http://paloaltoonline.com/square/print/2012/04/20/residents-gear-up-to-save-palo-alto-animal-shelter


Town Square

Residents gear up to save Palo Alto animal shelter

Original post made on Apr 20, 2012

Vowing not to let the City of Palo Alto shutter its animal services center, residents and animal advocates are mounting an effort to keep the shelter open, with all of the markings of a political campaign.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 20, 2012, 8:27 AM

Comments

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Posted by myhometoo
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 20, 2012 at 7:42 am

The existing shelter is out of date and needs to be totally modernized.
Seems smart to centralize. Try visiting the new facility in Milpitas, see how animals deserve to be treated, the facility here is almost cruel by comparison.If you honestly love animals this move is a no brainer.


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Posted by fundraiser
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 20, 2012 at 10:07 am

People who want to keep the shelter should hold fundraisers to pay for it. Don't beg for taxpayer handouts. $450K divided by 250 signatures is not that much money per person.


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Posted by Member
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

The budget for the animal shelter is small considering the overall city budget. Frankly, given that Animal Services has operated so outstandingly over the years within budget is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the staff (including the many loyal volunteers). Granted it is an older shelter, could benefit from some upgrades, but it is very well maintained and the animals are well cared for.

To outsource animal services to a facility far from our city would definitely create hardship for residents. The proposed site is miles from here, very inconveniently located. One has to also wonder if the proposed site is set up to handle a sudden major increase in the number of animals it will have to accommodate.

Closing the shelter is not the solution to the city's money woes.


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Posted by Retired Staffer
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

Interesting. We are told that the Palo Alto electorate is demanding the outsourcing of services and when the opportunity arises that same electorate fights outsourcing. Hmmmmm.


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Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 20, 2012 at 10:57 am

<<Posted by fundraiser, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, 43 minutes ago

People who want to keep the shelter should hold fundraisers to pay for it. Don't beg for taxpayer handouts. $450K divided by 250 signatures is not that much money per person.>>

I think that all those consultants' studies should be paid for by fundraisers and not taxpayer dollars. The function of government is to SERVE the people (and in this case, their pets)

As for the shelter not being "modern" enough, don't be so impressed by the fact that the HSSV shelter houses its animals in rooms that are nicer than your kid's college dorm room. The animals actually don't care, as long as the facility is clean and food and companionship are cared. It's not as if the animals are chained and fed road kill, day old bread, and restaurant grease.


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Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2012 at 10:58 am

1. The shelter and its staff have done a very good job
2. We no longer need the facility as better local options are available
3. The other options are close enough considering how rarely anyone will need to go there
4. Its too expensive to fix and run - its a complete waste of our money
5. In PA there is always some small group of very vocal people protesting against change ... we can't be constantly steamrollered by these kinds of people
6. If a group insists it stay open let them be responsible for its costs. Why should all PA taxpayers be forced to pay for something that is unnecessary and too expensive?
7. We need to cut costs and balance our budgets. No changes that move in that direction are too small. We should find as many as we can.


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Posted by Relocate shelter?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2012 at 10:58 am

Palo Alto purchased the land at the Los Altos Treatment Plan from Los Altos several years ago. This is located off San Antonio Road near the Baylands.

I suggest that those in favor keeping Animal Services in Palo Alto raise the money to build a new Animal Services facility at that location (and maybe for some of the costs of buying that land). Perhaps building a new facility will entice Mountain View to return and other communities to join.

It's probably cheaper to build a new, modern facility than to try to upgrade the old one in place while continuing operations.


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Posted by politics
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

the shelter is so much more than a disposable animal shelter, it provides "animal services" which includes so much more than just a "shelter", i remember calling them when i saw a sick animal in my yard and they came and rescued it and nursed it back to health! not only that the staff were personable and friendly!

hmmm, why not an across the board pay cut of the entire administrative staff, hmmm how many millions of dollars is that?


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Posted by bill g
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Thank you, Gethin. You've listed my thoughts exactly.


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Posted by rem
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm

rem is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]




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Posted by rem
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

rem is a registered user.

From another article "****closing the shelter and consider other uses for the land. ****"

Leave the Animal Shelter WHERE IT IS.

