. Cities like Palo Alto provide services to the citizens, not to its employees and certainly not to provide land to businesses. See Hercules, CA.
Outsource all emergency services to the county. The previous comments are true, the employee unions are making it impossible to for the taxpayer to get service other than public service employees complaining how much they do and how little they are paid. Enough already.
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 8:18 am
The animal shelter should be kept open for many reason, but it's doubtful that outsourcing it to another county facility would be financially beneficial, which seems to be the sole reason for outsourcing. For example, dead pets will have to be picked up by an animal services employees from Sunnyvale or Santa Clara. That service would be very expensive. Even if the the pet owner is charged for it and not the city, (and what if the pet dies on a weekend or holiday, that would probably cost even more, or perhaps that service won't be available at all then), pet owners will find out that it's less expensive and much more convenient to have a local animal shelter. The city might have to pay pay extra for the pick up of stray animals, etc. The county facility would keep raising its fees, etc. It would probably end up costing us more and in the meantime many animals would be killed unecessarily and a humane and vital service would be foolishly outsourced without even a single financial benefit.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 9:59 am
Thanks Doug. Don't let the animals suffer due to the City's poor manage of money and its priorities. The City will spend and match funds for bicycle routes, tunnels, bridges and even trying to narrowing street lanes of California Ave (from the newspapers ads, which most oppose. Please not the animals...let's find a way to help our pets and animals in general. Palo Alto is becoming a selfish, cold City.
Posted by Voter, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 10:49 am
If we choose to have an animal shelter, outsource it to a private sector operator who will provide the service for market rate, without the gold-plated salaries and benefits that the current city workers are extracting from the taxpayers and their children.
I'd support paying for animal services, but not paying overcompensated bureaucrats to run it.
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 11:53 am
The heated discussion surrounding the closing of the animal shelter is just an early example of the sacrifices and cuts in services and programs that Palo Altans will have to face. Our city leaders and elected officials, as well as those calling for greater financial responsibility, should look at programs like the Children's Theater, and ask why public funds are being expended to support that activity. The city does not fund a myriad of other youth programs, and we should not be funding them either. Youth sports and other activities rely on fund raising and the participating families paying their own way. That is precisely what PACT should be doing, just like everyone else.
Posted by Jonah, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm
Jardins: I see that you are into this thing so deeply and I noticed that you really want to save PAAS and always on the defense regarding PAAS. We have heard about customers complaining about rude employees, disrespectful employee, a veterinarinan who makes $ 128K and we heard she does not even do the job she should be doing, and bad management at PAAS. Why DON'T you go To the Shelter and ask the manager why all these complaints! Because all these complaints have been around from many years and the nothing had done to improve them. I made two complaints to the manager before regarding PAAS employees, but it did not work, because the manager JUST like you are did not listen and did not care, because I did not see any improvement and the complaints are still going on. I would like the city keep PAAS running but not the way it is now.
Posted by Kathy, a resident of another community, on Apr 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm
I cannot remember how many pets I have had fixed at the Palo Alto Animal Shelter. In addition, I was a foster parent for animals at hte shelter years ago. The people there are consistantly caring and take great care of their animals. Please don't get rid of this fabulous facility. We need more shelters like this, not more car dealerships!
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm
Outsourcing is practically always a terrible idea. In other county shelters, many animals are put away immediately or after a few days and many animals are not considered fit for adoption and are rejected or destroyed. The last thing we need is a tacky car dealership in its place. There are many animal lovers in Palo Alto, many of whom are incredibly wealthy. It shouldn't be too difficult to raise the funds needed to build and run a modern facility. This is an extremely valuable service to the community and the alternatives are unacceptable. This shelter shouldn't be closed under any circumstances.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Apr 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm
What I see missing from this thread are cogent opinions & data on animal control & public safety. It may not seem like a big deal until it is. See the thread on unleashed dogs at Ramos Park & ignorant suggestions about calling the police when offleash dogs are seen. That's what animal control is for. Most ACOs will work w/people in a particular area when there are too many offleash dogs. When they're reasonsable officers like the Palo Alto ones they can make a real difference.
Cops notoriously don't want to deal w/animal-related issues & they rely on ACOs for expertise. Cops have even relied on me in the absence of ACOs - & an ACO is less likely to shoot your pet or an injured animal.
Whatever happens w/PAAS, Palo Alto will need knowledgeable ACOs to deal w/injured wildlife, dead animals & domestic animals, so it makes sense for all of you to consider those issues.
