Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 26, 2013

Back in your own backyard

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

The East Bay Express article that was pointed to by a commenter on yesterday’s post had a good overview of how backyard farm animals are regulated in other cities.     Funny thing is the fact that Deputy City Manager Alex Nguyen’s name is misspelled half of the times it appears in the piece.  It appears that most cities have allowed some form of farm animals in their cities, what I was really looking for was regulations regarding the backyard slaughter of these animals.

There is a lot of articles out there about discussions in Oakland about the issue centered mainly around Novella Carpenter who maintains a website about her urban homesteading efforts.    It’s pretty fuzzy on regulations around it and the best that I can gather is that as long as there are no regulations in the city then it’s pretty much up to you and your backyard what you do there with your backyard animals.   El Cerrito flirted with the idea of a ban on backyard slaughter when El Cerrito was updating their backyard animal laws.  In the end the City Council opted for no ban which left El Cerrito where it started with, silent on the law.

What I do hope is included is maybe a notice to neighbors when someone opts to have multiple backyard animals. Because while the photo of the Alamedan with her goats and sheep is adorable. I’m not sure how I would feel about living next door to the goats and sheep.

And while I have no problem with responsible folks who know what they are doing responsibly and humanely slaughtering animals in their backyards, personally, I would want to be given a “heads up” so my kids aren’t wandering in the vicinity when it happens.

Given the fact that Williams Sonoma has its own line of chicken coops and beehives I think this whole urban farming thing is pretty much as mainstream as it can get so I’m glad that this whole issues is being addressed sooner rather than later.


  1. I attended last nights meeting and am firmly opposed to rezoning Alameda from residential to agricultural. I work in this field so am very educated and familiar with this issue of animal raising for agricultural uses. I only found out about the meeting wed am. I called Alex Nguyen to ask who organized and was speaking at the meeting. He was evasive. I told him I was opposed to rezoning for allowance of farm animals and backyard slaughter, he was happy to hear I would go to the meeting and he hoped I would speak as the city wants input from citizens.
    It became clear at the meeting that proponents have had a working group and have been working with the city to write new ordinances, had a power point presentation which was given.Yet there was absolutely no one in the room to give the other side. So I filled that role and spoke at the podium. Had I not been at the meeting there would have been zero talk on the opposing side.

    This is a very radical trend the past few years which is going city to city proposing rewrite of our cities zoning laws to allow people to raise farm animals for eggs, dairy, and meat, within residential zoning. People are confused as the ideology surrounding this is mixing growing vegetables, beekeeping, Bosco the pet pig in Alameda (which has nothing to do with this issue), and rabbits etc. The PowerPoint presentation would have confused people to think the animals being proposed are pets and would have the protections of pets, they would not as agricultural animals are exempt from the laws pertaining to pets.
    This is about raising chickens, rabbits, pigs, goats and sheep (I am not kidding), in Alameda and they will be slaughtered for consumption. The proponents try to get cities to expressly write code allowing slaughter. So far the surrounding cities have been unwilling to go that far but have not expressly forbidden it. It is within this grey zone now that proponents are slaughtering the animals they keep for “personal consumption”.
    Many people commented they think this is great except for slaughter, but do not understand the two issues are inextricably linked.
    To prove this point a few people expressed they do currently, and want to be allowed to, slaughter the animals they keep. The meeting was sort of quickly moved on to other individuals when this issue came up. This is the real issue and the one the city does not want to stir up.

    I would like the city to remain residential in zoning and not allow large farm animal species and not allow slaughter specifically. Here is why. Large animal species like goats pigs and sheep have zero ability to live any kind of natural life in Alameda thus negating any possibility of “humane treatment”. This is localizing the intensive confinement people wish to avoid when they shun factory farmed meat.
    In addition the safe handling practices and sanitation issue is real. I had a long discussion yesterday with someone in Tenn I work with that raises free range chickens. She has a very small flock and detailed to me the daily exercise, cleaning and feeding rituals she uses to maintain her chickens. All of which is very time consuming and expensive. Despite her excellent care she still had a coccidiosis outbreak which required burning of an acre. This was necessary despite freezes which we do not have here, which can help. Point being with chickens come salmonella and cocidia and other health risks. As do other farm animals and the small spaces they are kept in exacerbate this problem.

    The reason the discipline of city planning came into existence in the 19th century was specifically to increase the quality of life of city dwellers that used to live in close proximity to animal agriculture. Public Health officials and social workers, together with architects created the idea of zoning, residential as separate from agricultural. This backyard farm movement is essentially wanting to overturn basic sanitary and quality of life zoning for people in cities, for their hobby. Growing plant food is great and in no way affects anyone’s neighbors as live animal agriculture in widespread use would.

    No need to discuss the disposal and sanitation problems arising from dead and sick animals and slaughter, that is obvious.

    All animal agriculture brings predators as people learn quickly. Here in Alameda it is rats, raccoons, possums and skunks. Alameda County Vector control was at the meeting and stated they were not consulted on this issue.

    In addition the cities that have allowed this have seen an uptake in ill cared for and abandoned farm animals. The Oakland shelter has taken in chickens goats pigs and sheep. The farm sanctuaries on the west coast have all been flooded the past few years with chickens and chicken calls. Well cared for chickens can live 6-8 years and longer for some species, yet productive egg laying occurs only a couple years so older birds are unwanted and males unnecessary for egg laying. Male goats are also unnecessary and discarded, the females need to be pregnant to produce milk which is why people keep them. In the farming world males are unproductive and unnecessary.

    The inevitable result of this will be many people impulsively obtaining live animals, then quickly realizing it is too difficult and expensive to properly care for them, and they will then run to shelters and rescues to take their animals. This has happened in every single jurisdiction where this has been allowed.

    The city of Alameda has an animal control budget of 80 K, that is it. Current noise ordinances, such as barking dogs, are handled by calls to the police. The obvious inability of the city to deal with the inevitable resulting animal issues is real.

    Anyone interested in this issue, please read up and get informed quickly as the city will be moving to redo ordinances soon.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  2. When you say you work in this field, what does that mean? Could you describe your experience for us?

    Comment by dave — April 26, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  3. Yeah, the above comment is from the woman who gave the … well, “interesting” is how I heard her talk described.

    She seems to feel that updating the ordinances will “rezone” Alameda into some kind of Coalinga-like wasteland of factory farms. I don’t see how it could be further from the truth.

    In fact, I think it’s the opposite. Without these changes being proposed, somebody could “legally” crowd, say, 100 goats onto a 20×20 lot. With the changes, they couldn’t.

    Alex Nguyen wasn’t evasive. He reacted just like most people do when somebody like this tries to talk “at” them like this. Really, if somebody has a minority opinion and they are trying to get people to listen to them, they need to make sure that their social skills and rhetoric skills are in good shape. Otherwise, it’s just like those guys who go to every single city council meeting and drone on in the public comments section about every single issue. Nobody listens to that kind of person.

    I notice also that last night’s “opposition” doesn’t even *live* in Alameda. She flies from city to city, professionally protesting. I don’t think any of the actual Alameda residents did much more than roll their eyes at her diatribe.

    She claims “a radical trend” and yet the ability to have, say, chickens one one’s back yard, has been legal in Alameda for decades. Also, nothing in the proposed regulations that *actual alamedans* are working on say anything about meat.

    Bosco the Pig, though he is more of a pet than a livestock animal like a chicken, is absolutely what this is about. The point is to make the regulations clear, humane, and neighborhood-friendly.

    She seems to think that this is a slippery slope, and that by allowing people to keep a couple of mini-pigs, or bees, or an expressly limited number of goats, sheep, or fowl, that somehow this is going to cause factory farming, which is what she’s really protesting.

    So let’s sum up what these cigar-smoking, backroom-dealin farmers like me are proposing:

    Chickens. Previous restriction was 6 chickens, with neighbor distance limitations. Proposal is to bump it 8 chickens, also with distance limitations. (I don’t see this as turning Alameda into a Tyson factory farm.)

    Pigs. Previous was 5 full-size pigs, with space limitations no longer possible in Alameda. Proposed is 2 miniature pigs (limited by weight)

    Goats and sheep: Unspecified in the current code; proposal for 3 (or 4 dwarf goats), with specific minimum space restrictions (that would also limit the number allowable based on yard area). So this is taking something that was completely unregulated and could have been abused (to the detriment of the animals and the neighbors) and putting in restrictions.

    Bees: Unspecified in the current code; proposal is for 6 hives plus distance restrictions. Again, this is regulating something that was previously unregulated and could have potentially been abused.

    Rabbits: Unspecified in the current code; proposal is for limit of 8 (though I see they City wants 4 limit). Also adding a restriction.

    Comment by Dan Wood — April 26, 2013 @ 10:04 am

  4. As mentioned in response to yesterday’s blog, I also attended. I want to personally thank JD for her very brave presentation at the meeting. She encountered a less than enthusiastic reception from many in attendance who attempted to pooh pooh her concerns and bully her into silence. She persisted with pose, intelligence, and factual information, bringing up a number of issues about which I’m sure many are unaware and which many appear to be adamant about dismissing. People are clearly passionate about these issues but there are real concerns and they should not be ignored. JD faced a tough room last night and although I do not necessarily agree with everything she had to say, I appreciate her having the courage to say it.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 26, 2013 @ 10:16 am

  5. @4 – Well said and magnanimous.

