(July 15, 2013) -- The City Council should say YES to a proposal to change Long Beach city law on keeping goats, chickens and bees, coming to the Council later today (July 16)...and my comments below respond point by point to matters raised in an op-ed Deborah Turner and Bob Carlton (at this link).
These are questions that can be addressed.
- "The proposal would allow residents to keep neutered male goats. What purpose do neutered male goats serve other than to slaughter?" They're not for milk and they're not for procreation. They would be allowed as companion animals. The purpose is to prohibit intact males which, like roosters would create exessive noise.
- "There is no limit on the size of an allowable bee hive...and the proposal ordinance would allow up to four of them. Hives can range in size from 25,000 to over 125,000 cells, and the average small hive produces 50 to 75 lbs of honey per year, while 4 large hives can produce 500 lbs per year. It sounds like those seeking to keep bees at this magnitude, ought to be required to have a business license, as well."The size of a hive fluctuates according to season -- grows in spring, shrinks in winter (even here) . As lovely as it would be, most hives produce nowhere near the amount of honey claimed above. Most home beekeepers are lucky to harvest enough honey to satisfy friends and family. Should they have enough surplus to sell at a farmers market, the proper permit from the LB Health department under the cottage foods rules would apply.
- "Will the hives be wasp protected? A bee hive can create an associated wasp problem that must be managed...and the wasps likely won't cooperate in remaining on just one property." Wasps are pollinators that control pests like spiders, flies, caterpillars and bugs of all kinds. They are already in the environment and don’t choose to build a nest because a beehive is nearby. By the way, wasps are extremely attracted to bamboo -- something to think about.
- "Thus far, enforcement issues haven't been seriously addressed, among them cleanliness and feeding requirements. The proposed ordinance requires daily cleaning of the cages and feeding of animals. How is this going to be enforced?" There is no reason to think enforcement would be different than it currently is for cleaning up your yard after your dogs and cats. It would be complaint driven if there is odor.
- "The ordinance would require Animal Care Services officers -- already stretched to the limit with their current tasks -- to additionally serve as de facto census takers and surveyors. The last thing Long Beach needs now is to reduce their ability to handle their current animal care tasks." The evidence from cities contacted shows that cities of similar size with similar changes have not experienced a significant uptick in tasks for ACS.
- "What about goat noise? It can range from bleating for some goats to others sounding like a child crying. And yes, goats can be loud." Goats are not as loud as a backyard dog with separation issues when the owner goes to work. Siamese cats sound like babies crying, and of course babies sound like babies crying.
- "The ordinance doesn't limit goats to pygmy goats; they could be large goats, which can be very aggressive. It does limit the goats to pygmy goats. What about fines and penalties for violators who violate the ordinance? What about repeat offenders? Same as current fines and penalties currently in place for other animal issues.
- "Will the proposed regulations only apply to residences or will Long Beach's community gardens be allowed to become animal farms as well? The proposed regulation only says "parcel of land," apparently not limited to private property. Yes, if they meet the requirements.
- "If public lands will be used and food distributed in a community fashion, urban animal agriculture isn't efficient for food production. Vegetable production yields considerably more food per unit area than animal raising." Not everyone embraces veganism. Many consume milk, eggs, and honey
- "Finally, the public has only had limited opportunity to be heard by a Committee of three Councilmembers, only two of whom voted to advance the measure to Council consideration. The proposed measure creates quality of life issues for people and for animals. The Council should vote it down at this point because it deserves more public discussion than it has received and will create more problems than it will solve." There have been 2 official town hall public meetings, three years of open Sustainable City meetings with public feedback , Environmental Commission meetings with public feedback, city councilmember initiated polls (overwhelmingly in favor) and social media queries (also in favor).