Urban Ag Ordinance: City Council Delivers New Pecking Orders

As the saying goes, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. After quite a few of them were tossed by both opponents and champions of urban livestock nearly two years ago, the city council has come up with a new recipe for successful urban farming.

The council met with the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine; the city’s Office of Sustainability; the City Attorney’s office; and community members with a request for the city attorney to bring an ordinance within 30 days to amend sections Title 6 of the Long Beach Municipal Code, particularly regarding chickens, goats and bees.

The new wording presented aims to allow residents who wish to keep livestock that would provide fresh eggs, goat milk and honey the chance to be “closer to the food sources in their diet.” 

The ordinance as it presently stands specifies the number of chickens, goats and hives that may be kept on a property, the type of enclosure; sanitation requirements; the distance from neighboring residences and areas of the city in which the animals may be kept.

The new wording expands and tweaks these conditions. The complete text of the new wording can be accessed here.

The proposed rewording strikes the dehorning of goats, limits the type to pygmy (dwarf), and mandates that no more or fewer than two be kept.

Goats are pack animals—a single goat left to its own devices will cause a ruckus in the yard out of loneliness. If a male goat is included in the pair, he must be neutered. Goats, like cats and dogs, will also be subject to annual permits and microchipping.

They may be kept no closer than 10 feet from any neighboring residence; their enclosures are likewise specified by size and must be kept in sanitary condition and adequately secured, with enough food and water for the animals. Goat milk is for personal consumption and may not be sold to the public.

Any more than four chickens will also require permits, there are and distance requirements for neighboring dwellings. Up to four hens must be 10 feet away from a neighboring property; five to 10 must be kept 35 feet away, and 11 to 20 must be 50 feet away. Pen sizes must be a minimum of 10 feet of permeable land per chicken and also be adequately secure and sanitary, with enough food for the chickens.

Beehives must be at least 10 feet from neighboring residences. In addition, they must be adequately screened with a six-foot barrier (which may be vegetative) or placed at least 8 feet high on a roof so that they’ll fly in a straight line. There must be an adequate water source for them as well so that they don’t drop in at a neighborhood pool party. Beehives must be registered with the county.

For more information on registration and beekeeping in general, visit the Long Beach Beekeepers website.

Councilmembers Lowenthal, Supernaw and Andrews stated in an accompanying document that the proposed changes and adjustments to the present ordinance will allow residents who have the proper facilities to obtain milk, eggs and honey from their own local sources while protecting the property and well-being of their neighbors. They also mentioned the fairness of the new wording regarding animal ownership.

“For Long Beach to allow residents to own up to four large-breed dogs without regulating their living quarters but not allow residents to own animals such as goats or chickens within acceptable parameters is inconsistent,” the letter read. “There are policies and procedures for enforcement to animals on private property in place already, and Animal Care Services (ACS) staff believes this policy will not have a significant impact on their enforcement, public safety and adoption resources.”

ACS manager Ted Stevens in fact said that the only calls the shelter gets regarding urban livestock are for roosters, which Long Beach residents are prohibited to own.

Furthermore, the calls received by the shelter regarding bees concern wild swarms, and there are bee wranglers who can handle these animals. The council members described domestic beekeeping as being “much maligned,” citing the benefits bees provide to community and nature. Domestic bees, they said, fly in a straight line toward pollen supplies; situating them in high places implies that they won’t fly into a neighbor’s yard or into a neighbor.

Breaking it Down

In a couple of articles I wrote for the Post in 2013, I expressed a tentative support for urban livestock as well as some concerns.

I have seen both urban chickens and beehives successfully maintained in local neighborhoods; there was no foul smell from the fowl and I wouldn’t have known the beehives were present. The neighbors, placated with fresh eggs and honey, were fine with it all. My niece had chickens living in the yard behind hers, and she said that she hadn’t been aware of it until they moved and left the coops behind.

Goats I have no experience with, except for one owned by some friends who live on a huge property north of L.A. The goat has partnered up with their dog.

And the people I visited have an enormous yard, and so do the neighbors. My niece lives in Seattle, where there are more homes with huge backyards and fewer squashed-together buildings. I’m concerned about the smell from farm animals who may be kept in more impacted neighborhoods, although the new standards may prevent that. I also don’t think that this will be a slippery slope and folks will wind up with braces of bison in their backyards.