    Comment by Dan Wood — April 26, 2013 @ 10:22 am

  6. I am an Alameda resident. I do volunteer work in the area of non-lethal predator control and work closely with people that raise animals in rural areas, in organic and sustainable agriculture and animal raising.
    What I said was Alex was evasive to me in a private conversation about who was speaking at and who organized the meeting. Of course he was working with you as you were the one that gave a power point presentation which included Bosco the pet pig.

    As I stated keeping pigs as pets is not the purpose of the rezoning. If it is please let me know and the city can write ordinances specifically detailing keeping farm animals as pets and then slaughter will be prohibited, and standards of care will be the same as it is for dogs and cats. Is that what you are proposing? Of course not.

    My point also being the vast majority of Alamedans have no idea this is occurring and numerous people have told me they were shocked to read in the Sun people in Alameda have “barnyard animals”.

    I am not going to spend a lot of time in the kind of hostility these debates engender. Suffice it to say this is a choice for all Alamedans to make and it must be made as an informed choice.

    Had the issue of live animal agriculture and slaughter not entered the conversation last night, it would not have been a meeting which in any way accurately informed Alamedans as to what is going on. My comments and these blog posts from the moderator have now identified the real issue and hopefully the education and engagement will continue.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 10:23 am

  7. PS
    currently no one could cram 100 goats into a 20 by 20 lot because we are zoned residential

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 10:32 am

  8. By the way, there was one other comment by a lady who applauded Bosco’s owners for taking such good care of their pet but says she lives next to someone who has pigs who does not. The stench is overwhelming. One does not have to do “factory farming” to create a nuisance for one’s neighbors. A single large dog whose owners never pick up his poop can be a problem, let alone a couple of small pigs. That’s not to say they should be banned, but how with such a limited animal control budget can we hope to police these situations? The attitude among many at the meeting appeared to be “we’re good people, we’re a community, we know each other, we help each other out.” I’m sure that’s true but it’s naive to assume that everybody who wants to raise livestock in Alameda has the same sense of community and values. This movement like any will have dedicated followers as well as people who are just caught up in the “fad of the moment” and will soon tire of the cost and hard work involved in doing it properly. Thanks to Paris Hilton’s penchant for purse pets, our shelters are still jammed with chihuahuas. Best case scenarios are not the only things that should be considered when drafting new laws.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 26, 2013 @ 10:35 am

    • @8 – Good point. I think that this is what having these laws in place would address. If you had a neighbor with smelly conditions or too many animals or inhumane situations or too close to your house, you’d have a recourse for dealing with them because they would be violating the city code. Well, at least for these ‘farm’ animals – I don’t know what the law is regarding conditions for conventional pets when it comes to smelly dogs’ back yards.

      Comment by Dan Wood — April 26, 2013 @ 10:46 am

  9. Well said. We have enough evidence of the reality and consequences of rezoning. The ordinances and residential zoning was enacted in the first place to address the issue of live animal agriculture next to high density living. Which categorically and historically creates animal welfare, public sanitation and health concerns.

    To naively rezone, on a self regulatory basis, is an exact recipe for creating an expensive mess to correct in about ten years time.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 10:44 am

  10. I just want to point out that this is not rezoning. I don’t know if you are using the word “rezoning” loosely, but no one is advocating for changing a R-2 zone to agricultural uses. There are currently laws in Alameda regulating (or not regulating) the keeping of farm animals in Alameda, these ordinances will not changing zoning, just set parameters.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 26, 2013 @ 10:47 am

  11. Might be a Pig to you. Film starts at 8.00 minutes in.

    Pig in a Poke

    Comment by Green Acres is Where I want to be — April 26, 2013 @ 10:56 am

  12. @8: Denise raises a key point: how DO you make sure that people take adequate care of their animals–or their homes or anything else, for that matter–in an urban environment?
    I suspect that this “standards and enforcement” aspect of the Alameda Municipal Code (AMC) needs some work for animals of all types–even, perhaps, humans.

    As an apartment owner in a pet-free complex, I do not have a proverbial canine in this fight, but I think the proposals presented last night make pretty good sense, as long as
    high standards of care are maintained to protect property values and neighbor relations in Alameda’s close quarters.

    Should we require those raising animals like bees or chickens to obtain a license and meet certain inspection standards?
    I’d rather not go there, but we al;ready require licenses for dogs and cats and have pet care and abuse ordinances on the books in the AMC….

    Licensing would help ensure accountability, IMHO, and that is what is needed if this practice becomes widespread. And not every animal owner is accountable for her/his animal’s care, as we all know: it is those exceptions/”bad apples” who need licensing, not responsible chicken raisers and beekeepers….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 26, 2013 @ 10:57 am

  13. changing zoning to include tailor made “live animal agriculture” ordinances and the failed attempt at including slaughter, in most surrounding bay area cities, equates to rezoning to me. (I do not know if that would mean I am referring to it loosely)?

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 11:04 am

  14. Unsuprisingly. Action Alameda jokes that city council are feral animals

    Comment by BoboTheClown — April 26, 2013 @ 11:06 am

  15. JD, zoning would mean the type of building that can be placed on a certain piece of land: residential, commercial, open space, mixed-use, etc. The zoning of parcels of land in Alameda would not change (meaning that no one’s house will be down zoned from residential to agriculture or farming) but there will be an ordinance dictating parameters of uses. As I mentioned, right now, Alameda no rules regarding slaughter so, if I understand what happened in El Cerrito correctly, the lack of an outright ban is sort of a tacit agreement that slaughter is not illegal in the city.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 26, 2013 @ 11:22 am

  16. JD, I’m curious where you’re getting the idea that tweaking these ordinances is all about allowing people to raise animals to be “slaughtered for consumption” (#1). I know the people who are involved in this project (and I support them). They are not involved in a region-wide effort to get ordinances on the books allowing for home slaughter — and I myself have less than zero interest in doing that. Perhaps it would help if you asked the people involved what we’re aiming for before accusing us of being part of some other covert trend. I.e., My general sense is that people here want eggs, dairy products, wool, and pets — not meat.

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 26, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  17. Bobo the Clown it looks like AA gave the City Council a Huge Upgrade.

    Comment by City Council Has Been Upgraded — April 26, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

  18. One other comment I want to add to JD’s comment. In many rural communities where the lot sizes are much larger than a city Lot, barn animals are restricted for the very reasons JD mentions. Barn animals are allowed in large acreage subdivisions where there is plenty of land to care for them. The smells, the fleas, the rodents, and the health hazards due to animal diseases are cited as the main reason for the deed restrictions.

    Here’s a common deed restriction you’ll see in some of the rural developments:

    “No animals, livestock or poultry of any kind shall be raised, bred or kept on any Lot, except that dogs and cats or other household pets may be kept provided that they are not kept, bred, or maintained for any commercial purpose”.

    I find it interesting that we are choosing to move in the opposite direction — I hope we fully grasp what we’re about to do.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 26, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

  19. It would be interesting to see if barn animals or livestock is mentioned in any of Alameda’s CC& R’s. I guess even if they are — a City Ordinance would over ride it; but I’m just concerned that most of us urban folk have no experience in farming and therefore are not familiar with the disadvantages of the proposed ordinance. I personally like the idea of chickens and goats, etc. but I appreciate hearing both sides of the argument before we move forward. Thanks JD.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 26, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

  20. In every other city surrounding us the slaughter issue is what it has come down to, and those wanting the live animal agriculture have fought attempts to explicitly prohibit slaughter.
    My concerns were confirmed last night when a number of people expressed the desire to be allowed to slaughter, that there is nothing wrong with that, and there was at that point the ONLY applause the entire night

    Please let me know now if you are currently in your working group with the city drawing up ordinances that these animals will be “pets” and “slaughter will be forbidden”.

    As for my being called a “professional protestor” in your chicken group page today, that is laughable I do not think I have ever even attended a protest in my life that I can recall.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  21. Karen that is an issue you bring up as well. Was so surprising to me that such an important topic affecting everyone is happening so quickly and at the first meeting about it there was not experts representing all sides….

    It is just all happening without discussion and input….

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

  22. I think it’s deplorable that some of the chicken folks are attacking JD, and jumping to the conclusion that she is accusing them of any nefarious agenda. She is simply pointing out the problem with a small group of like-minded people being the principal architects of the ordinance changes. All sides should be heard in order for the City to make wise choices. Taking immediate offense that anyone would dare to suggest that your well-meaning group might not have considered all the raminfications is a sign that she is absolutely correct that your passion for your pursuits may be blinding you to possible problems down the road. There are people, yes even in Alameda, who might now or in the future use the ordinances in ways you never dreamed of to do nightmarish things. Refusing to even allow an intelligent discussion of possible problems is foolish. We do not need to be in two camps on this issue. There can be compromise. Let’s all work to really be as nice as we’d like people to think we are.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 26, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

  23. I don’t think anyone here has “attacked” JD, I think they are trying to engage in a rational discussion, but if challenging JD’s assertions are immediately going to be chalked up to an “attack” that’s a sure fire way to halt any meaningful discussion about the topic.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 26, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

  24. I read a quote yesterday from Alex N. saying “are there no standards of humane care for these types of animals for cities”, he was searching and could not find any. There are none, and yes allowing those wanting the use of the animals to be the only people at the table… when the city is admittedly stepping into uncharted territory….does not seem wise.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

  25. I would imagine Denise’s comment was a logical response to my comment about the fact that on the chicken group website I am referred to as someone that does “not live in Alameda” “A professional protestor” and other nonsense.

