Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 4:31 pm | Fair 59º


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Contract Dispute May Pull Plug on Company’s Dog-Wash Stations at County Parks

Santa Barbara County officials say Monarch Pet Spa is behind on its rent and hasn't submitted the required paperwork

After an afternoon of playing in the waves at Arroyo Burro Beach, a tiny pug mix named Diego jumped up into the basin at the Monarch Pet Spa self-serve dog wash that's been operating in the parking lot for years.

Diego's owner, Santa Barbara resident David Tracy, said he brings the dog to the beach to play about once every other week.

But the pet wash may not be operated by the owner company, Monarch Pet Spas LLC, for much longer after a disagreement with the County of Santa Barbara has unfolded, with county officials alleging that the company fell behind on its rent and didn't submit proper paperwork.

For Tracy, the dog wash is a perk to visitors of the county beach.

"I think it's great. It's like a do-it-yourself car wash," he said as he rinsed off the dog. "If it goes away, there won't be anything to replace it."

Noozhawk spoke with Paddy Langlands, deputy director of parks, who said the county has had a contract with Monarch since 2009.

In July, the county gave the company a 90-day termination notice for its three pet spas at county parks, including Waller Park, Arroyo Burro Beach and Lookout Park.

Langlands said the company fell behind in payments over the past year, at one point falling behind by as much as 14 payments. He said the company caught up somewhat but is still behind.

The company pays rent for its space at each site, or 20 percent of gross revenues, whichever is more, Langlands said.

"For the last year, the financials have not been forthcoming," he said, adding that any CPA audited financials weren't produced by the company.

Langlands said the locations are popular, with the Arroyo Beach location being "extremely busy."

"The public really loves the use of the machines and the facility," he said.

If the county does terminate the contract, it would move forward to accept proposals from other companies for the service.

When reached Wednesday afternoon, Monarch owner Ed Bertling said the company has been forthcoming. He maintains that his company turned in checks and paperwork weeks ago, but that there has been miscommunication within the department.

"It's a community treasure. It brings value into the county. They're just not communicating," he said of officials within the parks department.

"We've had so many friends in the county that think it's worth keeping," he said, adding that he may speak before county supervisors in the future to ask them to consider keeping the contract.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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