FIX it UP "as in" REPAIR< REPAIR REPAIR...

It is in a outstanding location...

DO NOT MOVE IT.


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Posted by scottie zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Gethin, you are misinformed.

Posted by Gethin, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 2 hours ago

<2. We no longer need the facility as better local options are available>

NOT TRUE: SVACA, in Santa Clara will NOT accept owner-surrendered pets. A family forced to surrender its 3-year-old dog to a shelter, expecting the shelter will find a new home for the dog, is out of luck. SVACA accepts owner-surrendered pets only for euthanasia, and charges the family $150 for putting their pet dog to sleep.

Meanwhile, Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV, in Milpitas) has a WAITING LIST of owners hoping to surrender a pet; for your pet to be eligible you have to fill out an application, make appointments, and appear for two interviews before they decide whether they'll accept your pet for adoption. If they DO accept, they charge $160 for a surrendered dog. I can't call that a "better local option" when PAAS accepts owner-surrendered pets for FREE and finds them new homes all the time.

<3. The other options are close enough considering how rarely anyone will need to go there>

Close is relative. 10-11 miles down 101 from Midtown to get to the SVACA shelter in Santa Clara. 16-18 miles and 30 minutes to get from Midtown to HSSV in Milpitas. To get to PAAS, I don't need any time on the freeway...

<4. Its too expensive to fix and run - its a complete waste of our money>

In 2009 the city refurbished PAAS, upgrading heating, air conditioning, constructing additional pens for agricultural or other "exotic" strays and surrenders, and so on. According to the city Director of Public Works, the facility has another good 20 years ahead of it. Nobody is talking about spending money again to refurbish again.

<5. In PA there is always some small group of very vocal people protesting against change ... we can't be constantly steamrollered by these kinds of people>

How about the "consultants" (?) that convinced the city to install traffic lights for left turns on Middlefield at Mayfield? New lanes drawn, curbs painted red, lights in place, all ready to go. Until a small vocal group objected strenuously and forced the city to remove left-turn lights, redraw traffic lanes, remove red paint. I wonder how much that cost? Those left-turn lights came and went in a few days! So my question is, who in city government approved the installation of left-turn lights without at least discussing it with the neighbors? What did that debacle to for our budget?

<6. If a group insists it stay open let them be responsible for its costs. Why should all PA taxpayers be forced to pay for something that is unnecessary and too expensive?>

Palo Alto taxpayers are a generous bunch, on the whole. Voting for Measure N for the libraries, voting YES on increased property taxes to support our schools. I don't have children, and I vote YES on school bond issues. It's part of the price we all pay to live in a town with the many benefits Palo Alto offers. On the other hand, the Save Our Shelter group is mostly asking the city to give us TIME to resolve the loss of $450,000 in income from Mountain View after Dec. 1, 2012. There are a number of income-generating options we are proposing. We still have income from Mountain View, so let's use the months ahead to work out solutions that satisfy all sides in this debate.

<7. We need to cut costs and balance our budgets. No changes that move in that direction are too small. We should find as many as we can.>

One cost I'd like to understand is how much did City Manager James Keene spend on a nation-wide search for an "urban forestry" manager? Then once the consultants went through arduous interviews with at least a dozen candidates, how much did we pay them? How much salary are we going to pay the new Urban Forester? How much money to pay for his relocation from Texas to Palo Alto? Are we subsidizing his housing? Why was it necessary to go so far afield? Don't we have urban forestry people here already who've been doing a fine job? I could give more examples of strange expenditures, but I won't. The Palo Alto Animal Shelter is already here. It works. It serves a wide community inside and outside Palo Alto. I vote to keep it.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

<< Posted by Retired Staffer: Interesting. We are told that the Palo Alto electorate is demanding the outsourcing of service ...>>

False. People is pushing for more _efficiency_ and better prioritization of services. Yes, some people do (falsely) equate outsourcing with efficiency (whereas it often involves cost- and service-reduction, not improvement in value).

Many staff members operate in a bubble where the people they encounter are not typical Palo Altans. For example, in trying to deal with improving the retail environment, a constant statement from staff is that Palo Altans don't want big-box retail, neither new nor existing (Fry's).


