Kern County and the City of Bakersfield have reached an interim agreement on the issue of animal control. It's been nearly a year since supervisors voted to end their agreement with the city and go on their own because of cost sharing issues. That's not going to happen anymore, at least not all the way.
Both the county and the city want to stay at the current location, with some expansions and upgrades. The plan calls for them to share some spaces, but each would run their own shelters.
In a special meeting of the Animal Control committee, an architect explained how other cities have shared one property and run two animal shelters. That's the plan both the city and county have agreed to create at the Mount Vernon location.
"So, I think this is a way to move forward together," said District 2 Supervisor Zack Scrivner. "It's going to be logistically a one-stop location for the public."
The plan calls for the city, which owns the property, to make land available to the county to expand. The facility would have joint dropoff and adoption areas, but there would be two seamless shelters, one operated and paid for by the county, the other by the city. But right now, only county workers run the facility.
"We would have to currently look at taking that responsibility on, on our own with additional staff, or perhaps look at other alternatives such as partnerships with the SPCA," said Steven Teglia, Assistant to the City Manager.
"But, this is basically saying we can't work together," said the chair of the meeting, Michael Yraceburn, who was concerned about the plan. He claimed a shared building can't bring differing sides together.
"Where people have different philosophies on those things, it becomes areas of friction," said Yraceburn.
But instead of bumping heads, there seemed to be a meeting of the minds, willing to share costs and ideas moving forward.
"We want this to be a pet resource center," said Jan Woodard, Director of Kern County Animal Control, of the future plans. "Come to dog training classes, to get information, to adopt. Really, it's just a place of happiness and a place for all things pets."
The city and county will work under a two-year interim agreement to create construction and contractual plans. They will meet again in a couple of months with more specifics of what they want to do.