Dog license fees to rise, other Berkeley Council decisions

Animal services head Kate O'Connor in front of the new animal shelter. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Animal services head Kate O’Connor in front of the new animal shelter. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Raised fees for a number of city services were agreed on Tuesday night by the City Council with relatively little debate and no public comments. Dog licenses will at least double: from $7.50 to $15 for a one-year altered dog licence and from $18 to $40 for a three-year altered dog license. Fees for animal adoptions from the city shelter are also going up.

Kate O’Connor, manager, Animal Care Services, said that her department estimated there were about 40,000 dogs in Berkeley. In FY12, 1,722 animal permits were issued (virtually all for dogs — she said only two cat licenses were issued). O’Connor’s estimate was that 20-25% of Berkeley’s dogs are licensed, which Councilmember Laurie Capitelli pointed out is probably an overestimate given the number of issued licenses. 

The current annual cost of processing animal licenses is $56,000. Even with the fee increases, the revenue from licenses will fall short of the cost by around $8,000.

A number of environmental health services fees were also agreed. Tattoo artists will face a $44 fee in FY13 rising to $85 in FY14. The city estimates $1,025 revenues from the fee. Home food businesses will face fees in FY14 of $170 for businesses that sell directly to the public and $425 for those that sell indirectly to the public. The two fees combines are estimated to produce $8,075 in revenues.

Marina boat berth fees are going up 6% for FY14. The special event parking fee at the marina will increase from $10 to $15.

A range of new development-related service fees was also agreed.

Parking in-lieu fees for the Downtown Plan Area did spark some discussion among council members. The fees are payable by developers if they do not provide the required number of parking places in their project. The fees will be $15,000 per space for the first five spaces, $20,000 per space for spaces 6-15, $25,000 per space for spaces 16-25, and $30,000 per space over that.

Council discussion focused on the need for more parking structures downtown. A number of council members expressed concern about the loss of hundreds of parking spaces near the downtown when the university begins construction on their new aquatic center.

“If we’re going to grow the downtown, we have to grow the parking to some extent,” Councilmember Gordon Wozniak said.

Mayor Tom Bates estimated that the cost of a new parking structure on Center St. would be $19.5 million.

Councilman Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Arreguin: “Send signals that we’re open to business.” Photo: Emilie Raguso

Councilmember Jesse Arreguín initiated a discussion about ways in which the city could encourage retailers to Berkeley’s downtown. Arreguín hoped some kind of pilot program might be included in the city’s work plan for the coming fiscal year.

“There are things we can do as a city that send signals to these retailers that we’re open to business,” Arreguín said.

He said certain types of retailers — furniture, electronics, clothing, sporting goods, books, and department stores — needed to be targeted to get a good mix downtown. Among his suggestions were having expedited priority processing of zoning, permits and design review for retailers in the target areas. The city could also assign a staff member in the permit office to shepherd through new retailers. Finally, Arreguín said the city should consider deferring permit fees for one year for targeted retailers.

Councilmember Darryl Moore supported Arreguín’s ideas, but questioned whether advantages should be confined to downtown.

“If we’re going to give out those kind of freebies to businesses we want to attract to downtown,” he said, “we should give them to businesses that we want on Adeline or Sacramento, too.”

Arreguín agreed that any program to attract new kinds of retailers should be available in any part of the city where there were too many vacant stores. Mayor Bates said the proposals were something city staff could look at with a view to having considering a pilot program next year.

Berkeley council looks to IT to transform city operations [05.22.13]
New aquatics center raises parking, planning concerns [04.13.13]
Pensions, infrastructure key Berkeley budget liabilities [02.20.13]
Berkeley General Fund revenues may fall short in 2012-13 [12.12.12]
Moody’s places Berkeley bonds under review
Unfunded liabilities prompt initiative, Council resolution [05.15.12]
Berkeley faces difficult path to funding pension liabilities [02.16.12]
Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz: The exit interview [11.30.11]
City workers make sacrifices, help alleviate budget crisis [06.16.11]
Layoffs, fee increases proposed for 2012 budget [05.03.11]
Berkeley city salaries track neighbors closely [03.16.11]
City budget faces $1.8 million mid-year shortfall [02.15.11]
Council faces tough decisions on unfunded liabilities [01.19.11]
Berkeley auditor report shows $310m benefit debt [01.10.11]
Some Berkeley city offices to close two days a month [06.23.10]
Mayor Bates on tackling city’s worst deficit in years [06.17.10]

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  • The_Sharkey

    The current annual cost of processing animal licenses is $56,000. Even
    with the fee increases, the revenue from licenses will fall short of the
    cost by around $8,000.

    With microchipping becoming the norm, traditional licensing seems kind of pointless.
    Why not either raise the fees enough to completely cover the program, or just do away with it entirely?

  • Chris

    Agreed entirely. Or, at the very least, raise the fees to cover the cost of the program. Sheesh!

