Negotiations continue over Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa
Sonoma County leaders have signaled a willingness to continue negotiations about the fate of a nonprofit bird rescue center, potentially providing it more time to find a new home while officials move to sell the county land it’s been housed on for almost 40 years.
Supervisors in closed session Tuesday directed county staff to work with the board and staff from the Bird Rescue Center to continue a yearslong effort to find a new location, Chairman David Rabbitt said. The nonprofit faces a Feb. 11 expiration date of a license agreement that allows it to exist rent-free on the county’s former hospital complex off Chanate Road. The nonprofit must show it’s making a good faith effort to relocate, Rabbitt said.
“The county is looking to work with the group to find a suitable alternate location in a time frame that works with them,” he said. “It’s safe to say the February date can be extended, but the other piece of that is that we want to see a commitment from the Bird Rescue Center going forward as well.”
Ashton Kluttz, the center’s executive director, said she’s continuing to make a contingency plan to relocate the center’s birds should it need to move next month. She plans to ask the county for permission to remain on the county campus though at least the end of the year.
Center staff have “diligently inspected” multiple locations during the past several years and have found a “very viable option” on privately owned land near Cotati, she said. Relocation costs could tally at least $1 million, and the center has submitted to the board a letter of intent to sign a long-term lease there, Kluttz said. A meeting date with county staff has yet to be scheduled, she said.
“We are very hopeful that now that things are moving forward, we’ll be able to come up with something that everyone can agree on,” she said.