SLO County Animal shelter costs soar to $20 million

November 22, 2019


The cost of San Luis Obispo County’s animal shelter project has soared from more than $13 million to approximately $20 million, resulting in increases in the amount of funds individual cities must contribute. [New Times]

In 2015, the SLO County Board of Supervisors decided it would not be cost effective to make further investments in the county’s currently dilapidated animal shelter, which was constructed around 1975. County and city officials reached a cost-sharing agreement, which the cities of Atascadero and Paso Robles backed out of but later rejoined.

As part of the deal that lured the two North County cities back into the agreement, SLO County promised a $1 million discount on project costs.

But, the two bids the county recently received from contractors came in higher than expected. As a result, the county is asking all seven cities participating in the project to approve amendments to the cost-sharing agreement, which will raise their annual payments by about 50 percent.

Under the agreement, the cities that have the highest demand for animal services pay the most. Paso Robles has the highest share of the project cost among cities, followed by Atascadero and San Luis Obispo.

The Paso Robles City Council approved the increase to its share of the project cost at its Nov. 5 meeting. The city’s annual portion of the project cost will now increase by $61,816, from $139,097 to $200,913, according to a city staff report.

Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin said it is no longer cost-effective to look for an alternative to the county animal shelter project.

Officials attribute the project cost increase to high demand statewide for design and construction of infrastructure projects, as well as a labor shortage and tariffs on building materials. Also, the county discovered the site of the project, which is near the current shelter off of Highway 1 on Oklahoma Road, has the same soil stability issues that have plagued the existing facility.


The county property on Oklahoma Avenue was part of the old Camp SLO dump from the WW II years. The land is less than suitable for construction due to that factor and the high water table. The costs to build on vacant sites at that location requires concrete casements that drive up the costs. Add to this the tremendous overhead of having county public works managing the project, which usually leads to long delays for studies that are needed to justify the existence of the planners at PWs and you can easily spend two or three times what it would cost if the county were to cut out PW department and simply have a private builder build to suit at another location.

Better still, lease a suitable site at a lower cost per square foot than it would cost to build. A lot of builders would buy the land and built the shelter to meet the county’s needs if they knew they were getting a 20 year lease out of the deal. Also, maintenance on the building would be handled by the landlord and not county public works, which has a whole staff on salary dedicated to assessing maintenance needs and costs.


In other words, any time the government is involved taxpayers are taken for a ride.


If most of the use is by north county cities, why isn’t the facility in the north county? It would reduce operating costs by reducing travel time and land is less expensive. Maybe one of the cities could donate a site in lieu of cash.


I’m unfamiliar with the soil issues. Surely modern engineering can overcome this (Probably) widespread problem? Without being 400% more in the end?


An associate of mine who works at SLO County General Services informed me that one of the bidding contractors was Tutor Perini Inc.? You know, the contractor who is building California’s beloved high-speed rail system that will link the metropolis of Madera with the global financial hub of Fresno at a cost of about $35 million per mile (thus eliminating the need for the 100’s of daily greenhouse gas emitting commercial airline flights between these two cities). I’m all for giving them the contract, seeing as their work on the HSR is right in step with many of the future achievement goals listed in the “Green New Deal.” Besides, Diane Feinstein isn’t getting any younger. Time for her and her husband Richard Blum (a major shareholder of Tutor Perini) to seal up another multi-million dollar government contract so that they can retire “modestly” like the new self-proclaimed millionaire Bernie Sanders and the rest of us “99%.”


Are you kidding me? A $20 million dollar building for animals? Really? There is something seriously wrong here. All you need is a large concrete pad with fencing and gates, painted plywood shelters,and a common building for staff and supplies. I would much rather see that kind of tax money spent on families and certain individuals that are homeless along with programs to help them. I guess that would take common sense and put human life higher than animals. Just a thought.


The real reason the prices go up is so Adam Hill and his cronies can be paid out. Inflation simply doesn’t EVER go up as much as our prices in this County do. The padding is payola.


Bank the money, continue to deal with the existing facility, and build when there’s a recession or the red-hot construction industry cools down. The County/Cities save money and provide good-paying construction jobs when they’re more needed.


Time to cut bait before 13 million becomes 20 million before reaching 30 million by project closeout?

Francesca Bolognini

I know this sounds crazy, but how about we entertain a few other bids, make sure that the bids we have are solid and perhaps, (I know this is a stretch here), consider a site that is not already known to be “plagued” with problems that will not go away. Seriously. This is a known factor that will only cause problems to the more expensive building down the line.

Were people more responsible for the lives of other creatures in the first place, this expense would be far smaller. Perhaps rethinking how we interact with the rest of our world might create some improvement. We always ending up paying, one way or another. How we treat animals is a reflection of how we treat other human beings as well. Calling them “animals” is one way of dehumanizing them for license to abuse/kill. Something to think about, especially at this time of year when we espouse “brotherly love” and “peace on earth”. Namaste.


I’m quite sure that every contractor who was capable and willing to even consider this project has cast a bid. You can’t just reopen bids, or hold them open indefinitely until someone comes in with a price that we all agree to. The excessive documentation, bureaucratic and regulatory bullsh*t required to do business with government in this state, attracts only a few contractors who even bother to mess with it. For achieving such a feat, the charge handsomely to ensure their ass is covered. The documentation required for just the labor alone requires highly specialized HR and payroll people who are specially trained to handle labor relations and documentation unique to doing business within the state of California.

I know this, because back in 2011 I wrote a bid for a project being completed by a local non-profit using a combination of Federal and State grant funding. The original project was expected to cost just shy of $100k. The project didn’t materialize until 2013, and in that two years new California state regulations, requirements, and red tape required us to hire a professional (from Minnesota) to rewrite the bid. The cost of the project (mind you, just two years later) was now projected to cost $210,000. The non-profit had to raise the additional $110k that the increased regulation had inflated the project to in just a couple of years.

Long story short. Any self-respecting company that dares to do business with the Socialist Republic of California knows damn well that a government project estimated to cost $13 million, will probably end up costing $20 million. So they bid accordingly. Also, because America’s economy is so strong right now (thank you Papa Trump), there are far fewer contractors who have the need to deal with California’s Socialist policies that are just too punitive and inconsistent for a contractor to low-ball on.


Papa Trump? Really? Well thank you for putting him the same rightful context of those like François “Papa Doc” Duvalier…

What’s next? “Fearless Leader”? “His Highness”? “Premier”? “Führer“?

Better yet? How ’bout “inmate”?