Foes allege lies against Burligame animal-shelter

Accusing humane society officials of fraud and the city of withholding information to the public, opponents of a planned animal shelter in Burlingame have filed a new lawsuit to halt the project.

The latest legal challenge against the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA’s $15 million, 42,000-square-foot “Center of Compassion” focuses on its environmental impact report. The 15 plaintiffs, including property owners and two government watchdog groups, say the Humane Society lied in its application for the EIR to skirt more detailed environmental studies that would have slowed the project.

“Theirs is the most corrupt, fraudulent application I’ve seen in nearly 20 years,” said Oscar Braun, of the California Watershed Posse, one of the organizations included in the lawsuit suing to stop the animal shelter plans from moving forward.

Opponents are suing not only the Peninsula Humane Society but the city of Belmont and Terry Horn, the owner of the proposed shelter site for homeless pets and injured wildlife at 1450 Rollins Road.

The lawsuit filed last week also contends that Belmont officials withheld environmental impact information to the public by putting it on an inaccessible disc, and that animal waste from the shelter poses a risk to nearby streams and wildlife, including the endangered red-legged frog.

Peninsula Humane Society President Ken White said this lawsuit is a retread of false claims a small handful of opponents have been making for years.

“Their strategy from the beginning has been to throw as much mud as possible to see if anything sticks,” White said.

White vehemently denied that the Humane Society’s EIR application was fraudulent.

“Thetwo years and hundreds of thousands of dollars went into to the review process speaks to the extreme level of scrutiny this project has gotten,” he said.

The Humane Society’s project has been approved by both the Planning Commission and City Council. Two other lawsuits from some of the same plaintiffs listed in the latest legal challenge have been thrown out by judges but another is pending, said Burlingame City Attorney Larry Anderson.

tbarak@examiner.com


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