But as for the fairness statement, although I don’t feel that people be prevented from owning cats and dogs because animal cruelty exists, there are also failed urban farms as well as successful ones. Google “pros and cons of urban livestock” or similar keywords, and you can read it for yourself. Some opponents of urban livestock do worry about sanitation, but quite a few are more concerned about neglect of the animals. I worry about it, too.

If the ordinance ultimately passes, however, I hope for the best, particularly in the realm of education and prevention of neglect.

Funds from the permits, which I feel should extend to fewer than five hens, will hopefully go toward enforcement of sanitary conditions, mistreatment of animals or backyard butchering. It’s still legal to throw a hen into the stewpot, but neighbors shouldn’t be privy to the screams and squawks. Besides enforcement there must be a public-outreach effort to educate prospective beekeepers and owners of farm animals about the labor and attention that goes into farming and how to do so effectively and humanely.

Fortunately, Long Beach has a number of resources; they include Long Beach Beekeepers, Long Beach Grows and Farm Lot 59.

Farm Lot 59, located at 2714 California Avenue, was transformed from a wasteland dump into a nonprofit sustainable farm that produces fruits, vegetables, honey and eggs. Founder Sasha Kanno agrees that raising livestock isn’t a walk through a cornfield chewing on a piece of straw. There’s cost as well—what you may save on eggs is countered by setup and maintenance, and from what I understand, it’s not chicken feed.

“You have to have someone watching when you’re gone,” Kanno said. “And are you going to take your chickens to a vet or provide for their medical attention? Are you going to be armed with resources to have a safe, happy and healthy flock?”

Kanno said she does get calls from people who are moving or who didn’t know how much work it is to raise a flock, but on the other hand, she strongly attests homegrown eggs are great for health and the whole process is great for kids to learn from.

Should the ordinance pass, as always, it’s up to the community to make sure of its success.

“It’s like anything,” Kanno said. “If you’re going to have cats, dogs or fish, it’s the responsibility of you as a pet owner.”

Virtually Pets

If you wouldn’t kick your grandmother to the curb, you’ll understand how sad is the situation of a senior pet who’s spent his or her life in a familiar setting. If you can make a pet’s latter years truly golden, here are two candidates from our shelter at Long Beach ACS, 7700 East Spring Street, at the entrance of El Dorado Park. Just ask for ACS at the gate.

Haley

Haley

This sweet 16-year-old needs a loving home. She’s a loving cat and equally beautiful. She’s spayed and ready to go! Ask for ID A491647.

Clyde

Clyde

Clyde’s an eight-year-old American Staffie. He’s a happy guy with a goofy grin. He knows some commands—like a lot of us seniors, he can “sit” really well—but he has lots of energy as well. Ask for IDA547876. 

Pet Projects

Friends of Long Beach Animals Humane Education Program, Free, Ongoing until July

Reserve a date for this necessary program now, as it will go on hiatus in mid-June. Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA)  stands by its word when it says it actively supports teaching children kindness to and respect for animals.

FOLBA has provided several copies of humane books to all of the libraries in the Long Beach Unified School District, all the Public Libraries in Long Beach and Signal Hill, as well as to Raising-a-Reader and to Mary Bethune Transitional Center (assisting homeless children who need reading improvement so they can attend regular LBUSD classes).

This interactive humane education program is free to all schools in the Long Beach Unified School District, Girl and Boy Scout Troops, Long Beach Parks and Libraries and Community Groups. Basic elements of the program are as follows:

  • Humane treatment of all living creatures
  • Basic pet care
  • Proper behavior around animals
  • Responsibilities and rewards of pet ownership
  • Handouts and study materials
  • Follow-up activities

For information, contact Friends’ office at 562.988.7647.

Monthly Mutt Mingles, Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and PawBar, 4818 East Second Street, Long Beach, third Wednesday of every month; and 222 East Broadway, third Thursday of every month, 6:00–8:00PM

Join P&P for their monthly mixer, and enjoy special treats, toasts, and plenty of in-store tail-wagging. Mutt Mingles are a great way for your dog to learn valuable social skills. It’s a chance for them to experience and interact in a social setting with food, drink and plenty of other distractions! It’s important for your dog to learn how to behave around other dogs and people so that they’ll be the stars of the dog park and the dog beach. The indoor facility provides for a very comfortable setting and fun atmosphere. Dogs may be off-leash if supervised closely by their owners. For their protection, we lock the front door so dogs are safe from the street traffic.

