Kern County supervisors have settled on a new animal shelter site.
They voted Tuesday to lease a 2.75-acre Fruitvale Avenue industrial property that was determined to be the best, cheapest and most flexible option.
County staff have already ordered new, movable kennels, made plans to move major mobile buildings from the current shelter on South Mount Vernon Avenue to the new site and are attacking the improvements needed to get the shelter up and running by Oct. 1.
"This is really just the first step,” said Jeff Frapwell, head of the county General Services Division. “The next step is, in the next three weeks, to make this happen.”
The county will pay $120,000 a year to lease the property and the three buildings on it, with annual increases in rent of no more than 3 percent.
The five-year agreement can be terminated after three years, with 120-days notice, and the county will have the option to buy the land after five years.
Frapwell said the site was the cheapest option.
The three buildings, where dogs and cats will be kenneled and public intake and services will be provided, are big enough to meet the county's needs, he said.
Other properties, Frapwell said, would have required the county to pour more concrete slabs and purchase tent structures to house the animals.
But what was perhaps more important was that the agreement gave the county the most flexibility in planning its future.
"That's what tipped the balance," Frapwell said.
Kern County, he said, simply doesn't know yet what the best model for sheltering animals is, what that will cost or what kind of property the county needs to make that happen.
Well-known animal shelter architect George Meier has just delivered a design to Kern County for a new animal shelter.
And the Kern County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed Animal Control to look into outsourcing its shelter operations to a private business or nonprofit.
But the lease agreement doesn't truly ease the county's frenetic timeline to leave Mount Vernon Avenue.
"We are not nearly home yet," said Supervisor Mike Maggard.
The city of Bakersfield has directed the county to vacate the premises by Sept. 30 — or continue to take city animals without compensation through December.
Assistant to the City Manager Steve Teglia said the city remained open to negotiating the terms of that extension.