    As my intro at the meeting stated I work closely and am close friends with, many people across the US that raise chickens and other animals, they just do so in rural areas on acreage.

    So lets end the framing of my comments or thought process, as being against the people at the meeting or anyone else.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

  26. I’ll also point to this article from Mother Jones which addresses some of the issues that have arisen around this discussion including animal shelter overcrowding and property values

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 26, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  27. The author describes how she slaughters her Turkeys in her Berkeley home and the neighbor kids have come to watch. She misquotes one animal services officer in the article that was upset about that later.
    The article above is from a year and a half ago entitled “Oakland Animal Services A Farm?” and then goes on to describe the number of farm animals they took in in one two week period and how they cannot house them. The farm animals they take in are not just the result of Cock fighting operations they bust as was stated in the meeting last night.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

  28. JD: just to clarify your position, because I’m not clear where you are coming from. Are you advocating for eliminating all keeping of backyard farm animals in Alameda or a certain subset? Or is it that you are against slaughtering of said animals? Or is it both?

    I, personally, don’t have a dog in this fight since as much as my husband wants fresh eggs, it’s hard enough to take care of the cats and kids we have. I’m just curious as to why you seem to be so passionate against what appears to be a pretty reasonable ordinance to allow for some folks with the inclination to not have to do so on the fringes of the law.

    I’ll point out that the Mother Jones article was posted on in Feb 2012 and the link you posted was from August 2011.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 26, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  29. 23. JD herself said that these efforts are meant to allow people to “slaughter animals for consumption” in comment number 1. I’m not attacking her — I’m genuinely asking where she got that impression about the Alameda efforts, because I have not seen a strong interest in slaughter here. It almost looks like she’s blurring what has happened in other cities with what is happening here. (p.s. talk about attacking — yikes! Look at your own comment!)

    26. I asked today if you live in Alameda on that listserve. I didn’t state it. And I asked, again, because I am curious where you got the idea that people in Alameda are strongly interested in slaughter.

    As for no discussion or public participation….wasn’t that the point of last night’s meeting?

    21. I think the public health issue is one to consider. But it might help to remember that dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, lizards, and pocket pets all get internal parasites, external parasites, and diseases — yet we let them not only into our backyards but our homes, schools, parks, offices, even hospitals. As I noted last night, education and good animal husbandry helps to prevent these problems.

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 26, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

  30. I explained where I got my idea many comments back in 21

    If Someone could let us know specifically what the working group has done to establish humane care standards and prevent slaughter that would be great.

    Have seen zero evidence of it and will be thrilled to be proven wrong

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

  31. Where do I get my passion, that would stem from being ultra informed on these issues and firmly grounded in reality.

    The fact that the Mother Jones article was after the information was published on the Oakland shelter website reveals the article did not accurately portray the state of affairs.
    There has been no resolution to the issue of urban live animal agriculture flooding shelters and rescues and farm sanctuaries with needy species

    Point being there is no infrastructure currently to deal with the inevitable result of this movement

    It falls not on the proponents currently, but those who likely oppose it, to deal with the animals rejected from live animal urban farming

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

  32. 24. & 30. Yikes! I’m from New York. Get used to it (Ulster County that is, apple orchards, grape vineyards, horse farms, etc.). This is me restrained. I’m sorry if I hurt anybody’s feelings using the word “attack”. Is the phrase “snarky comments” too strong? You seem to be determined to be offended and threatened by anything other than a rousing endorsement of everything you and your friends are currently doing or might do in the future, when in fact, the real concern is about people you probably haven’t met yet. They are waiting to see how friendly our laws will be to whatever they have in mind and if they allow slaughter and someone lives somewhere where the laws don’t, they might decide to move here. Also, please remember that as many people as you personally know doing what you are doing, there are 75,000 people in Alameda and I’m pretty sure you are not personally acquainted with and can attest to the character and motives of all of them. Also, I’m surprised that you did not hear the several people who spoke at the meeting who admitted that they do kill and eat their animals. Slaughter conjures images of throat-slitting and carnage but in this context includes neck wringing, drowning and any other way in which one might convert the fluffy bunny into rabbit stew or Henny Penny into coq au vin. The laws will also stay in place for a very long time, so it is important to consider what unintended consequences might occur in the future.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 26, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

  33. Please Denise, you can’t clutch the pearls and say that the “attacks” on JD are deplorable and then say that other people are offended when they point out that you are using loaded language. I wasn’t offended and I don’t think anyone else was either, just pointing out that “attack” is a loaded term and it sets up a dynamic where people who feel “attacked” act like a victim and it shuts down perfectly reasonable dialogue because others may not want to be perceived as being aggressive.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 26, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

  34. JD: I didn’t ask where you got your passion, I’m asking what your end goal is. What is your ideal ordinance for Alameda when it comes to backyard farm animals.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 26, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

  35. I was raised in a farm town. I was active in 4H for most of my youth. I’ve worked in veterinary hospitals, on horse farms, and with animal rescue groups. I’ve also researched and written quite a bit about humane (and inhumane) husbandry and slaughter methods. So yes, I am fully aware of what can go wrong with animals.

    I’m really not interested in your attacks on and assumptions about my motives, character, and knowledge, however, despite also being an east coaster. So I’m bowing out of any more engagement with you. Happy to talk with others about the issue — I think discussing the many different angles on this is good.

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 26, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  36. That was aimed at #33, btw. Working off iPad — frustrating!

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 26, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

  37. Again no specifics whatsoever on what they are proposing regarding slaughter and humane care. I can draw the obvious conclusion from that.

    What do I want? A broad coalition working on this issue. Spoke to someone that was on the working group in Oakland this am. He is sending what they came up with as a final version. It has been shelved by the city but the final version does not allow backyard slaughter.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    • #38 — I didn’t respond because I am not on the core working group for the ordinances ( although as I said before, I support the hard work they have put into this). I am sure someone else will respond. I would give them awhile, though, given that it’s still working hours.

      I’m wondering if it’s possible that you saw what was happening in other cities and too hastily assumed the group here had the same motives? This isn’t an attack, btw, just wondering if this where some of the confusion arose.

      Comment by Susan Davis — April 26, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

  38. #38, No, JD you can not draw an obvious conclusion from that. The proposed ordinance changes (They are not zoning changes by the way – someone who is truly “informed” about the issues would know that) do not change the status quo at all regarding slaughtering. Whatever is allowed or not allowed now would not change. Therefore, in your repeated allegations last night (yes I was there) that this whole process is designed to promote backyard slaughtering, you were defaming people for actions for which you had not one thread of evidence. The only document (and I seriously doubt you have even reviewed it) that has come up regarding backyard farming is a brief matrix that deals with number of animals to be kept and potential fees to be collected. Show me, since you are the self proclaimed “expert” where the matrix talks about slaughter, and where for that matter the current code deals with animal slaughter. Back up your expertise with more than just an anecdote about your friend in Tennessee, and then maybe people will listen.

    Comment by notadave — April 26, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

  39. Hi Susan,

    The lack of clear explicit prohibitions to the slaughter issue has created the grey area within which the backyard slaughter is occurring in the surrounding cities. So when expanded live animal agriculture is being proposed here without the necessary explicit prohibition of backyard slaughter…

    Anyone at the meeting heard numerous people say they are engaged in backyard slaughter currently and should be allowed to be and there was actual applause. That issue brought the only applause of the evening. In addition I heard absolutely nothing about standards of care.

    With this activity potentially impacting everyone if it becomes widespread practice , I feel everyone needs to be involved in hashing out these issues.
    Even bringing them up in the first place is the first step.

    What the ordinances have been is largely irrelevant as this is quite a new issue and the ordinances will expand these practices. Which means over the next few years the full effects will be felt by the community.

    Comment by JD — April 26, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

  40. 39. While you are taking the high road, please take the time to carefully read my comments and realize that you have twisted what I said and misrepresented and misunderstood my reasons for saying so. I am not “against” you or anybody else. I am simply in favor of hearing all sides and sensed by the tone and the comments directed at dissenting opinions here and at the meeting that there seems to be a great deal of push back and offense taken where none was intended. Your comment in 36. only proves my point. It only apparently gives me the last word between us. Thanks for that! 😉

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 26, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  41. OK, so the Alameda code on slaughter defaults to the California code on slaughter (that’s CSC 19501 – Methods of slaughter) which requires a humane slaughter and gives explicit detail on that subject. So we already have a law about slaughter in this city, it’s just the state law.

    In addition, Alameda has a specific law about animal welfare that applies to all animals, whether domestic pets or livestock. That’s ACC 24-1.1 – Conditions Declared a Nuisance, in particular subsection (a). So livestock animals are already protected under existing law.

    It’s currently entirely legal for me to buy a live goat and slaughter it in my back yard for my own consumption, as long as I do not keep it alive overnight (and probably even then; the law is fuzzy on what duration of time is definitely “keeping” an animal). This even though my lot does not meet the requirements for keeping goats. So to say the proposed code change is about slaughter is to simply not understand the existing laws about animals and animal husbandry at all.

