Animal Commission | City Council to Discuss Future at Next Meeting

The five member commission typically holds six meetings annually, but has not been active for over a year

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | City Council South Pasadena (L-R): Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti, Mayor Diana Mahmud, Councilmember Jack Donovan

The South Pasadena City Council on Wednesday will take on the controversial subject of the future of its moribund Animal Commission. Staff has not made a recommendation, but is looking for guidance from the Council. A proposal to disband the commission was made in January but the topic was delayed until this month to give the new city manager an opportunity to review the matter.

The possibilities are on the table:

1) retain the commission;

2) disband it and delegate its duties along the lines of an outline provided by staff; or

3) disband and form an ad hoc advisory commission to be called upon when an animal issue arises.

In ruminating on the matter, the city manager met individually with commissioner and former commissioner Betty Emirhanian and Erin Fleming. If the commission’s duties are reallocated, they would be split among the police and community services departments, and the public safety, youth and parks and recreation commissions, according to the staff report.

The five member commission holds six meetings a year and its members are appointed for three-year terms. But it has not met since March 2020, just before the pandemic began. Only two members — Eavie Porter and Macros Holguin — are currently serving and no new applications for appointments have been received.

But before disband, the commission did complete a 2020 work plan, which included examination of dog park restrictions, public awareness of wildlife interactions, coyote and peafowl management and a “be kind to animals” event.

“The Animal Commission’s primary role is to advise the City Council on all matters concerning animals, keep track of animal services that exist or may be needed and interpret the concerns of the public to the City,” staff wrote in the report.

“The Commission cooperates with other governmental agencies and civic groups in the advancement of sound animal planning and programming. It provides a conduit for public comment and awareness for residents to communicate their concerns related to animal [issues]. The Commission has been a resource to the community, providing information and educational material to city residents, including on living with wildlife and vector control. The Commission has sponsored lectures, art contests for local children and other activities that help celebrate the diversity of natural life. The Commission has assisted City staff in researching various animal related issues and recommended the adoption of policies and ordinances to the City Council.”

The Council will take up the matter late during its Sept. 15 meeting, which begins at 7:00 pm.

 

 

Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle. He and his wife Karin, an arts administrator from El Sereno, live in South Pasadena.