Council's Environmental Committee Votes
Staff had favored doing resident survey first, says draft ordinance will be ready in first quarter of 2013
(Nov. 28, 2012, 6:45 a.m.) -- As carried LIVE on LBREPORT.com's front page [the only place it could be viewed LIVE], the City Council's Environmental Committee (chair, Lowenthal, vice chair, O'Donnell, member Johnson) voted 3-0 to direct city staff to have a draft ordinance on loosening rules for keeping chickens, goats and bees prepared for Committee discussion and public input in the 1st quarter of 2013.
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The Committee action was precipitated by city staff's acknowledgment that it didn't have a draft ordinance ready to discuss. Development Services Dir. Amy Bodek indicated staff was preparing a survey on which residents could provide input that Ms. Bodek indicated could help guide staff's preparation of a draft ordinance.
In a polite but firm tone, Councilman Johnson expressed displeasure at not having a draft ordinance ready to discuss, which he said was the Committee's previous direction to city staff in June...and Johnson pointedly made the same motion he'd made in June, seconded (as it was in June) by Councilwoman/Committee chair Lowenthal, to have staff return with a draft ordinance for discussion.
Public testimony followed. Unlike the June Committee meeting, no speakers spoke in opposition; several speakers (as in June) spoke in favor...and also voiced displeasure at continued delays. Among the public speakers were several backyard beekeepers, who cited the benefits of bees and dowplayed public fears of bees.
Committee chair Lowenthal asked Ms. Bodek when the draft ordinance could be ready for Committee discussion; Ms. Bodek replied "in 2013." Pressed by Committee chair Lowenthal, Ms. Bodek offered the 1st quarter of 2013.
Councilman O'Donnell didn't oppose the motion for a draft ordinance but indicated he continues to favor having additional public input.
The Committee motion doesn't preclude staff from conducting a public survey but does direct staff to have the draft ordinance ready for Committee discussion in early 2013. Committee members variously indicated that although they'd consider survey responses, the results of an admittedly unscientific survey wouldn't be determinative for them.
During Committee colloquy, city sustainability staffer Larry Rich provided a historical overview of why the dividing line for keeping certain animals (goats) is currently Anaheim St.
In another brief colloquy invited by Committee chair Lowenthal, LB Animal Care Services (animal control) indicated that a change that would bring more animals into Long Beach would mean additional calls for various services [the exchange comes near end of the Committee meeting].
And there's been some initial overnight reaction from Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, who writes on Facebook: "I like requiring residents to get the written permission of their neighbors before being allowed to have chickens in the backyard. That will stop alot of complaints if Long Beach allows."
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The item as agendized for the Nov. 27 Committee meeting was "to receive and file a brief status report on proposed community outreach efforts for potential revisions to Urban Agriculture regulations."
The proposal to amend LB's Municipal Code to encourage backyard urban farming that includes goats, egg-laying poultry and bees is supported by Long Beach Grows, which states on its website (www.LBGrows.org) that it has collected over 1,600 signatures on its pro urban agriculture petition.
At the June Committee meeting, speakers in support outnumbered those in opposition. A number of animal advocates spoke in opposition at that time.
The item stems from a proposal advanced from the Council's Sustainable City Council Commission (public members/advisory body) nearly two years ago (Dec. 1, 2010). The item has previously been heard by the Environmental Committee in October 2011, March 2012 and June 2012.
In the public interest (with Committee meetings not carried live on City Hall's website), LBREPORT.com provided LIVE coverage on our front page.
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Contact us: mail@LBReport.com