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

On many of the arguments against the PAAS:
1. Simply stating that it is too expensive is not an argument, but simply a personal statement, possibility repeating an assertion from someone who has a hidden agenda (eg simplest way to get the site for a car dealership) or who doesn't have a factual basis for the judgement. At this point, I haven't seen the information that would allow residents to make a judgement one way or the other on this issue.

2. The argument that these services are unimportant to you and consequently unimportant to Palo Alto is pure narcissism. For example, I live in one of Palo Alto's safest neighborhoods and haven't needed the services of the police in 20 years, but I would never argue that the level of police services should be cut to match the level of my individual perceived need.

3. Cost vs value. Don't falsely characterize out-source as simply a cost-saving measure. As many other posters in this thread and previous ones have pointed out, it also represents a substantial reduction in service. Arguments should be stated in terms of value provided -- even though that involves individual judgements and differing priorities, arguing over costs is far more misleading.


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Posted by Chris
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Regarding the Santa Clara shelter: my few experiences with them were horrifying. In one case, they said a cat would be held a certain time before euthanizing, but when the owner went there within the time, they had already done it. My experiences with PA shelter (spaying a homeless cat before placing with a friend) could not have been better. The more consolidated the centers are, the Less care they can give the animals, the less time they can expend time for each animal, the faster they would want to get rid of them.


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Posted by Assertion-Is-Not-Proof
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

> 3. Cost vs value. Don't falsely characterize
> out-source as simply a cost-saving measure.

Cost is something that can be documented, and compared with other service providers.

Value is qualitative, not quantitative, and can not be easily compared across service providers except on a personal basis.

> Simply stating that it is too expensive is not an argument

Of course it is an argument. It would help to add some "meat" to the argument, but providing alternatives that are less expensive.

> some people do (falsely) equate outsourcing with efficiency
> (whereas it often involves cost- and service-reduction, not
> improvement in value).

Assertion is not proof. Claiming that all outsourcing results in a decrease in "value" is a gross generalization, and can not be proven except on a case-by-case basis. Without a comprehensive review of all of the providers being considered when an outsourcing of a government service to another government provider, or private sector provider, claims that value is lost can only be seen as a false assertion.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Neither Palo Alto nor the other cities that use our shelter are poor communities; what if we changed fees for services such as spaying and neutering to "Sliding Scale"? Those who can, could pay more, and those who can't would pay the current fee. There are enough people in town who might be willing to make a donation to the animal shelter in this way, especially if fees over a certain amount could be credited as an income tax write-off.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Another thought: We have Friends of the Library and Friends of the Children's Theatre--How about Friends of the Animal Shelter? People in Palo Altodonate to the San Mateo shelter; let's keep that money in town and SAVE OUR SHELTER.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Sandy - that's what I was thinking - a Friends of the Animals Shelter. BUT - I don't know if it can be done while under the umbrella of the PD. That would likely have to change, which begs the questions - who would oversee it & is there a budget for that & if not, how to create one?

Chris - this is nitpicky but important: I think your conclusions about consolidated shelters isn't totally accurate. The San Mateo County shelter is for the whole county, but they work hard to keep all adoptable animals that way - sometimes it means they're there for more than a year, even. It depends more on the shelter's philosophy. The Bill Bruce model in Canada has proven highly effective. If you're not aware of it, I encourage you to read up on it if you've the interest.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Great points, Scottie Zimmerman, thank you.

Sandy, a Friends of the Animal Shelter is a brilliant idea. I am very happy to contribute to a local cause that involves precious lives.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Great points, Scottie Zimmerman, thank you.

Sandy, a Friends of the Animal Shelter is a brilliant idea. I am very happy to contribute to a local cause that involves precious lives.


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Posted by Solon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Close the shelter as is, there is no service there that can not and will not be otherwise provided, if people pay for it.

A privately funded model, part kennel, part vet, part adoption and surrender service, part animal education, with market based fee for services, some funds by donation for those who can't pay ( I and many other would donate for sure!) .. .

HIDDEN VILLA would be location, with infra-structure, rural and agricultural ( and multicultural) mission , might be a good fit, they have been reshaping their mission.