    And regarding zoning laws, as already noted this is not a proposed change to zoning. But it is also incorrect to state that zoning laws were intended to keep residences and agriculture from mixing. Zoning laws were first enacted in 1916 to prevent skyscraper developers from completely shading city streets and blocking light for lower buildings. Shortly thereafter they began to be used to prevent mixing industrial uses and residential. It was only about fifty years later that the anti-livestock ordinances started showing up, and they are well known to be part of an attempt to shield white suburbs from the horrors of having to live with immigrants and “coloured” people, so maybe that’s not a line of reasoning that anybody should be getting behind.

    Comment by Ayse — April 26, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

  42. I have a couple of points, the first is just on the meeting dynamics last night, and the second is regarding the actual nuts and bolts of what we were supposed to be discussing last night.

    I was also at most of the meeting last night, and spent much of my day today trying to put my finger on why I was so irked after I left. I fully agree that it is difficult to present an opposing view in a meeting full of supposedly like minded people. Perhaps JD, you were feeling irritable for not having been informed of this meeting before-hand, or perhaps having animals in the backyard just irritates you, but your delivery seemed arrogant, not brave. You assumed that we dumb farm fans know little and care less about what is involved in raising farm animals. Your assumption was that you were THE expert in the room, with real facts and real information gathered from around the country. With all due respect JD, you did not come to that meeting to discuss anything, you came with a bee and a sheep and a chicken in your bonnet. You approached this group who passionately believes in, and practices humane backyard animal husbandry as if we are a bunch of idiots that have no idea what we have gotten ourselves into. It would have benefitted us all if you saw us as people who actually know exactly what we are doing, and perhaps just have a different take than you. My apologies if that seems attacking, but I was on the receiving end of your presentation, and can think of a dozen ways you could have introduced your concerns without alienating and insulting an entire group of people.

    Other people, both at the meeting and on this page, have brought up concerns about hygeine, disease, predation, humane treatment, irresponsible neighbors, abandoned animals, to slaughter or not to slaughter, larger livestock etc. and these are all legitimate and real issues to discuss. I think all of us are willing to discuss this and learn from each other, and create reasonable limits in the updated zoning laws.

    I was actually surprised when slaughter was brought up by folks, it had not really crossed my mind in connection with my chicken flock. That said, I have friends in Mendocino, Oakland, Chico and Santa Cruz who slaughter their birds. Only one of them lives in a rural area. I know there is quite a movement for folks to be self sufficient and avoid supporting factory farming. I am not sure I have the stomach for it, and barely eat meat as it is, but am curious what is driving the opposition to this practice. If it is for your own consumption, why is it an issue? There should not be a public health concern unless it is being done with firearms or in a very unsanitary manner. Is it just that people don’t want their neighbors killing things next door to them? I’m not sure how I feel, but tend to think it should be ok. Anyone have any insight? We can go fishing and clean our fish in the yard, why not chickens? I’m not advocating that it should be allowed necessarily, just wondering why it is a problem.

    Predators: I had raccoons and possums breaking into my house long before I had chickens. I actually had to get a dog to keep the coons out. Good predator proofing should address this issue.

    Irresponsible neighbors: report them – that is what zoning laws are for. Guidelines that are enforceable.

    Abandoned animals: Many years ago – 20 plus, it was common practice to go to the local feed store and buy baby ducks and chicks for easter presents. Dyed pastel colors and stuck in a basket for a gift. I promise you these chicks ended up at the animal shelter, or dead from not being cared for. Obviously the abandoning of animals, whether they are farm animals or dogs or cats continues. This is the one reason I am not opposed to a permitting fee for chickens, it may offset some of that cost. Although, I imagine it is a small number of chickens. I think that there was an idea proposed for a poultry alliance as well. Great idea. That group could help re-home lost chickens.


    Comment by Levis O — April 26, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

  43. There is a movement in some cities to increase access to locally raised meats – and small scale slaughter houses are seen as a way to accomplish this. I’m not sure what the definition of a small scale slaughter house is — but I hope the ordinance addresses this issue. Being informed of the pro’s and con’s of it is a necessary part of this process. My preference is that we don’t go down this road.

    Here’s an ordinance in Texas that was done that might work for Alameda:

    Residents can raise chickens only for the purpose of eating their eggs. Residents also must have a chicken coop built to specified standards and maintain the chickens’ health and sanitation.

    The permits for the chickens and the chicken coops will put the burden of health and sanitation and disease control on the urban farmer —- giving his/her surrounding neighbors some recourse if those standards aren’t met.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 27, 2013 @ 7:22 am

  44. As for what I said about zoning at the meeting it was factually correct. Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906 about the working conditions of immigrants and the deplorable conditions they endured in slaughterhouses and living next to stockyards. It was one of the main inspirations for the concept of city planning which had public health and social workers addressing living conditions in cities.
    City planning was taken over largely by architects and later used for racial steering, however the original impetus was separating animal agriculture and its negative impacts and dense living conditions for humans nearby.

    Comment by JD — April 27, 2013 @ 8:45 am

  45. Intense could best describe my demeanor at the meeting.
    The fact that a working group composed entirely of proponents of live animal agriculture in Alameda are working with the city to craft ordinances which effect us all, would be the reason for my intensity.
    Had anyone truly wanted to hear opposing voices they would have been invited into the process by now.
    Alameda County Vector Control spoke to me after the meeting and expressed alarm and concern they have not been included in the process.
    I am unaware of anyone other than a city official working with proponents.
    Often in one sided “meetings” people are asked if they have ” questions”, that is what happened right after the initial presentation. I did not have questions there was no one to ask questions to.
    The issue was being framed so narrowly and if one did not understand the issues at hand one would not have after the initial presentation.
    That would be fine with those currently involved, as then the sticky contentious issue of animal welfare, backyard slaughter, and public health and sanitation concerns would not have to be addressed.

    My agenda was to make sure these issues enter the mind of Alameda citizens quickly. Regardless of semantics people in Alameda believe they live in a residential area. If animal agriculture is in wide spread use their are implications for everyone. Animals classified as agricultural in nature and for human use or consumption are largely exempt from regulations which protect companion animals. They can and are being slaughtered in people’s yards in the Bay Area, The general public is largely unaware of that fact.

    If ordinances are being “updated” and proponents of live animal agriculture are crafting them there are implications for everyone.

    I have not had any clarification on classification on these requested species as pets or livestock and the slaughter issue.

    Have no idea where this will end up but as each city in the Bay Area is undergoing this process (and the debate has become quite contentious in each city), it is now hear in Alameda and I am a lifelong Alameda resident.

    I am surprised that anyone at the meeting would be surprised to hear the issues I brought up? The Bay Area represents the most culturally and politically diverse populations I can think of anywhere and most are quite informed.

    I do not think Alameda is or should be, immune to lively debate on such important subjects effecting our community.

    Comment by JD — April 27, 2013 @ 9:18 am


    Just found the above article in The Atlantic which perfectly illustrates my problem with the meeting the other night and the presentation and how the issue is being framed by the proponents.

    Comment by JD — April 27, 2013 @ 10:37 am

  47. One thing that I’m interested in (and to be fair, I missed the meeting) is the concern over slaughter, sanitation, etc. People are already keeping bees, rabbits, and chickens in Alameda. Is there a huge problem with rampant slaughter already? I’m not aware of any if there is. If there is not, why would new regulations suddenly create this problem? I’ve been involved in this issue in a couple of towns, and my experience is that backyard small animal keeping, including bees, has a fairly high bar to beginning, and it’s labor-intensive. It’s just not fun and easy, so generally people who do it are invested in good practices.

    In Oakland, there were a large number of people who were vegans, and didn’t want other people slaughtering because they were opposed to all animal consumption. It’s a difficult point to negotiate. I don’t know anyone’s motivation in this discussion, but I do know that that was an issue before.

    Comment by Stefaneener — April 27, 2013 @ 11:09 am

  48. It is not a problem as it is not in wide use at all. If it becomes in wide use, without ordinances pertaining to the issues of slaughter, sanitation, noise and public health, there will certainly be problems.

    You are also right is not fun or easy. However, as we know people accumulate live animals including pets, in a somewhat casual way, not understanding how much work they require. In the pet world this has led to a situation where the number of companion animals acquired each year is outpaced by the number needing rescue each year. There is a gigantic expensive time consuming nationwide infrastructure developed to deal with that.

    If urban agriculture catches on where is the infrastructure to deal with the same issue we will face. As I stated in the meeting and earlier here, this is already happening everywhere urban agriculture has caught on.

    So many people do not even have slaughter on their radar screen and are not thinking of these issues as they contemplate acquiring chickens or rabbits. The presentation the other night was reality free in my view as it had pictures and graphics of rabbits, chickens, cats and dogs and Bosco the pet pig. People think what is being proposed is pet farm animals. Numerous people shook their heads once slaughter entered the issue, as they don’t want that, but might like the idea of having chickens and rabbits.

    Those that understand what they are doing and want to raise the animals for food will not burden the animal rescue system as they will slaughter any unwanted animals or are prepared for what it takes to house and keep them as they are experienced animal husbandry people. It is all the inexperienced people that will acquire rabbits and chickens, tire of the work, and then of course do not want them killed so will want “rescue” to take them.

    Without clear cut legislative boundaries about what are we doing and allowing….which animals are pets or agricultural stock, what is to be done with them. Are they to be slaughtered or not. This leaves so many grey areas within which problems are occurring.

    The only reason vegans appear to be the opposition in Oakland is they are often the most outspoken and aware of animal related issues. There are many other issues related to urban farming and there are many groups and individuals involved in this discourse.

