Long Beach Residents want Backyard Chickens, Bees, and Dwarf Goats

I usually like to post links to TV and newspaper articles related to backyard chickens all together on a different page, but this one hits a bit closer to home and was on the front page of the local paper yesterday. 

Excerpt taken from the Long Beach Press Telegram, June 18th, 2012.

Residents want Long Beach to allow livestock

by By Greg Mellen Staff Writer

LONG BEACH – If urban farm advocates have their way, several meetings last week could lead to a “coop d’etat” in the city’s ordinances regarding chickens and other livestock.

More than 80 residents attended a pair of community forums to discuss proposed changes that would ease city restrictions on backyard chickens, goats and bees.”It is limited to those three animals,” said Larry Rich, the city’s sustainability coordinator, who led the meeting, adding that there has been sufficient interest in the subject to give it a closer look.

With Rich was Ted Stevens, the new head of Animal Care Services, which is charged with enforcing city livestock ordinances.  About 50 advocates of urban farming showed up at a community forum on Thursday. The overwhelming majority described themselves as members of the “chicken community.”

On June 26, the Environmental Committee of the City Council will look at the existing ordinances and proposed changes and decide whether to advance the issue to the entire council. The committee meets at 4 p.m. in City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.  Rich said there is no date or timetable for when the council may take up the issue.

At Thursday’s meeting, the urban livestock advocates touted the healthiness and freshness of the food, particularly chicken eggs, and the educational benefits of sustainability to their children. One woman said since she had owned chickens, a former spider infestation was gone, her garden was flourishing and “I’m teaching my children they don’t need to go to Subway. And an egg song is not a bad thing to hear in the morning.” Len Paredes owns seven chickens, and although he butted heads with Animal Care Services, he says he loves being a chicken owner. “They’re my little garbage disposals,” he said. “They eat everything and turn them into eggs. It’s as close to magic as you can get.”

Annissa Harsma, an LAPD officer shown here in October 2011, hopes a movement to change Long Beach’s rules on keeping goats, hens and bees so residents can continue animal husbandry for fresh food, will allow her to keep her chickens at her Long Beach home near CSULB. Harsma and her father built a custom chicken coop for her girls. (Sean Hiller / Staff Photographer)

The urban agriculture movement, spurred by groups such as Long Beach Grows and Long Beach Organic, has been gaining traction in the city in recent years, with community gardens popping up in parks and open spaces like so many dandelions.  In the wake of those successes, there are those who would like to take the whole organic and sustainable philosophy a step further in Long Beach with urban livestock.
Long Beach is considering whether to follow the leads of cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego, which have all relaxed certain restrictions. Currently, Long Beach code permits chickens, goats – in certain areas – and bees, but setback restrictions “make it difficult if not impossible to have these animals legally,” Rich said.

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