Following a year of internal analysis, including discussions with other San Gabriel Valley cities, Pasadena’s Public Safety Committee voted 3-1 to approve a Public Health Department recommendation for a five-year $8.52 million contract renewal with Pasadena Humane for its services.
Mayor Victor Gordo, Councilmember Steve Madison, and Councilmember John Kennedy voted in favor of the recommendation, while Councilmember Tyron Hampton voted “no.”
City Manager Steve Mermell detailed to the committee, in 2019, the city of Pasadena and other neighboring cities were confronted with a “significant contract increase” in the cost of services provided by Pasadena Humane.
The new contract cost was 57% above the previous year’s cost, rising from $1.25 million to $1.96 million.
“This prompted us to have some serious conversations with the Humane Society, as well as explore some other potential options that may be available for us for animal control,” Mermell said.
According to a Department of Public Health presentation from Deputy Director Manuel Carmona, Pasadena — along with Arcadia, Bradbury, La Cañada Flintridge, San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena — negotiated a one-year bridge contract in 2020, and undertook an analysis feasibility study to find other options rather than renewing with the Humane Society at the increased contract rate.
Meanwhile, the cities discussed several options in the face of the new contract, including forming a new Joint Powers Authority (JPA) for animal services, contracting with the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC), contracting with the City of Los Angeles for Animal Control, developing a city program to deliver animal services, or continuing to contract with the Pasadena Humane Society, which was established in Pasadena in 1904.
Each option presented a series of obstacles. As examples, the JPA model would adversely affect personnel costs, according to the study by Citygate Associates. Contracting with LA County would involve building a new DACC facility in the San Gabriel Valley, which would range in cost from $44.2 million to $49.6 million.
Contracting with the City of LA Department of Animal Services would create logistics issues in delivering services, and developing a mechanism for providing City-delivered services in Pasadena would also run into prohibitive costs.
Eventually, Pasadena and neighboring cities negotiated a five-year contract with the first year equal to the current contract, minus the value of licensing revenues retained by the cities in 2020. The contract price would increase by three percent each year of the contract.
But councilmember Tyron Hampton, admittedly unfamiliar with the work of the Humane Society, told the committee, “Overall I am supportive, only because I don’t know what the options are … and because I don’t really know what the Humane Society does.”
Hampton told the committee he was “supportive of the idea of this,” but added, “I would do a year-to-year (contract) until myself and probably other council members who want to, have a better understanding.”
At one point, Hampton suggested that the various local independent dog care facilities in Pasadena could collectively do the work of the Humane Society.
Councilmember John Kennedy then asked, in light of Hampton’s comments, that there should be a way to “just simply check in on an annual basis as an audit function, and have the ability to have an ‘out’ if there any extraordinary problems in the administration of the five-year contract, because I’d like to strike a balance.”
City Manager Mermell assured Kennedy that the contract would have a standard termination for convenience clause, so that at any time the city chose to terminate, it could, upon 30 days notice.
The recommendation will now be considered by the full City Council at Monday’s weekly meeting.