    Comment by JD — April 27, 2013 @ 11:31 am

  49. JD, you are a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately fresh air doesn’t easily make its way into closed minds. The biggest problem is not with the few ‘my chicken/goat/sheep/rabbit will be part of my household” crowd. The problem will arise when the various cultures within this city treat their animals as they are treated in their parent cultures, like, for instance, a traditional method of preparing a kid goat for the spit by inflating the critter with air until it resembles a balloon then hanging it alive for a day or so to make the meat more tender. How would the PC crowd address another culture’s method of food preparation without committing their mortal sin of insensitivity. (I didn’t make this up, this was the standard method for our Alameda neighbor’s kid goat spit prep)

    Eventually the city will have to confront animal issues which will range from the stench to the potential spread of disease pathogens and vector control. The city does not have the resources for addressing these issues, and as I stated in the previous post, give it ten years and those who implement this bad idea will be hanged in effigy.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 27, 2013 @ 5:56 pm


    “The most recent outbreak of avian flu, the strain H7N9, has killed 22 people and infected 108. The cases were thought to be contained within China until Wednesday, when a Taiwanese man was confirmed to be infected with the virus.”

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 27, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

  51. Ahh your comments bring to mind my favorite saying, “a fool throws a stone into the sea and 100 wise men cannot get it out”.

    Comment by JD — April 27, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

  52. Wow, Jack, that sure was a nice way to bring it all back to the racist roots of the initial anti-livestock ordinances. Exactly what culture is it that traditionally inflates live kid goats with air like a balloon? It stays alive despite this treatment? For a whole day being hung upside down? Google knows nothing about this as a traditional practise, which makes me think you are just making it up to be shocking. But feel free to correct me with details on the culture that traditionally prepares meat this way.

    Also, JD, you really don’t know much about architectural history. _The Jungle_ was a spur for the *union* movement, not zoning ordinances. And city planning started in the 19th century, unrelated to agriculture. You can read about this on Wikipedia. And with critical thinking, since people were keeping animals and doing small-scale agriculture in cities until the 60’s. If a 1906 novel was supposed to make that movement happen, it wasn’t very effective.

    Comment by Ayse — April 27, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

  53. Actually Upton Sinclair hoped The Jungle would spur gov action for workers rights however it did not, that was left up to the workers to do for themselves through unions.
    The gov or powers that be, did have the take away from the book and the reality it represented to, begin dividing agricultural and residential zoning.

    Comment by JD — April 27, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

  54. Thank you Ayse. Well stated.

    Comment by Levis O — April 27, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

  55. Yeah, the goat stays alive and I didn’t say anything about it being hung upside down, you apparently made that part up to disparage a culture. Not sure what race the goats were but if you like you can get in touch with me and I’ll introduce you to the cook. LD has my permission for you to get my email address if you’d like to be experience the real world. By the way the goats were hung underneath a Victorian rear upper porch made into a laundry room. An original Alameda Victorian massacred into a four unit rental.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 27, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  56. Some cultures believe in “conscious slaughter” of animals, which is protracted and noisy, as the victim resists entirely and ceaselessly. In addition filling livestock with air or water is a known practice. This is often done to artificially and temporarily increase weight for an immediate sale. Perhaps that was responsible for what Jack described.

    This would differ from some proponents of backyard slaughter in Oakland, one of whom described her method as “supplying scotch to the animal and then slitting the throat over a bucket to let it bleed out”.

    Many proponents of backyard slaughter try to justify it on grounds of “religious preference”. At the meeting two women let me know that “Muslims like to slaughter goats and need to be allowed to do so”. I replied that Hindus Jains and Buddhists do not, so that is irrelevant.

    Cultural or religious practices should not dictate municipal policy in this area anymore than they should say in the area of women’s rights.

    How and when animals are slaughtered, needs to be governed according to standards incorporating more science based actualities.

    Comment by JD — April 27, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

  57. Goat Meat

    Goat is the most widely consumed meat in the world. It is a staple of Indian, Mexican, Greek and Italian cuisines. China is the world’s largest producer. Koreans think it increase the sex drive of women.

    Young or baby goat meat that has been marinated for some period of time is said to the tastiest.One tip on preparing goat from Madam Guinaudeau’s Traditional Moroccan Cooking goes: “Make a hole with the point of the knife just above the knee joint of one of the legs between flesh and skin. Blow through the opening until the air gets to the fore legs and make them stick up.”

    What do you call an unemployed goat?

    Comment by Billy Idol — April 28, 2013 @ 12:31 am

  58. Cultural and religious practices absolutely dictate policy if that policy intends to restrict the ability of those cultures and those religions to practice freely. If you have not yet read the legal opinion crafted for the City of El Cerrito which outlines these concerns, perhaps you should.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 28, 2013 @ 6:55 am

  59. I have read it. Laws can be crafted so that if someone feels it is their “cultural or religious preference” to not hire women say, or harm them in some way, they are not then just allowed to do so. Nough said, I guess you missed my earlier point.

    Comment by JD — April 28, 2013 @ 8:24 am

  60. Jack: “Not sure what race the goats were”

    I didn’t ask what race the goats were. I asked what culture supposedly traditionally slaughters animals this way. I know a lot about traditional slaughter practises, both the good and the ugly, and I have never heard of inflating a live animal and then hanging it — right side up, you say? that must be an interesting rig — alive for a day in order to kill it for consumption. I’d just like to hear from you which culture this is supposed to be, since you know enough to think this kind of behaviour is traditional and not just animal cruelty. I’m wondering as well why you don’t report this behaviour to the police since it is straight up illegal in Alameda and in California in general to torture animals.

    Or you could just be making the whole story up to scare people about those horrible immigrants and their backwards, ignorant practises. Put some detail up here and prove me wrong.

    Comment by Ayse — April 28, 2013 @ 8:45 am

  61. Since this debate is just beginning I think it is important to be detailed. Not everyone is up to speed on this issue, in fact most are not yet aware it exists.
    I did not mean to sound flippant Lauren…
    Here is what I meant. Other cultures and religions do a lot of things that are not legal in the US. Many cultures, including some Swiss farmers, raise and eat dog meat.
    In the US dogs have protected status as pets or companion animals. A Swiss farmer could not move to Alameda and raise and slaughter dogs or kill them in his or her yard just because it is a traditional Swiss farming practice.
    The proponents of the movement refer to the species they want to include as pets in a way that confuses people. Are these animal wanted as “pets”, with the protections that includes…or livestock, which are often exempt from any protections.
    We can have laws protecting dogs without being culturally insensitive.
    This issue has nothing to do with religious or cultural sensitivity, that is just what proponents of the Bay Areas urban farming movement are using as one possible way to promote or push backyard farming and slaughter through city hall.
    The classifications need to be honestly and accurately codified. If livestock, then backyard slaughter and various cultural and religious practices may come into play.My point exactly, as these animals will have no protection and backyard farming and slaughter comes to Alameda.
    That is the choice which Alamedans need to make, the informed choice.
    This is being pushed through quickly and quietly in an attempt to somehow avoid the real debate.

    Backyard food production comes with many considerations and consequences. In my area of work I travel around and see first hand homesteaders operations and let me tell you there is a huge disparity in people’s ability to properly care for livestock. In rural areas there is a buffer zone so what your neighbor is doing does not directly affect you.
    In Alameda there is no buffer zone.

    Comment by JD — April 28, 2013 @ 8:51 am

    Above is a link to information on The China Study. To date the largest most comprehensive epidemiological study on the human diet.
    It concludes a diet composed of plant food is not only the healthiest diet for humans but consuming animal products leads to all the major diseases.
    I say this because part of the urban animal agricultural movements argument is this is necessary for us to feed ourselves here in cities. They have linked the admirable interest in urban vegetable growing to animal agriculture. There need be no link for people to grow food in cities. Plant food which creates no animal welfare, public health or sanitation issues like animal agriculture does.
    It is some people’s choice or preference to consume animal products is all, and they wish to raise animals for food and slaughter on site.

    Comment by EM — April 28, 2013 @ 9:22 am

  63. 64. I wouldn’t say that the argument is necessity, but relative to the dominant habits of the culture it certainly seems a viable option. It’s all relative. The study is compelling, but citing one Wikipedia link is hardly comprehensive.

    But thanks for being honest in your position. I don’t know that I disagree, but in reading the Mother Jones article ( 27 above) it did seem like people opposing urban live stock in Oakland were really motivated by their personal beliefs about animal consumption ( i.e. they were a bunch of fascist vegans). Pardon my attempt at cynical humor, it’s just ironic that in urban planning, some environmentalists end up biggest opponents to smart growth and arguing over density concerns. In this venue, where the dominant culture eats tons of “factory farm” meat and holding ponds for pig manure in commercial pork production are laying waste to the water aquifers almost like fracking, we have a similar resistance from a movement of individuals who in the bigger picture might be considered allies of those with whom they disagree. I know that the evils of agribusiness have no bearing on efficacy of urban agriculture, my point is about the irony who ends up debating whom.