One full time animal pick up person, could be done through police department, and do other duties when not needed, that way we keep one person who knows the town and its dogs, through the police department.

But one city can not do everything. Everything is not done best through government management, some things are. Probably not a dog kennel, etc.

We do have some fine volunteers and workers there, but our city is still going broke, with unlimited and undefined employee costs, pension rates, pension inflation adjustments, multiple pensions for one person, retiring as early as 50, unlimited health care (sic), Vallejo, the Post Office, even Hostess Bakery are going under due to PENSIONS.

Palo Alto could be bankrupt. Wealth is no defense to bankruptcy:

1. Many professional athletes go bankrupt.
2. I have heard majority of big lottery winners go bankrupt!
3. Most people who inherit significant sums have nothing left in two years. etc.

It is MANAGEMENT, JUDGEMENT, PRINCIPLES and PRUDENCE to prevent bankruptcy.

Do you think Palo Alto has these in adequate supply?


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Posted by LuvAnimals, Help Them
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2012 at 12:10 am

I just HOPE that the animals have a good chance to be adopted, and cared for well while they are waiting.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 21, 2012 at 12:55 am

During these highly difficult and challenging financial times somethings have to give. The animal shelter must be included on the list of services that need to be either eliminated, or in this case, outsourced. The city cannot continue to ignore the obligations we have to the truly essential civic needs that exist in the areas of infrastructure and public safety. These fundamental needs must be addressed, and it must be done without further tax increases.

The current shelter would require millions to upgrade. Not only would the city save those public dollars, but also the salaries and pensions we are currently paying out for a full staff. Bottom line, we can't afford it, at least not on the public dime. There are other very suitable options the city can explore in outsourcing these services. We are not abandoning providing animal services, nor should this move be viewed as being uncaring toward pets and their owners. It makes perfect sense in every way. I will work mightily to defeat the passing of any referendum that involves the city remaining in the animal services business.


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Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2012 at 9:24 am

Good to see you again, Marrol. (I still think you might be Asst. City Manager Pam Antil in disguise.)

You keep promoting falsehoods. "The current shelter would require millions to upgrade," is completely false. (I'll assume you're making an honest mistake.) The facility was upgraded in 2009, and the city has deemed it fit for another 20 years. It may not pass for a Hilton Hotel like some other regional shelters, but the animals are doing fine.

With all your fighting spirit, have you weighed in on the money already spent and still to be spent "narrowing" California Avenue? Is that your idea of an essential expenditure of taxpayer dollars?

How about the "consultants" (paid how many dollars?) to recommend improved signage and walkways in Rinconada Park? Is that project a valid use of taxpayer dollars in such dire financial times?

How about the money already spent for consultants and who knows what else (travel expenses, per diem, whatever) to find and recruit a new "urban forestry" manager? Do we need a NEW forestry manager so bad? Are we paying to relocate him from Texas to Palo Alto? What's his salary and retirement expected to be?

How about the left-turn debacle on Middlefield at Mayfield (in front of the Mitchell Park Library, still under construction)? Now you see it now you don't! Traffic lights installed for north & south directions on Middlefield, traffic lanes rearranged to allow for left-turn keys in both directions, parking along the curb cancelled. And then, poof! In a matter of days everything's gone as if it never happened. How much did all of that cost the city? Was that our city manager watching out for Palo Alto's taxpayers?

All I need to do is read the local papers to find example after example of profligacy when it comes to spending city funds. You say our budget is under stress. I don't doubt that for a minute. But there's no way you can blame it on the animal shelter or the hard-working city employees (and volunteers) who work there.


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

Can the outsourcing aficionados provide one example in which outsourcing has actually been a good idea? It's just a terrible idea concocted by the Chicago Boys of the morally and economically bankrupt Milton Friedman ideology.
The animal shelter is an essential service. Palo Alto will be poorer without it. Many animals will die unnecessarily if we shut it down. We don't charge anything for the unnecessary Palo Alto airport, now there is a service we don't need and should shut down. We could build a modern animal shelter facility on part of that land and use the rest in ways that bring in revenues. The talk of shutting the animal shelter down are silly and irresponsible and we should never let it happen.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2012 at 9:56 am

> Can the outsourcing aficionados provide one example in which
> outsourcing has actually been a good idea?

