A $68 million project to build a new high-tech data center for Los Angeles County is being held up because the property is occupied - by 150 wild cats. The new facility is to be built at the Rancho Los Amigos South Campus in Downey, parts of which have fallen into disrepair. Plans to raze buildings to make way for the data center have been held up by the presence of the feral cats, as reported in today's Los Angeles Times. Here's an excerpt:
"It's a [long pause] difficult situation," said Jan Takata of the county's Chief Administrative Office, which oversees Rancho's south campus. ... For starters, figuring out what to do with feral cats has vexed animal control managers, veterinarians and biologists around the world. The never-tamed offspring of abandoned or lost pets, they are usually too wild to be adopted as house pets. Trapping feral cats to euthanize them is time-consuming, expensive and far from foolproof. And killing the cats on site is not palatable to the public, as Wisconsinites discovered in 2005 when not even hunters wanted to legalize cat shoots.
Many of the buildings on the Rancho Los Amigos South Campus have stood empty since the late 1980s. The county data center was seen as an ideal project to rehabilitate the site.
Current plans call for a 46,000 square foot data center, which will consolidate the data processing work of nine county departments into a single location. Planners had initially hoped to begin construction in early 2007 on the new facility, which will be designed to meet criteria for a Silver-level certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program administered by the U.S. Green Buildings Council. The design calls for the facility to be built partially below ground level, with a vegetated roof and landscaped berms to absorb storm runoff, as well as 23,700 square feet of raised floor space - if it's ever completed.
Efforts are currently under way to relocate the cats. Los Angeles County says it is sending hundreds of fliers advertising an initiative called Project Barn Cat. "We're trying to get these cats placed in local barns and equestrian environments, where hay storage makes rats a problem," Michelle Roache, deputy director of the county's Department of Animal Services and Control, told UPI.