    I’m sorry I didn’t make the meeting just to have the ability to observe J.D. from my own biased view point. I know Dan Wood, Susan and dave, which gives me a bit of insight. I could easily shift firmly to their side based on my knowledge of them after reading their critique of J.D.s presentation. But I wasn’t there so I ponder a bit longer. There as so many compelling issues these days and zealots on all sides. It’s hard not to get a fat head and sound strident if you perceive yourself as well informed, AND are in a minority. Forcing myself to be as circumspect as possible, on the one hand I have no real problem with the ordinance changes being adopted ( I live next door to four chickens and periodically throw them back over the fence), but I see room for debate, or at least extending the discussion. Especially compared to other discussions on this blog and elsewhere on the Internets I find the posts by JD to be pretty reasonable and not something I can dismiss wholesale. The point in the Atlantic article about the Oakland study did seem salient and it was co-written by PhD candidate, ouch.

    Comment by M.I. — April 28, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  64. I’m negotiating a job in Berkeley where chickens coop needs relocation. The clients had a complaint about mites which required them to move their coops once before. I’m not certain of the details, but I believe the complaining neighbors had a problem with another critter like mice which were determined to have brought the mites and the pest control people fingered the proximity of the chickens to the dwelling. The chickens had been running free in the yard and had to be confined to a large pen. This is one tiny anecdote and my facts my not even be precise, I’m just sayin’. In fact considering the problem of urban rodent populations I’m uncertain how moving chickens an extra twenty feet away would solve the problem which makes me dubious of the diagnosis, but I’m not a biologist or expert in vector control. I’ve thought about avian and swine viruses having their origins rooted in essential cohabitation of humans and live stock. PLEASE don’t think I’m trying to seriously suggest that is an imminent risk, but as a lay person it seems like something I would like to better understand when considering the potential slovenly urban farmer. What comes to mind in that context is childhood vaccines and how some parents who now forgo vaccination for their kids who can essentially only get away with that risk because of the great success of vaccines in disease suppression. Others can judge whether that is a relevant comparison, but the question I’m having is what is the theoretical potential in worst case scenarios.

    It is tangential to the substantive issues at hand, but I’m struck by comments of supporters of those I previously described as ” fascists” in the M.J. article had who objected to their kids seeing back yard slaughter. One tried to suggest this would lead kids to try it out on household pets. If people didn’t read that and have time, it is amusing or something. This loops back to my first point in post 65 about those of us who at first glance might be easily fit under the same label, yet find ourselves in disagreement. Like the gun debate. I admire the activism and commitment of Paul English locally in the gun debate, but I cringed at the misinformation surrounding the guns being sold at Big Five. That was compounded by complaints about the location of the guns within the store. I personally think the Second Amendment has not only been railroaded by the majority of the current majority of the Supreme Court, but it has nothing to do with the personal right to own a gun and with regard to it’s original intent it’s irrelevant. Mr. English and I are probably closer in our view on gun control that the vast majority of Americans but when it comes to exposing our children to the “reality” of the world….. well, my second cup of coffee has made me expansive in considering the cascading linkage in the human endeavor to both survive and get along. Anybody want to debate the impact of domesticated outdoor cats on bird population?

    Comment by M.I. — April 28, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

  65. after thought on 66. yes I would eat a cat. rat’s? depends…

    Comment by M.I. — April 28, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

  66. who are we to presume? try a little curry….FYI biggest occupational hazard to rat catching in India is smoke inhalation. Also ironic that eating cows is taboo.

    Comment by M.I. — April 28, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

  67. 64. Low caloric intake is supposed to lend to longevity. essentially metabolizing food is hard on the body in the long run. In high school a guru from Sri Lanka came to Philadelphia who claimed not to eat and to be over two hundred years old. He died in 1998 but he was a fun guy.

    Comment by M.I. — April 28, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  68. Ayse

    #54 “…that sure was a nice way to bring it all back to the racist roots of the initial anti-livestock ordinances..”
    #62 “I didn’t ask what race the goats were. I asked what culture supposedly traditionally slaughters animals this way.”

    I thought, when you mentioned ‘racist roots’ you meant animal races in #54. Now I’m guessing what you meant was that certain humans take animal races into account when they formulate anti-livestock ordinances. If you had participated in the recent two-part series on this Blog concerning the depth of racism which permeated this Island in the recent past (before the Progressives took the reins of the city and reined in the baduns) you would understand my confusion. Hope we cleared that up.

    Now let’s address the inflated goat v culture issue. Perhaps the inflation of goats prior to throat slitting is not a culture-wide phenomena of a person’s parent country. Perhaps it’s a regional or even village method of food preparation. What difference does it make? Methods of food preparation may differ on the micro scale in some cultures but that shouldn’t invalidate or cause the method to be sneered at as treatment unbecoming of human v animal . One obvious employment of sneer methods employed to gain political results is the recent foie gras ban in CA. Foie gras is not banned in other states or in most of the rest of the world and probably doesn’t reflect any more than a tiny minority of people who know how to use a megaphone to sway opinion. My point is that usually when a rule or ordinance is passed, that rule or ordinance reflects the current state of mind (not the historical culture) of those who pass the R or O, not necessarily those who must abide by them.

    Back to the Island goat inflation issue. My memory isn’t what it once was so I asked my wife if she remembered the neighborhood inflated goat incident back when we lived in the eastern part of Alameda City. So she described it to me (her memory is sharp as a tack) and here’s her account: the kid goat was brought from the neighbor person’s home region, the kids (the kids of the inflator) next door played with the kid goat for a period of time in their back yard. When the goat was deemed ready to butcher it was strung up by its front legs and air was injected under the skin prior to its throat being slit and carcass gutted. The air between the skin and flesh makes the goat easier to skin.

    You asked why I didn’t report this incident to the police since apparently it appears to you as a case of animal cruelty. I assume that’s a serious question and a question like that asked in this day and age most likely is serious and would normally deserve a serious answer. However, a question like that if asked in those days would get you laughed off the Island. But, ‘now’ is this ‘day’ and this ‘age’ and because it is this day and age you bring up a serious point. That point; Don’t you think the Alameda Police force has better things to do then run around the Island investigating purported goat inflation and every other report of mistreatment of bees/rabbits/goats/sheep and chickens or even over-stuffing a pet goose? Believe me, in this day and age of high sensitivity to sensitivity those reports will take up many more columns in the local news rags.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 28, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

  69. In almost every case of Urban farming of note in Oakland there were numerous complaints, calls to code enforcement, lawsuits etc…The most noteworthy urban farm in Oakland is now no longer operating.
    Showing how bothersome it was to the neighbors.

    Comment by JD — April 28, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

    • Define urban farm JD, from # 72. I have several friends in Oakland with chickens, ducks, goats and a rooster. What makes something an urban farm of note?

      Comment by levisnp — April 28, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

  70. I’d like to explore ways to protect nearby neighbors from rodents, and other health and sanitation issues associated with backyard farm animals. Perhaps a bond can be posted (much like a construction performance bond) as part of the permit process at the cost of the urban farmer that would ensure that if an urban farmer is not in compliance with the code and there are damages associated with this practice, a neighbor can file a complaint and the bond proceeds can be used to cover the cost of their damages. This would penalize the urban farmer and force the urban farmer to use safer practices to reduce the chance of health and sanitation issues.

    The permit costs should also cover the cost of an Environmental Inspector (not sure if we have one — but if not, we need to hire one) that can be called out specifically for these type of inspections when necessary. In short, the permit costs should include the cost of a bond, an inspector and other related costs associated with this type of ordinance.

    These are all ideas that can strengthen the ordinance and ensure its success in Alameda. Finally — I am opposed to allowing backyard slaughter. I think it should be prohibited as part of this ordinance.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 29, 2013 @ 7:35 am

  71. The problem is city hall is currently, and will be, seeking ways only to cut city services, not expand. They are under a serious budget issue.
    Expanding animal agriculture opens up an entire new need for city services such as inspectors, vector control, code violation complaints, animal control, without the infrastructure or money to provide it.

    Ironically two years ago the city was seeking ways to eliminant the animal shelter from the cities funding responsibility. Putting the responsibility back on the public to fund the services it wants is in the plans. So after attempting to relieve itself of the animal shelter budget the city now would open up an entirely new area of animal related issues with no infrastructure or funding mechanism in place.

    Has anyone seen how long it takes the city currently to resolve any kind of dispute, be it barking dog or neighbors unsightly house issues.

    Comment by JD — April 29, 2013 @ 8:11 am

  72. By the way Karen, please come to the upcoming city meetings on this issues and bring your questions and concerns to the city. Right now I am the only identified individual that has any.

    In every other city that faced this issue debates became lively quickly…..most do not understand this issue is here now.

    Comment by JD — April 29, 2013 @ 8:15 am

  73. One quick point, plus two questions for JD:

    I agree that we should think about vector control (or general sanitation). But I’d like to point out that just as chicken coops can attract rats(because of the feed), so, too, can dog and cat food, bird seed, compost bins, garbage cans, piles of brush, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and trash cans on sidewalks and in parks. Perhaps it would be worth examining our current rules about rat -attracting conditions to see what’s already covered.

    JD, you said at the meeting last week that in order to raise chickens correctly, one would need to spend $15-$20/egg. By that measure, I should be spending more than $950/month on my chickens. (I get about a dozen eggs per week.) Although my chickens live in roomy, clean quarters, eat organic feed and plenty of vegetables, have room to free range,, and will be supported even after they stop laying, I am not spending that much. Can you elaborate on what goes into your calculation?

    Also, as someone who is on the board of FAAS, do you have access to statistics about how many chickens have been taken in by the shelter in the last 5 years? I’d be curious to know if the figure has risen as more Alamedans have gotten backyard flocks. I looked on the shelter website but it only lists dog and cats.