Are you kidding? Most of the world operates in an "outsourced" private sector. Costs and benefits are determined by the customer, who has the freedom to purchases, or not purchases, goods and services as he sees fit. Government sector services are more often than not priced at 150%-300% of equivalent services obtained from the private sector, when all of the employee benefits and deferred salaries (aka pensions) are considered.

Those countries where the private sector has been outlawed (like the Former Soviet Union, for instance) resulted in a very low quality of life for almost everyone—as there was no incentive for workers to produce high quality goods/services.

Where local government services are concerned, nothing delivered by the City could not be more cheaply delivered by the private sector, and the same/better quality.

So—when is saving money ever not a good idea?


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

I have weighed in on many of the examples you provide Scottie, but chose for the purpose of this article to stay focused on the specific topic. We should take a close look at eliminating many of the non-essential services and programs the city provides until we can tackle the budget issue. A balanced budget will not be achieved by simply outsourcing animal services, nor are they entirely to blame for the current financial mess we're in. However, outsourcing animal services along with the elimination of a myriad of other non-essential city expenditures will ultimately represent the solution. It will undoubtedly take sacrifices at many levels for us to achieve this goal. Bottom line, we have to stop spending wherever possible and not allow the special interests to shout down common sense and fiscal responsibility. Besides, the city would still fund what I'm sure will be a more than adequate animal service. We're not abandoning providing the service, just establishing a more cost effective way of getting the job done.

And I agree wholeheartedly with you on examples of unnecessary, frivolous spending on the city's part. With so many other needs in the critical areas of infrastructure and public safety, this was not the time for business district makeovers, hiring a forestry manager, building bike bridges, remodeling the golf course, erecting public art, and constructing new playgrounds. I have also questioned whether or not the city requires as many libraries as we have. Also, why does the city continue to use public funds to help support the Children's Theater? Why does the city allot a six figure contribution to fund homeless programs that serves very few people with any ties to our community?

If we are to dig ourselves out of this economic mess then we must set financial priorities and curb spending. Yes, sacrifices have to be made and certain conveniences will be gone, but it's all for the greater good.


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Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Each department in Palo Alto submitted budget cuts, and since the animal services and shelter are part of the Police Department, it has less impacts as reducing police officers. Chief Burns may have submitted a golden institution that would involk an emotional reaction with the animal lovers that the shelter services. With the city manager set on decisions, I doubt that it will be reversed without significant public support and fund raising. With crime rates up in the city, would you rather contract out animal control services or reduce police patrols? Sorry, but this is a no brainer.


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 22, 2012 at 9:03 am

It is utterly untrue that the private will deliver services provided by the the city government more cheaply. bringing up the USSR as an example of the superiority of capitalism is a phony and irrelevant boogeyman argument. The private sector has only motivation, which is profit and it will use any means necessary to maximize its profits. The best run and most cost effective health system in the US is Medicare. The US military outsourced many of its operations to private contractors and the cost to the tax payers was infinitesimally higher. The US military would have also done a much better job at a fraction of the cost. We saw in 2008 the value of unfettered capitalism. Caitalism is not our friend, it's the enemy.


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Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

Our City Manager, James Keene, and his cohort are hired/paid employees. Not elected. They don't dictate to the duly elected Mayor & City Council. When they take an irreversible action, such as cutting down all the trees on California Avenue, they make the City Council look inept and powerless, and they incite the righteous ire of tree-loving citizens.

From what I hear, the Police Chief was NOT informed of plans to close the shelter until AFTER the City Manager's agent, acting on his own, worked out an "agreement" with SVACA. PAAS has always been a valued part of the PAPD. In fact, PAAS has for a number of years been a valued resource for the Mtn. View Police Department.

Happy Earth Day Baylands park.


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Posted by zimbu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2012 at 10:49 am

> "Our City Manager, James Keene, and his cohort are hired/paid employees. Not elected. They don't dictate to the duly elected Mayor & City Council."

