Wednesday, January 26, 2011
No Backyard Chickens For You!
A big thumbs down to the Springville city council for voting down a proposal that would allow residents on less than 1/2 acre of ground to keep backyard hens. I hear people complain all the time that the Federal Government is taking away our rights. As a member of a city council myself I can say that there is no government more invasive and more likely to take away peoples rights than city government. Springville has a rich heritage in farming and agriculture and now has apparently forgotten its roots.
I can completely understand concerns with keeping chickens if residents are asking to keep roosters as well. Roosters can be noisy although I have lived next to dogs that were far noisier. The Springville city council cited two concerns as grounds for rejecting the ordinance:
1. Cost of enforcing the ordinance
2. Chickens will attract wild animals into the city
The cost of enforcing the ordinance. This is a lame excuse. How many residents do they actually expect will start keeping laying hens in their backyard? The town only has about 6,400 owner occupied households. Subtract a few hundred for condos and such and they are left with 6,000 owner occupied households. I would be shocked if more than 1% of households kept chickens. Of these, how many are going to abuse the ordinance to require enforcement? Portland, OR a very "foodie" city allows residents to keep up to 3 hens. For four or more, a permit is required. In all of Portland (pop. 582,000) only 52 households have applied for this permit. Regardless of the minuscule cost, why not just fine the non complying households enough to cover the enforcement costs?
Chickens will attract wild animals into the city. Based on this logic, they city would need to ban backyard gardens as well as pet food, bird seed, backyard BBQs, and picnics at the park. We keep lots of chickens and turkeys. We live in the country where at least once a year I see mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, badgers, raccoons, and skunks. All are potential predators. The only problems I have had are with raccoons and skunks. I can raise chickens all year without a problem, but as soon as the garden starts to produce corn, here come the raccoons. They wreck havoc on our gardens. The skunks have killed chickens on occasion, but mostly they go after cat food and garbage. My point is, that there are far greater attractions for critters than just chickens. Again, we live in the country where there is far more wildlife than in a suburban setting.
It is saddening that a small city like Springville deprives its residents of the opportunity to produce their own eggs. I can fully understand the problems with keeping common livestock within city limits. As a resident of Springville, you can have numerous dogs, cats, rabbits, reptiles, hamsters, parrots etc... all of which you can breed and produce offspring. Try and keep a couple of chickens to do something meaningful like produce your own eggs and that is problematic. Wake up Springville City Council! Booooo!