Berkeley Finds Likely Animal Shelter Site

By Judith Scherr
Thursday July 03, 2008 - 09:55:00 AM

After searching for almost six years for a new animal shelter site—one large enough for the animals and where barking dogs won’t raise the ire of sleeping neighbors—it looks like the city has found the right location. 

The council voted Monday evening 8-0 in closed session, with Councilmember Darryl Moore absent, to take the first steps toward the purchase of 1 Bolivar Drive, listed by MRE Commercial Real Estate as an 18,800 square-foot property for sale at $1.9 million. 

“I’m quite pleased,” Councilmember Betty Olds told the Planet. Along with Councilmember Dona Spring, Olds had been on a committee to search for a location for the new shelter. “We’ve been disappointed time after time,” she said. 

Citizens voted for Measure I in 2002 to tax themselves to pay for a $7.2 million bond, but since a site was not found, the levy was not collected. The first assessment will be in 2009. A homeowner with a parcel assessed at $300,000 will be billed $11.72 for the bond, about $4 per $100,000 of assessed value. 

The cost for the land and a new building is estimated at $9.5 million. Sale of the current animal shelter and $1 million from the city’s general fund will make up the difference, according to Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, the city’s public information officer. 

The property is located at the foot of Addison Street, adjacent to the I-80 University Avenue freeway exit ramp and Aquatic Park.  

Olds said she thinks if all goes well, demolition of the existing building could take place in the spring. If toxins are found on the property at that time, the previous owner has agreed to pay any cleanup costs, she said. 

The new building will have a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating, Olds said, adding that a nonprofit will have to be formed to fundraise to furnish the new building, as the city is permitted to use the bond money only for the structure. 

“The new building has got to be good looking,” Olds said, pointing out that it will be the first Berkeley site people see coming from Interstate 80. The city is beginning the process to select an architect.