Oh, but they do. City staff hires consultants, puts plans in front of the council and council inevitably rubber stamps them. Consider the budget: Staff prepares it, the council "reviews" it for maybe a couple of hours and then signs off on it. The budget drives everything that happens in the city.

> "When they take an irreversible action, such as cutting down all the trees on California Avenue, they make the City Council look inept and powerless."

What you see is what we've got. Does the council ever demand investigations or demand that incompetent people be fired?

The people we elect don't do much of anything in the way of planning and providing policies and direction to the staff. They just declare Bicycle Days and National Preservation Months.


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Posted by comment
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

sounds like we're stuck with inept administrators that do nothing but sit around planning how to pave the baylands so that they can secure their pension using palo alto tax dollars, and the council can do nothing about it. as long as we keep paying them they're going to just keep planning on ways to put car dealerships in the baylands. i personally dont enjoy breathing all the smog, and all the extra noise and traffic when i'm walking there.


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Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 12:06 am

@ Marrol:

Will you go and protest at City Hall tomorrow night? According to Friday's Daily Post, the council's due to vote on a plan to spend over TWO MILLION DOLLARS on a makeover for El Camino Park.

So much for the (false) claim that as all departments are cutting their budgets so PAAS should be closed . . .


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2012 at 12:56 am

I have been equally as vocal about suspending non-essential upgrades to parks and many other city services and programs that fit that bill. There is a broad range of cuts and spending reductions that can be made across the board. I have not singled out the animal shelter in the least, so no point in singling me out as someone who is vilifying the animal shelter. I'm simply staying on the topic of this particular article. Besides, I have never once said that the city should stop funding for animal services or criticized the need. All I'm saying is that it would fiscally wise to outsource the service. There are adequate regional services we can utilize and save tax payers the cost of future upgrades to the facility, upkeep and maintenance, as well as the salaries and benefit packages of a working staff. We're in the middle of financial crisis. Sorry, but sacrifices have to be made. We simply can't afford it. Like with our own budgets at home, we have to set financial priorities and have the discipline and commitment to seeing it through.


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Posted by Sillly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:31 am

Please say more about the plans to protest the spending. Let's save the animal shelter and cut the rest.

I for one am absolutely appalled at this city. The Daily Post had a great article by Donna Diamond about our out-of-control spending, especially by our Utility Dept. It reported that we're going to get ANOTHER 31% increase in water rates on top of the 15% last year because we CONSERVED TOO MUCH.

The utility department is out of control. Their recent survey was out-of-touch with the issues of cost-containment. I pay them for cost-effective services, nothing else.

Diamond said the ONLY thing that's effective to to keep writing the City Council. Please do it.


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Posted by zimbu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:03 am

Council responds to people who show up at council meetings. Not sure they even read letters.


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Posted by tjhooker
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:28 am

Pets are just animals, lets treat them like accordingly.
The money saved by out sourcing can go to better use. Like paying our under paid city officials.


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

They do read the letters and forward them to the right dept. At least some council members do. The followup was mixed.

I wrote them complaining about sky-high utility bills when we were on vacation for half the month and had shut everything off.

I got a response from several council members who forwarded the letter to the utility dept. In it I suggested that be allowed to cut bills by suspending trash collection during vacations like we do with newspapers.

Someone replied that it was a good suggestion. I thanked them and asked why the staff hadn't considered. They said they were too close to the issue and would study it. Great.

Someone at the Utilities Dept. wrote me a long report complete with charts of my utility usage. They noted my conservation -- WHILE WE WERE ON VACATION AND THE HOUSE WAS EMPTY -- reduced my usage. DUH.

They also sent 2 utilities guys to check out a meter. The guys were great and someone was supposed to come back to check the deep puddles near the house that last longer than elsewhere. Storm drain problems? Still waiting.


Do it. Let them know we're not happy.


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Posted by If only the rescued pets could talk
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm

If only the voices of rescued pets could be part of this conversation. There are hundreds of animals rescued every year according the Animal Statistics table published on the City's Animals Services web page (Web Link)

The report from last year shows that 400 "healthy" pets were rescued and another 240 "treatable" animals were rescued. That's a lot of rescued pets and this is just a small part of the services provided by Animal rescue.