Posted by two sides, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm
The city will never give up the CT or the Zoo. From the 2012 operating budget:
“the City plays a direct role in providing programs, services and facilities for youth and teens so they may thrive. This is done in collaboration with the City Libraries and with support of Friends groups and Foundations. Examples include the variety of afterschool programs at the Palo Alto Teen Center, Children's Theatre, Junior Museum and Zoo, Art Center and Rinconada Pool. The City's capacity to provide programs, services and facilities for youth well being is dependent on community collaboration [read tax dollars] through the substantial support of Friends groups and Foundations. Supporting youth and teen programs and services, along with the respective Friends groups and Foundations, will be a priority for 2012. An exciting example of community collaboration may be seen in Mitchell Park, which will be Palo Alto's first playground accessible to people of all abilities and ages [Miracle Bridge].”
How much of the villagers' money does it take to raise a child?
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm
A dog off leash, in an area where it is illegal, should be captured by the regional ACO, then held for three days for the dog owner to pay a big fine to claim the dog. If the owner does not pay the fine, the dog is then euthanized. Dogs don't know the difference. Forget about adoption and appeals trials ...way too expensive! Pretty simple, really...and very fair to all sides.
Irresponisble pet owners need to be made responsible by the adults, and that means that they should not have pets, if they cannot afford to support them, responsibily, within the local rules.
It's difficult to believe that all of the animal services provided by the PAAS can not be provided locally, in the private sector. Public safety issues involved animals like cougars, or rattlesnakes, might require people who are tasked to deal with this sort of issue. However, when the cougar was cornered up a tree in Palo Alto a couple years ago, it was the police who were called to deal with the problem--which involved shooting the animal.
It would be interesting to have some good data as to how many of these dangerous animal calls the PAAS handles a year.
Posted by Kerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm
"Kerry, I wonder if you know the difference. You have exhibited in your posts the maturity level of a five years old and zero compassion for animals and their owners."
That quote is very interesting. I see myself as the mature adult in this discussion. Palo Alto needs to save money, at every level that it can, yet those who dissolve into an emotional puddle over their pets, claim the high ground. I say no! Pet owners are very selfish, in general, and I am calling them out.
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm
@ Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 1 hour ago:
Your links for animal services in Palo Alto and Menlo Park are for private veterinary businesses that charge considerably more than PAAS does. Many people who go to PAAS have vouchers from Palo Alto Humane Society so that they can get their pets--or strays they pick up in cages without traps--neutered or spayed at a lower cost. PAAS does between 30 and 40 of these procedures each "surgery day," I have been told.
Posted by Marrol, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm
Daniel, you refer to the wealthy Palo Alto residents, many of whom are pet owners. You also suggest that based on that it should not be too difficult to raise the funds required to update and run an animal services facility. If that's the case, as you claim, then you and others should raise private funds to off-set the anticipated loss to the tax payers. I would gladly support keeping a local shelter operating if with private donations it could be run for the same or less cost than outsourcing. Personally I believe this is a much taller order than you expect.
Furthermore, I remind you that just because someone disagrees with your position and calls for greater fiscal responsibility, it does not automatically make them uncaring toward pets and other animals. This is not an all or nothing proposition. The city is still going to provide what I'm sure will be more than adequate animal care and services. We just cannot afford to continue to run our own facility. Please consider the big picture here. The city is in dire financial straits and has to overcome annual budget deficits. Many cuts and sacrifices have been made across the board in city services, even in the vital areas of public safety and infrastructure. There will be many more to come I'm very sure, and if we can adequately outsource a service that will save tax payers millions of dollars then so be it. Tough times call for tough decisions, and I'm afraid that no one is going to avoid feeling the sting at some point.
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm
Kerry, you are right. The maturity level you have exhibited here is that of a 3 year old, not a 5 year old. Your attitude toward pets and their owners and the casual manner in which you recommend euthanasia for animals reminds me of the Gregory Peck character in the Boys from Brazil movie. I suggestthat your feelings of superiority over animals are highly unrealistic. Anybody who thinks Palo Alto will save money by outsourcing the service is deliberately naive. Enough said.
Posted by Concerned, a resident of another community, on Apr 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm
Posted by Jonah, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, 6 hours ago
"We have heard about customers complaining about rude employees, disrespectful employee, a veterinarinan who makes $ 128K and we heard she does not even do the job she should be doing, and bad management at PAAS."
Jonah... Please write to the veterinarian's supervisor: SANDI STADLER; and please copy furnish it to Sandi's supervisor Dennis Burns. I am pretty sure all of these will fall on to deaf ears!!! An outside source should audit / investigate what the veterinarian does after 5:30 pm when the shelter closes.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Apr 9, 2012 at 9:20 pm
Marrol - it's nice that people think some of the local deep pockets could be a way to save the shelter. But as it stands, under the auspices of the police dept., it can't happen. Hopefully, those who will work to keep the shelter open will get advice on how to get PAAS out from under police control & put into a position where it can be properly funded.
I have been, & continue to be, generally proud of how well animals are treated by authorities on the peninsula. I hope that PAAS can keep up the good work or an authority who takes it over is just as good w/rescue groups, pet owners & out in the field. While I think the office staff treatment of others has gone down hill in recent years, this is easily fixable. I saw PHS do it & it's a much larger organization.