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 29, 2013 @ 8:41 am

  74. So in summary

    State laws control the slaughter of animals
    County codes and the City municipal code (24-1.1) control sanitation issues of keeping animals
    The proposed ordinance will control the number of animals

    Sounds like a good plan to me!

    Comment by notadave — April 29, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  75. Interesting article from 2002 in North Carolina:

    I think the important thing to remember is that changes in the law should also take into consideration not just what happened in the past or is happening presently but what might happen in the future. We are currently considering changing something that was last updated in the 1930s. Laws have a tendency to be around for a long time.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 29, 2013 @ 8:57 am

  76. The comment I made about the cost of eggs was in reference to many people thinking backyard chickens is a good way to have a steady supply of cheap eggs.
    However, when the realities of egg production sink in such as dealing with predation, dealing with bird illnesses and health issues, vector control, short and varying egg laying cycles, adding more chickens to the flock and keeping retired ones, desires to feed the chickens excellent quality food which many people want to, coop costs and often constant moderations to the environment, cleaning etc etc. many of the novices beginning the backyard chicken adventure calculate they spent 15-20 an egg.
    This is one reason for the deluge of poultry from this movement ending up in shelters and farm sanctuary rescues as people give up quickly determine it is to much trouble and cost to do it right.

    This is not an issue FAAS has been made aware of or discussed anymore than anyone else in the community.
    That will be changing across Alameda soon.

    I have a question for you Susan as I have not had any specifics on this issue from any of the proponents as to what they are suggesting to the city.

    You seem to have a background in animal husbandry. Therefore you, like me, are well aware of the drastic differences in people’s desires or abilities to practice good animal husbandry practices.
    As packed in as we are in Alameda have you no concern, if this practice becomes widespread, of the result of the absolute fact some backyard animal farmers will not practice good animal husbandry.

    From an animal welfare perspective there is no infrastructure to deal with that, none from a public health and sanitation perspective. These issues are best prevented in the beginning by addressing them and crafting law accordingly.

    No one in the room the other night need take offense, as one woman did, as to her particular husbandry practices. I do not even know anyone in that room that night and these issues have nothing to do with any individual in that room myself included. They involve a city crafting codes and ordinances which will apply to everyone.

    When high density living occurs in close proximity to animal agriculture all kinds of issues arise which affect everyone.

    The discussion, and participants in the discussion, needs to broaden widely and immediately.

    Comment by JD — April 29, 2013 @ 9:21 am

  77. Thanks for the article Denise, that was really interesting.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 29, 2013 @ 9:45 am

  78. Good article and points out the large discrepancy between peoples ability to witness animal death.

    A local butcher told me of how a month ago in Alameda an Anglo American man came into the store one sat carrying an entire dead carcass he had shot. It was to be butchered at the shop. The butcher told the man “you cannot just bring something like that in here”. “Why not”, asked the man. “Because it looks awful, the head is on” etc, said the butcher. So the hunter went to the parking lot, tossed the animal in the back of his truck, took out a huge knife and cut the head off and then carried it back in.

    Comment by JD — April 29, 2013 @ 10:12 am

  79. JD — I will keep a look out for the next meeting. Seems like the County Vector Control should weigh in on the ordinance as well. I’d like to him hear give us ideas on how to address some of these issues.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 29, 2013 @ 10:25 am

  80. There seem to be three separate issues being discussed, not sure that they all have to be answered at once. As Notadave mentions, we have laws that oversee slaughter, animal sanitation and also currently allow all the proposed animals to be kept in Alameda.

    It appears that the current proposal is to clarify and limit the number of animals. Seems like a good plan. If somehow it incentivizes thousands of households in the city to buy goats, then there may need to be changes made, with the licensing requirements, the city will be able to easily identify a trend if there’s an explosive growth in goat herding in Alameda. Perhaps when this goes to council, there can be an annual report for the first 5 years to see the impacts and react.

    If there are also needs to be stricter/clearer slaughter rules or animal sanitation rules, lets look at them and propose changes. This doesn’t have to be rolled into the farm-animal-limitation ordinance. Like the current proposal, it can be stand-alone work, it can begin now, it appears that there are passionate individuals who want to work on it. Instead of trying to stop one issue, why not put the effort into working on the one you care about (“you”= anyone who’s passionate about slaughter or animal sanitation).

    I’d suggest that starting from a point of stipulating the current rules and what problems there are would be helpful for the conversation, then solutions can be sought to fix the problems.

    Comment by jkw — April 29, 2013 @ 10:31 am

  81. #79 — On novice costs — yes, in the beginning, backyard eggs aren’t a huge bargain, due to the investment in a coop, equipment, etc. But spread out over the lifespan of a flock/backyard chicken project, the costs drop. I think it would be more fair to frame it that way.

    And yes, absolutely — I have a deep interest in animal welfare (and an equally deep interest in human perceptions of/relationships with animals, which makes this whole debate really interesting to me!). But as several commenters have noted, we have city, county, and state codes that deal with these issues. How do we handle people who don’t practice good husbandry/welfare toward their dogs, cats, or chickens now? And should we outlaw dogs because we’re concerned some people might do dog fighting — or cats, because we know some people hoard?

    I also think it’s possible that people in a dense area like Alameda will be forced to practice better husbandry just because the neighbors are so close. I.e., it’s not like Farmer Jones in a rural area, who can leave his cows standing knee-deep in manure because people can only smell it on the rare day the wind blows in a southeasterly direction. (Been there, smelled that, bad news). Here, if someone doesn’t clean the goat pen often enough, neighbors will notice right away.

    As a final note, I would really appreciate it if you would start saying that “some” proponents of backyard farming are into slaughtering. A lot of us here in Alameda, are not, and I think you might encounter less resistance if you could acknowledge that and try to work with us rather than against us. A number of people, for instance, have told me they’re worried you’re going to try to outlaw backyard chicken flocks — is that a concern you can address here?

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 29, 2013 @ 10:32 am

  82. I might like to keep chickens in my back yard someday, if my life slows down enough for me to be able to take care of them. That said, I am really concerned about anything that might add to the city’s burden to enforce. Someone in my neighborhood has had an obvious code violation for over 10 years, with complaints filed. Nothing has happened except that those who complained suffered. I am sure that the people presently writing the proposed regulations have only the best intentions, but I would like some safeguards against future livestock owners who would stretch any regulations to the max.

    I grew up in a county suburb next to a rooster that could not tell time and two horses that were very nice but generated a lot of flies. The regulations in the county where I lived were no more than one horse per person living on the property– I don’t remember what the rules were about chickens, but there was nothing preventing roosters. I support urban/suburban farming– my 85 year old mother still grows her vegetables on her property and has more than 80 fruit trees– but I want the city to be able to keep control of the situation with as little effort as possible, because it seems as if they are overburdened already. Would the permits be granted indefinitely or is there a time span after which they would expire?

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — April 29, 2013 @ 10:34 am

  83. 78. yeah Denise, great article. I particularly liked the Tyson Foods angle. I wonder how many of those neighbors bleating in complaint are meat eaters and if so where it is processed.

    p.s.- on 68. anybody who didn’t watch or didn’t get past rat innards to last three minutes I wanted to suggest skipping to the last part about the daughter of the subject rat killer going to school and his aspirations for her and his posterity in general. The girl is really lovely and these people maintain a lot of dignity despite their lot in life.

    Comment by MI — April 29, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

  84. Denise, what’s happening in North Carolina was happening right next door when we lived on Foley St. And I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts it’s still happening. And further, I say more power to the people who want to butcher their own goats/chickens/rabbits/sheep/pigs or bees in their back yard.

    However, now that all this is going mainstream it will end up as a typical bureaucratic mismanaged clusterf+++ and what was once an opportunity to participate in the back-home experience of other culture’s food preparation will become a glorious opportunity to roast your neighbors on their own goat spit.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 29, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  85. I hope City Council members take the opportunity to go on the backyard chicken tour but that they also attempt to visit other places that neighbors who have issues may suggest, so they can see the whole range of what folks are doing. This will give them a better idea of how the laws should be written and what they might include.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 29, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

  86. #50, it is already happening (I’d wager, at about the level it will continue to happen) in Alameda, and I am unaware of any large problems. The people who want to do this are very likely already doing it. The city wants to refine existing uses — they are allowed now. It’s not as though updating regulations is going to somehow open the floodgates to thousands of people who have been chomping at the bit to house goats, pigs, rabbits, and chickens. In general, the growth of urban farming seems to have reached a reasonable level. The same way that since dogs are allowed, most folks who want a dog have one, but not everyone does, most of the people in Alameda who want a flock of chickens have one, and the ones that don’t aren’t likely to start with a change in the regulatory landscape.

    If someone knows facts about Alameda already being overwhelmed with nuisance, abuse, escape, and sanitation problems which are directly attributable to current urban farming in this city, I’d love to hear them.

    As jkw in #83 says, we have laws on the books. It really feels to me that people are using the city’s reasonable concern about having more up to date laws and seeking to enforce one view of human toward animal behavior over all others.

    Comment by Stefaneener — April 29, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

  87. I can’t see why we can’t use this opportunity to take a comprehensive approach and amend any current laws in place that are needed to ensure we address all concerns. I’m certainly for urban farming, but I’d like to see all the related addressed now while we have everyone’s attention.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 29, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

  88. Hi Susan,

    what I individually want in terms or outcome is not important. I have no more say in this than any other individual Alamedan.