SpcaLA Friends for Life Summer Camp, June–August, spcaLA P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village & Education Center, 7700 East Spring Street Long Beach 

Paws down, this is the best summer camp around. Kids eight–13 will learn the basics of pet care and responsibility, respect for all animals, and the beginnings of dog training—all while making the best kinds of friends—those who care about animals! There are 10 sessions available, each running Monday through Friday. Enroll on our website, available at this link.

#Pizza Rev Pets Campaign, throughout June

In celebration of National Pet Adoption Month, PizzaRev has launched the #PizzaRevPets campaign to help find forever homes for sheltered or abandoned animals. Throughout June, animal lovers are encouraged to share their favorite adopted pet photos and their adoption story via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, using #PizzaRevPets. PizzaRev will choose one grand prize winner to receive free pizza for a year. The winning photo will be displayed at PizzaRev restaurants across the country.

Ten winners will receive a $100 PizzaRev gift card. PizzaRev, where you can craft your own pizza, has devoted time and funding to pet adoption, and many of the employees have adopted pets of their own; the Long Beach store is located in the Towne Center, 7551B Carson Avenue, near the movie theater.

Friends of Long Beach Animals 26th Annual Membership Meeting, Wednesday, June 24, 6:30 PM, Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 East Anaheim Street, Long Beach, free

Join Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA) for an evening of pet-themed events featuring Terry Long, a certified professional dog trainer, behavior consultant and owner of DogPACT, a Long Beach-based dog-training company. Terry and her team of certified trainers provide a variety of classes for pet manners, agility, and nose work, as well as private consultations for serious behavior problems. Her dogs, Kiwi and Pretzel, will provide entertainment that’s not to be missed. Refreshments will be served. FOLBA would love volunteers.

14th Year Anniversary of Rosie’s Dog Beach, Wednesday, June 24, Rosie’s Dog Beach, 5000 East Ocean Boulevard between Roycroft and Granada Avenues

Rosie’s Dog Beach remains the only off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. It was established to celebrate the life of Rosie the Bulldog, who was the first swimmer into the water when the beach was dedicated 14 years ago. Look for the wonderful design designators that mark the boundaries of the beach, and splash away with your best buddy. Find out more about Rosie’s Dog Beach here.

Long Beach Animal Care Services Fund-Raiser, Thursday, June 25, 11:00AM–10:00PM, PizzaRev, 7551B Carson Boulevard at Long Beach Towne Center, Long Beach

Let’s raise some dough for our shelter pets! Mention Long Beach Animal Care Services when you order your pizza and send 20 percent of whatever you get to the shelter. What better topping than love?

Animal Care Services Shelter Adoptions, Saturday and Sunday, June 27, noon–7:00PM; June 28, 10:00AM–5:00PM, PetSmart, 7631 Carson Boulevard, Long Beach

Cats and dogs needing forever homes are waiting for the right one at these events. After one finds you, pop in to PetSmart and get all the necessities.

Pours for Paws, Saturday, June 27, 6:00PM–9:00PM, Howl Event Space, 237 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach, $50 single, $90 couple, $100 foursome

Join the Seal Beach Animal Care Center (SBACC) for a delightful evening in the courtyard of a historical house to enjoy live jazz, hors d’oeuvres, tasting great vintages, and a silent raffle and auction. It’s a great evening out for you and an even better one that will benefit the dogs and cats at SBACC! Contact [email protected]  for tickets and info.

Low-Cost Pet Vaccination Clinics, Thursday, July 2, 4:00PM–7:00PM, Scherer Park, 4600 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach

Pet owners must be 18 years or older. All pets must be on leashes or in carriers. Only healthy and non-pregnant animals will be vaccinated. If you have a prior rabies vaccine certificate, license tag or license renewal notice for your pet, please bring it with you to the clinic. Vaccination and microchip services are provided for pets residing in any city. Licensing service is provided for residents within our jurisdiction: Long Beach, Signal Hill, Cerritos, Los Alamitos and Seal Beach. 

For more service information and pricing please visit Southern California Veterinary Vaccine Clinics.

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Kate Karp is the Pets Columnist for the Long Beach Post covering the world of animal activism, pet adoptions and lots of cute cats. She’s called Long Beach home since 1994 and has written for the Post for about 10 years. Kate’s day job is as a copyeditor, which she discovered a love for during her 30-year tenure as a teacher. She describes the job as “like taking the rough edges off a beautiful sculpture.”
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