Posted by Ben, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2012 at 9:54 am
To Concerned and Jonah: I am a manager and I have been managing 159 employees for the last five years. I have been always looking up for my employees but also the most important for my customers. Just one unhappy customers is not good, cause one turns into two, three and goes on. PAAS manager SANDRA STADLER only has what 10-15 employees to manager and after reading all the complaints about PAAS' employees, it tells me two things, SANDRA STADLER does not have the qualifications to be a manager or she does not care for what customers has to say. All these complainings have been going for many years! Also someone posted that couple years ago complaints were sent to SANDRA STADLER regarding PAAS bad customers services but she did not do anything about it. Now if someone call or walk into my business and make a complaint about one of my employees, I will address the situation right the way. I hope things go well for PAAS and if the city decides to keep PAAS open and perhaps a new manager should be hire.
Posted by Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2012 at 10:30 am
> Your links for animal services in Palo Alto and Menlo Park are
> for private veterinary businesses that charge considerably more
> than PAAS does.
If that so--welcome to the real world. The difference in costs are the subsidies that you fell you have a right to gouge out of your neighbors, who are not pet owners. Why? Why should you be provided subsidized, or perhaps even free, services for your pets.
Of the underlying issues here are people who believe that they have a right to "tap" other people's money and time by using the taxing authority of government. It is immoral, and leads to ever increasing reach of government--that undercuts the basis of our living in a free society.
If you want a pet--fine. Take care of your pet, and don't expect me to have to pay, in any way, for its upkeep, or care. Why can't you be a good neighbor, and do that?
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2012 at 11:16 am
Outsource-Them-Al:so according to your logic, if I don't drive a car, you have no right to use my money for roads maintenance and repair. And if I have no kids, you don't have a right to gauge me out via-a-vis schools. I don't want one dollar of my taxes to go to public schools which I don't use. Let's see, since I don't use the city parks, don't expect me to pay for their upkeep. Since I don't use the athletic fields, not one penny out of my pocket for their upkeep. Lets keep going-since I'm against an imperial military and aggressive wars, I don't want one dollar of my taxes to go to the military budget. If you want schools, good roads to drive on, city parks, athletic fields, a large military, etc, don't expect me to have to pay, in any way for it, or care. Why can't you be a good neighbor and keep your hands out of my pocket?
Posted by Outsource-Them-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2012 at 11:24 am
> if I don't drive a car, you have no right to use my money
> for roads maintenance
Your "logic" fails to run "straight and true". Roads are used by everyone. Even if I don't happen to own a car, then it's rather likely that I use public transport, or a bicycle, or even cabs--all of which use the roads. I also buy from stores that are supplied by trucks using the roads. So--of course I want to fund my "fair share" of the public infrastructure, including roads.
But when it comes to your pets--only you benefit. It's pretty much the same argument about having a public subsidy for your children to attend a summer camp, or to expect us to pay in some indirect way for your vacations. Same goes for your food, housing, and other forms of entertainment.
Your "logic" is, in fact, "ill-logic", at best--greed at worst!
What is so hard for you to understand about "yours" and "mine"?
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm
Again, you are very comfortable taking my money for things you agree with. I don't need nearly the kind of road maintenance you need if I don't drive a car. That would benefit you but not me. Same goes for schools if I don't have children attending them. I don't want to pay for the wars you support and for the military size that you support but that I think should be a fraction of the size it is. But you would be screaming bloody murder If I insisted on withholding my tax dollars from projects and things you want and like. For your information, all the services provided by Animal Services are not free, their services have fees associated with them. They also benefit the entire community:stray dogs are picked up immediately upon report, dead pets are picked up and disposed of quickly, Animal Services officers who witness off leash dogs in public or are called to deal with them will issue a warning or citation to the owners, etc. And where did you get the idea that I would ever expect you to subsidies my vacations, where do you even come up with all the absurdities so common to your postings?
Posted by admin, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm
flatten the cities management structure. why cut services when you can cut administration costs instead. All the high salaries are useless administrators adminstrating other administrators who adminstrate their own raises.
Cut out the administration and keep the services. Existing services might even improve.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm
The city could outsource Police, Animal Services, Utility services. Instead Palo Alto having their own Police force the city could hire Santa Clara Sheriff, it would cost much cheaper for the city. Utility Services to PG&E and Animal Services to County Animal Services.
Posted by sandra skolnik, a resident of Mountain View, on Apr 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm
Has anyone checked to see what salary and pension the City Manager is receiving? What does the city manager do. Perhaps being a bean counter is not sufficient when it comes to the reality of people and animals that will be adversely affected by such a move.
It is shameful that one of the richest cities in the South Bay should so shabbily treat its animals. It is unethical to abandon PAAS, the community and its animals, and put up a car dealership. How ethical is that?
"A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help."