  • Fran Haselsteiner

    The idea behind dog licenses is to ensure that the animal’s rabies vaccination is up to date, while microchipping is simply for identification. The deficit is due to noncompliance with the licensing ordinance.

  • The_Sharkey

    Ah, thanks for the information.

    I’ve had a couple dogs and cats during my time in Berkeley (even got a couple from the Animal Shelter) and didn’t know that we were supposed to have them licensed with the city. Does BPD or anyone else actually go around and ticket people for having unlicensed pets?

  • FiatSlug

    Animal Control is responsible for responding to calls about dogs (and other animals) that pose a problem.

    A few years ago, we had a bat that was on a balcony at our home. We thought it was moving strangely and should have been hanging out somewhere else during the daylight.

    Animal Control came to the house, examined the bat carefully, and took it away for testing. We soon learned that the bat had been rabid. Every house in our neighborhood also received a flyer indicating that a rabid bat had been found in the area and that if the reader came across an animal that was acting strangely not to approach it. Rabies is a killer disease. Dogs should be vaccinated for rabies so that the possibility of transmission to humans is either greatly reduced or eliminated. Rabies deaths are very rare, indeed. In the 1990s, 1 or 2 rabies deaths per year have been reported. Rabies is found mostly in wildlife, and then mostly in bats and wild carnivores.

  • Fran Haselsteiner

    Thanks for this. As I understand it, rabies shots for humans are extremely painful.

  • franhaselsteiner

    If my info is correct, if your pet is injured and is licensed, the city will take it for treatment. That’s a big plus for licensing.

  • TN

    There’s probably more than one reason that there are so many dog license scofflaws.

    Until this year, a dog owner couldn’t pay for a dog license at the Animal Shelter. While the Animal Control staff are in charge of enforcement of licensing rules, the actual licensing and payment was handled by the City’s financial office which handles payments for parking tickets, business licenses, etc. Not only was it confusing and inconvenient, the staff at the Center Street office knew nothing about some of the health issues around vaccinations and why a dog might be off schedule. Expertise in parking fines doesn’t carry over to expertise about dogs’ health.

    Now we can pay for our dog licenses where it makes sense and where the staff is a lot more knowledgeable.

  • Guest

    Confusing and inconvenient should be the Berkeley city motto.

  • Dan_James

    I’ve never heard the city will take a dog for treatment, licensed or not. May I ask your source for this information?

  • Dan_James

    When dogs get older, vaccinations are dangerous to their health. The law doesn’t allow positive titer tests for rabies to preclude the mandate for vaccination, therefore, many people concerned about the health of their pets do not get their dogs licensed. Even in younger dogs there are many incidents of vaccinosis that effect pets’ health negatively.

  • Dan_James

    Not sure that’s accurate now.

  • Dan_James

    I wonder if they are including in the calculation the revenue from inflated ticket prices charged if your dog is unlicensed? If your dog wanders, and gets picked up by Animal Control, the ticket fee is about double what it would be if the dog is licensed, same for an off-leash dog ticket.

    I agree with the idea of doing away with the ticketing program, however it may be State mandated.

  • Fran Haselsteiner

    Well,that’s what I thought was the case, and perhaps that is no longer true.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    License or licence? You’ve used both, sometimes in the same sentence. Only one spelling is the American standard.

  • Fran Haselsteiner

    Since 1984, when I moved here, I’ve done the same thing each time I’ve gotten a new dog: I go to the Center Street office and present the rabies and spay certificates and pay for the license. You can get three-year licenses, and they bill you. You send them the new rabies certificate, pay the fee, and then they send you the tag. No muss, no fuss.

    I don’t know whether vaccinating is unhealthy. My first dog lived to almost 14, and my second past 16. IMHO the main way to keep my dogs healthy is to take care of their teeth–tooth decay affects their kidneys and livers. Same thing with my cats–my last two each lived past 22 years.

  • Shmir

    Do the vagrants need a license for their mongrels? There is no enforcement for this, what a joke.

  • fed up

    Even if they did, the city would just tax homeowners so that the bums didn’t have to pay for licenses.

  • WuiceJeasel

    You need a license to be a dog in Berkeley?

  • Fern

    I was registering my dogs when two vagrants came to pick up their dogs from neutering. They do have to pay, but their fees are different (or almost nonexistent).

    The reason why this measure was taken “with relatively little debate and no public comments” is because few people know that they have to register their dogs, or they simply don’t care.
    There is clearly a problem with communication and enforcement if only 20% of the dogs in Berkeley are licensed. It does seem like a joke.

    What always happens is that responsible pet owners have to pay for all the others that don’t care about registering their dogs. Now we have to pay more… and it doesn’t even cover the costs! This is NOT a solution.

