LB eyes easing rules on goats, hens, bees
COUNCIL: Committee will seek lengthy public comment before any changes.
Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA) - Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Author/Byline: Eric Bradley Staff Writer
LONG BEACH - Goats will continue to be barred from being kept south of Anaheim Street, at least for now.
The seemingly eccentric rule, a relic of Long Beach's 20th century urbanization, was part of a pack of changes to the municipal code debated by the City Council's Environmental Committee on Tuesday.
Urban agriculture advocates are pushing city officials to relax property line setback regulations governing the keeping of hens, goats and bees to expand opportunities to produce organic eggs, milk and honey.
Committee members eventually voted 2-1 to direct city staff to continue to study altering current restrictions, but not before lengthy public comment.
About two dozen residents lined up to speak for and against the measures, with most in favor.
Long Beach Grows Executive Director Donna Marykwas countered concerns about animal abuse by saying that her chicken and goats are treated "like royalty" compared with animals that produce the majority of eggs and milk in the United States.
"We don't tell other people what they can or cannot eat," Marykwas said, "and not allowing individuals to raise our own eggs and milk equates to more factory farm animal abuse in a commercial setting."
The proposed law would allow up to four hens with no restriction, five to 10 chickens at least 25 feet away from a neighboring residence and 11 to 20 of the birds at least 50 feet away from homes.
Currently, up to 20 hens can be kept on a property if they are at least 50 feet away from single and two-family residences and 100 feet from homes of three families or more.
The outlined changes would also allow two female pygmy goats, licensed annually, without restriction.
Goats are now limited to one animal 100 feet from residences - and only north of Anaheim Street, once considered a rural area of Long Beach.
The proposed rules would allow two beehives on property at least five feet from property lines. Those less than 15 feet from a property line would require a surrounding flyaway barrier at least six feet high.
Hives must now be kept 100 feet from homes and 10 feet above ground.
The proposals were modeled after small-scale animal husbandry laws in cities such as Seattle, Santa Monica and San Diego, according to staff.
The possibility of bees buzzing around near her home had one resident worried.
Heather Altman, who lives in Belmont Heights, said she hopes the committee will look into creating safeguards to protect bee -allergic residents.
"This is a very real concern for me, and I'd like to be able to use my backyard," Altman said.
Councilman Patrick O'Donnell submitted the lone "no" vote Tuesday after expressing concern over the committee's asking the City Attorney's Office to come back with draft changes to city code in September meeting.
"To go ahead and slide it into legal language, to me, solidifies it," O'Donnell said.
Regardless of what results from the process, Long Beach citizens won't have to deal with roosters crowing at the break of dawn.
"Roosters aren't allowed per city code, and we're not proposing to change it," said Larry Rich, city sustainability coordinator.
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