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South L.A. animal shelter opening delayed, again

December 27, 2012|By Lisa Boone
  • A rendering of the new South L.A. animal shelter shows design concepts borrowed from the world of retail in hopes of "selling" more of its products: orphaned animals. It also incorporates new creature comforts, including heated floors and retractable awnings.
A rendering of the new South L.A. animal shelter shows design concepts borrowed… (Ra-Da )

In the months since we previewed the innovative new South Los Angeles Animal Care Center, the $9-million facility — which our original story said might open as early as July, and which later was scheduled to open in October — still has yet to welcome its first residents.

“There is not a firm date,” said Brenda Barnette, general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services. “We hope to move the third week in January.”

The design, by West Hollywood architect Rania Alomar, includes raised puppy kennels so animals are easier to see and more likely to be adopted, plus retractable roofs on the outdoor kennels, radiant floor heating and misters for added climate control.

Deborah Weintraub, deputy city engineer, declined an interview request and instead issued a statement citing “project refinements” that included additional perimeter lighting and modified kennel locks.

The original design called for door handles and locks on the outside of each kennel, with a square cut-out in the fence so a staff member or volunteer inside the kennel could reach around and open the door. Midway through the project, officials decided to add handles inside the kennels.

“We felt this was safer to keep the public from reaching into the runs and to allow the staff quick and easy egress from inside a run,” Barnette said by email.

“This is not unlike what happens in home construction when the owner reviews the punch list,” she said. “This is just a larger project than most homes.”

When asked to discuss the design challenges, architect Alomar declined to comment.

Barnette, who has been the target of criticism by Times columnist Sandy Banks, among others, said concerns about locks and lighting have been addressed. She cited unfilled animal care technician positions and the “need to make sure we have adequate staffing” as the reason why the facility hasn’t opened.

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