  • Chris J

    We had a lovely dog for about six years, an adoptee who was older. When we got the dog, the previous owner had arranged all the shots and paperwork, we said thanks, and put the paperwork into a drawer and forgot about it. We enjoyed having Khola for six years. Great dog. We never got him a license, to my recollection, but we kept up his health and inoculations as necessary.

    As for increasing the fees for the local animal shelter, this means that pet adopters may choose other cities to look in,simply to spite this administrative action. I’m not saying this is a good thing or not–just what I perceive to be a natural reaction.

  • southberkeleyres

    Always coming to the residents for more fees, never asking the city employees to contribute towards generous pension plans. Services deteriorating, fees going up. Just who are the councilmembers working for anyway, their fellow employees or the residents?
    On top of this BART wants to raise fares again, EMBUD wants 10% increases two years in a row, PG&E wants to raise rates.

  • cindy

    my question is why it costs 64K to license X number of dogs. How big an administrative task is this? How many people register a dog every day? Many 10 max?

  • Hildah

    How about making the licensing process more efficient so that it does not cost so much to provide? Improving the technology at City Hall may just be the answer.

  • Hildah

    Why don’t you check out what other cities charge before making your comment. If your animal is not licensed and it gets lost you cannot prove it is yours if the pound picks it up. Why not be a good citizen and support your local shelter and pay the fees. I you can’t afford them, then you can’t afford to have a pet.

  • Hildah

    Exactly, fees from water and utilities go up. Don’t you think the shelter’s expenses go up with it? I think we have one of the best animal care department in the state and we should support them. Pension plans are not part of this discussion. It is not so much that services are deteriorating it is more about residents that demand more services. The City has its’ faults but don’t put it all in one bag. If you don’t like your councilmember or mayor, vote him/her out or move.

  • 4eenie

    Apparently, you can afford to have an unlicensed pet In Berkeley, according to this article.

  • Guest

    Homeagain microchip implant. Google it.

  • The_Sharkey

    What residents are demanding more service? What services are they demanding?
    The only service most people in my neighborhood seem to complain about is the state of our roads, and that’s something that our taxes were supposed to have been paying to take care of all these years.

  • Hildah

    Seems like the residents on your block never go to the parks, call the police or fire. They must be affluent since they don’t need health or housing services. Guess they are all young and have no use for senior services and don’t use the libraries. They must also be childless since they don’t use the schools or recreation services. Nor have they ever found a dead animal that needed to be picked up. Guess no one you know has had a problem with pests or unwanted animals. I can go on and on with the services offered in Berkeley. Granted PW is not well governed and has more than a few problems but show me a City that is perfect. I’ll bet your taxes are not very high in comparison to mine since I was finally able to buy a house 10 years ago. You sound like an old angry man. Just because you and your cronies don’t seem to use services available at our City it should not mean that those in need should go without. I often agree with your post on Berkeleyside, but here, you are way off base. If you are so unhappy with Berkeley why do you stay? Why is the condition of the roads the most important thing on your agenda? Call 311 and find out how many calls they get a day and how many they service. Stop living in a bubble where you are the only individual that matters.

  • The_Sharkey

    Which among those are new services, Hildah? Those are all extant services that already exist, and that are supposed to be fully funded by our current tax rates. You said ” It is not so much that services are deteriorating it is more about residents that demand more services.” So what are the new services that residents are demanding?
    I’m not agreeing with the comment by “southberkeleyres” since I
    don’t think this has anything to do with pensions, but I was just
    curious what new services you thought residents were demanding. I’m disappointed that you would immediately resort to moronic personal attacks when someone asks you a polite question.

  • Hildah

    More does not = new. For example: more traffic calming, More pools, more police protection. More neighborhood crime watch service, more caches, more traffic signs, etc. etc. Like I said call 311, customer service, and ask about the calls they receive. Perhaps Berkeleyside can do the investigating about what services residents call about, how often and what are their requests. Berkeley residents voted to allow homeless people to hang out anywhere, anytime. How often do merchants call to have them moved? City voted for zero waste and to keep our own refuse service, those are expensive choices. City also chose to have their own health dept. instead using the county’s, also very expensive. If businesses and homes were properly taxed and the state did not have Prop 13, Cities would not be in the trouble they are in. Unfortunately Sacramento is too chicken to proceed with a fix, they are afraid that if they make a “fix” at least on the corporate issue with Prop 13 they will be labeled anti-business. So here we are the cities have to pick up the bill for federal and state mandates. The cost of labor, water and utilities continue to rise and guess who ends up paying for it?

  • Putty McClegg

    I tried to license my dog when he was about 6 months old. The city of Berkeley actually refused my application and mailed my check back to me because, they said, with a 1-year rabies shot (since the dog was too young to have a 3-year rabies shot), we were too close to having to renew the shot for them to issue me a license. I couldn’t believe the bureaucratic nonsense, when I thought I was doing the right thing…and, no, I have not bothered to try AGAIN to license my dog.