If you haven't looked at the full services offered by Animal Services: here is their website. It's very impressive.
Web Link

What happens to these cats and dogs if Animal Services gets outsourced? I foresee a lot more stray animals wandering our streets, more family pets who aren't rescued and who may die on the streets or be euthanized by Santa Clara or Milpitas humane societies because the owner didn't locate the pet in time. And these are just a few examples I can think of. Does anyone remember the feral cat problem Palo Alto had before the spay and neuter clinic, and general public education went into place? I'd rather not return there.

Where are the families whose pets have been rescued? *Speak up* because your pet cannot.

Yes there is a gap in the spending. However, so far the city has not been very thoughtful about alternatives, and that is what they should start with rather than the most drastic alternative first.


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Posted by zimbu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

> "Pets are just animals, "

Humans are "just" animals, too.


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Posted by John
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm

What "staff" wants is to get some tax generating business in the bay lands so they can keep their nice pay benefits and pension.

So what if it means moving the animal shelter.


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Posted by louise H
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2012 at 7:55 am

Marroll, I just find you annoying. The constant use of "we" and your sermon from the pulpit of your computer is just plain annoying. In my opinion, you are like a fly in the kitchen. I'd be willing to wager a small bet that you have no animals, and the constant mental meandering about what "we" should do is simply too much for my taste. I am not part of your "we."


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Posted by zimbu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2012 at 9:36 am

I find Marroll to be logical and thoughtful and appreciate his/her "sermons." Fiscal prudence is important and I understand the points he/she makes. And I do have animals. If PAAS was the ONLY thing the city could cut to save money, I would understand why closure is recommended. I do not go along with the closure because there are SO many other irrelevant "services" that should be cut first.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2012 at 10:47 am

This debate is no different that what is happening in many communities, counties, states and at the federal level.

No one wants more taxes - unless the increase is on someone else who makes more.

Everyone wants to cut expenses and programs, as long as it isn't their program or pet project.

Unfortunately the art of compromise has been lost along the way.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Do any of the commenters here actually have reasonable estimates as to how many animals might die, how many local residents suffer from PAAS being outsourced?

My experience tells me that getting PAAS out from under the aegis of the PD and given a chance to work toward profitability, even w/out making building improvements, is actually doable. Are efforts seriously being organized to this, or another similar end?


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm

And yet Louise I have never once attempted to discourage anyone from offering their opinion and weighing in on this or any other issue. That is what forums like this are all about. It's intolerant and counter productive to put someone down and resort to name calling just because you happen to disagree with them. If you find my thoughts annoying, then don't read my posts. Everyone should have the opportunity to express themselves assuming that they do so within the rules of the forum. I would encourage you to join the discussion and debate by offering your own opinions and providing a counter argument. There is nothing positive to gain by resorting to speculation and being dismissive.


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Posted by Ms. Valdez
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 25, 2012 at 11:55 am

I have had two dogs during the time I've lived in PA and PAAS has been a great help, and necessity. This shelter is needed, it's serves the community well by providing reduce cost and assistance. Palo Alto residents will lose these benefits by having to trek out to SClara or Milpitas, both of which DO NOT save animals and will not have the space to house the additional animals from Palo Alto...which will ultimately just mean more helpless homeless animals will be euthanized for LACK OF SPACE, PATIENCE AND FUNDING.

*Stepping down from my soap box*


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Today, two of my neighbors stopped to help a stray, injured dog in Palo Alto. They fed & watered her & waited patiently, almost catching her. They called PAAS when she was too skittish for them to catch. The dog took off & ultimately hid under a mobile home. The officers worked nonstop to catch her & ended up crawling under it and got her - this took quite awhile.

During this time, the officers interacted with a number of people in a very professional & friendly manner, even getting assistance from onlookers. This was a busy, stressful situation but they maintained their composure & upbeat the whole time, even when they emerged covered in dirt, leaves & cobwebs.

Apparently, this young pup was one of three who'd been running around & one of the officers had earlier caught the first dog.

I encouraged my neighbors to call PAPD & PAAS to express their appreciation, so I hope that they did.