Supervisor Shawn Nelson at a county supervisors' meeting.

With officials continuing to face withering criticism over deteriorating conditions at the county’s 74 year-old animal shelter, Supervisor Shawn Nelson has identified a potential site that he hopes will speed along the process of building a new one.

At Tuesday’s supervisors meeting, Nelson asked that the county’s real estate chief look at the approximately eight acres of vacant county-owned land next to the Registrar of Voters on Grand Ave. in Santa Ana.

The county has already studied whether an animal shelter could be put there, he said.

“It’s there, it fits the animal shelter,” Nelson said.

The county, which has already set aside millions of dollars to construct a new shelter, has long pointed to a site at the former Marine Corps base in Tustin as the prime spot to build the replacement.

But it’s still under the Navy’s control, prompting the grand jury and local animal advocates to urge the county to look at other options.

Nelson said he’s seen a recent timeline for the Navy site and calls it “just unacceptable.”

He asked county staff to request that the Navy report back quickly on what the plan is for the land, “not these government timelines where we’re going to send it out for 90 days and think about it.”  The answer, he added, should come before the supervisors’ next meeting on Oct. 6.

County CEO Frank Kim replied that staff will “explore all opportunities to identify a site quickly.”

In a scathing report earlier this year, a county grand jury said the health of animals and people alike are being put at risk while top county officials fail to take leadership on building a new shelter.

The World War II-era shelter, which is located next to the Theo Lacy jail in Orange, is in a state of “utter disrepair,” the panel wrote. “Structural integrity, cleanliness, and sanitation continue to be compromised and pose serious risks to human as well as animal health.”

Among the issues, the shelter was built with unreinforced brick, which could collapse in an earthquake. And a county supervisor told grand jurors that the county “is unable to inspect the roof of the main structure for fear of its collapse.”

You can contact Nick Gerda at, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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