    I think the information regarding this issue needs to be comprehensive and involve all those interested and compromises hashed out…

    Comment by JD — April 29, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

  89. I think some legitimate points have been presented here, as well as a healthy heaping of opinion and emotion. In trying to tease out what the issues are amid all these rich posts, I am left with many questions. The biggest is what exactly, and I mean very specifically, is the crux of the “opposition”. I have heard a lot of stories and calls for regulation, but what exactly are you opposed to, and what exactly are you ok with? I get the sense that there is not one central opposition, or proposal, which is fine, but perhaps those of you opposed can clarify what you are opposed to.

    -It seems that there are those that are in favor of updating the current zoning ordinances that already allow backyard agricultural pursuits. Those that support some backyard agriculture chickens, goats, rabbits, bees, small pigs and sheep. There are those that are already engaged in agricultural pursuits in their yards as well.
    -There is the difficult conversation about slaughter on the table as well. To allow, to not allow, how to regulate etc.. Certainly a good and deeply complicated conversation. One that is infused with personal beliefs on what foods are ok to eat and how our food supply (if it is meat) should be treated and killed.
    -There are issues of hygiene and pest control that have been presented, which are also good, but I would agree with Susan that they are not limited to agricultural practices, and backyard animal husbandry should not take the fall for all complaints of rats and coons.
    -There are permitting issues too. To permit or not to permit. JD, your point on what can the city handle as far as regulation is a good one. I just spent 8 weeks waiting for a permit to be approved on a remodel of my house. I agree, now is not the time to add work to an already understaffed city planning department.
    -Of course, there is the very important issue of animal welfare and caring for our backyard critters as humanely as possible. I agree JD, that there are people that will not care for animals properly, nor slaughter humanely, but as was pointed out by other bloggers, there is legislation in place to address cruelty to animals both as pets and as farm animals. Not that we do not need to consider this as we craft an update to our already existing zoning regulation. I have worked with animals my entire life, and am well aware of these pitfalls for all domesticated creatures.
    -Then, it seems that there are those that just seem to think that this is all bad and that cities are cities where only people and maybe a cat and dog live. (MI – great reference to cat’s decimating bird populations). No farm animals allowed ever, because we are not living on farms. If the city updates the zoning ordinance it will cause people to begin slaughtering herds of sheep in horrendous ways and the streets will be overrun with rats and flies. These are the opinions I don’t understand, and am not sure where to even begin a conversation. Irrationality and denial of something that exists does not lead us anywhere.

    –Urban agriculture exists. It exists in a large part because people are tired of supporting factory farming and buying eggs that come from debeaked chickens. It exists because we believe that if everyone quit buying eggs from places that routinely mistreat their chickens that chickens would be happier. We are people that are trying to help honey bees survive, trying to teach our children where food comes from, instead of buying cellophane wrapped chicken wings as Safeway. We want to know what is in our food, we want to know what is in our bodies. We do not take this lightly, and we are deeply committed to what we are doing.

    Comment by levis owens — April 29, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  90. JD, I think that your opinion is all over this page, and at the meeting. Everyone involved in this conversation has an opinion that matters. To have paragraph after paragraph of information, and opinion, and then refuse to weigh in on what you think makes sense as we look at this issue seems odd. If you live here, and you attended the meeting, and you are taking the time to post points, you clearly care. Unless you have been hired to represent a group, what you want as an individual is exactly what matters. What I want matters. How we bring those two wants/goals together is the process.

    Comment by levis owens — April 29, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

  91. I planted an organic garden several months ago and am enjoying it very much. I’m also planning on going on the upcoming tour to learn more about backyard chickens. I’m okay with chickens, and rabbits, and bees — but I’m a little nervous that we’re crossing the line with goats, sheep and backyard slaughtering, and quietly changing the zoning from residential to agricultural without having the proper infrastructure in place.

    I think your purpose is a noble one – and I deeply support it; but I want to be fully informed of all the impacts both positive and negative, and make sure the measures we have in place for urban farming work to protect everyone.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 29, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

  92. Jack @70: “I thought, when you mentioned ‘racist roots’ you meant animal races in #54.”

    Animal races? Where did I say anything about whatever you think an animal race might be (we call them breeds in animals).

    Let me repeat my question: Exactly what culture is it that traditionally inflates live kid goats with air like a balloon?

    I’ve got a pretty serious bet down that you never answer that question. From the details you keep changing around, and one small fact you introduced this time, I’m certain you’re making this all up.

    “Don’t you think the Alameda Police force has better things to do then run around the Island investigating purported goat inflation and every other report of mistreatment of bees/rabbits/goats/sheep and chickens or even over-stuffing a pet goose?”

    Well, I’m pretty sure you just made up your whole story, or at least got pretty much all the details wrong enough that it might as well be made up, so I don’t recommend going to the police with false reports because that is a crime and can get you in serious trouble. But if actual animal torture were happening, then yes, the police should handle it. The reason we have them is to help enforce the laws. If you don’t report animal cruelty, you are part of the problem, in my opinion.

    Unless you’re saying the police should not enforce the animal laws, in which case I can get a couple goats to keep in my back yard regardless of whether it is legal or not, since the police have better things to do, and this whole discussion is moot.

    Comment by Ayse — April 29, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

  93. Karen @94 I agree with the larger animal issue. Most Alameda lots are really not large enough to allow most hoofed livestock a decent life. Mine isn’t and I have a double lot. I’d like to see some pen size and grazing area requirements in addition to just population limits.

    Comment by Ayse — April 29, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

  94. 96. is that about sanitation or confinement? If your agenda is the latter we might need to outlaw all the meat in Safeway, etc. as well as “fast food” in Alameda. People who have sanitation and health issues I can abide, but anybody who is mainly all about animal rights as their primary issue should see the obvious contradiction in focusing on these urban farmers as animal abusers. I’ll take the endorsement from Levis in 92 and reiterate the point about domesticated cats allowed to roam outdoors. They also piss all over EVERYTHING so I’ll extend that argument to sanitation as well as song bird population.

    Comment by M.I. — April 29, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

  95. MI @97: It’s about quality of life for the animal. On an ordinary sized lot, a goat would never be able to get to a run. I’ve seen a lot of back yards in this city, and very few are large enough for even one goat to live happily. I grew up with livestock and it is challenging to give large animals a good life in a small space, especially herd animals who do poorly when kept singly. If you’re only raising animals for meat, maybe that’s fine with you. I don’t like the bitter taste of stress hormones in meat, myself.

    As for whether this is about animal rights, I don’t think animals have rights per se because they are not humans, but I personally will not buy meat that comes from an animal that has lived poorly, so perhaps you cannot abide me.

    I’m not entirely sure what this has to do with outdoor cats.

    Comment by Ayse — April 30, 2013 @ 6:54 am

  96. Far from not supporting large corporate farming and its inhumane practises, urban farming is just an extention of it. The eggs are bought from big hatcheries that dispose of male chicks in grinders, then the “urban farmer” dumps the remainder of chicks that become roosters, into shelters and rescues often.

    They raise Geneticall Modified chickens that have a short life span due to being modified for only egg laying capacity. They only live to be a few years old, while well cared for natural birds live 6-8 for some breeds and 12-15 for others.

    Once this is allowed just try to get the people the that cram animals into their small yards to give them up. Ever seen how long it takes to resolve an abuse case with a neglected dog? Things have to get to an abominable state before the dog will be seized and dogs do have “rights” which livestock do not.

    Many people are aware of the problems of our corporate food system and not eveyone has tried to solve the issue by opening up the can of worms that is “urban farming”. Instead they have joined a large worldwide population that does not eat anuimal products, or they support small farms or move to the country to homestead where animals can have a natural environment.

    Comment by EM — April 30, 2013 @ 7:25 am

  97. Ayse The outdoor cat comment string is just to point out that our companion animals are responsible for their own set of nuisances. My cat is probably more irritating to my neighbors than my chickens.

    Comment by levisnp — April 30, 2013 @ 7:27 am

  98. 97. I agree with your points about cats, no matter how much humor you may or may not have intended in your remarks. When we lived on Buena Vista, the area behind our rented cottage was feline orgy central every mating season–the noise was unbelievable and there was not a practical way of determining which cats belonged to whom (if to anyone) to lodge a complaint. After my dog died where I live now, my neighbors cats finally found a place where they could get away from their owners’ other pets (aka dogs) my yard, porch, and garden. The smell of cat piss on my garbage cans was an additional bonus. I suspect my cat aversion is also related to childhood trauma–the only time I ever remember seeing someone turn literally green was seeing my own reflection in a mirror after witnessing a feral mother cat from our barn demonstrate backyard slaughter for the benefit of her five raptly attentive kittens. The sight of that poor bird flapping away in her jaws will haunt me the rest of my life. If anybody wants to endure the public outcry against launching a lease law and curfew for cats, I will support you wholeheartedly. (Yes, I kid a lot but I’m sort of not kidding on this one. Don’t judge unless you’ve walked a mile in my moccasins.)

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 30, 2013 @ 7:31 am

  99. Sorry, I meant “leash” law. Although a “lease” law might work, too.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 30, 2013 @ 7:36 am

  100. 95
    Works the same with a goat.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 30, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

  101. “If facilities are available, a compressed air pipe is introduced between the skin and carcass surface and the air pressure gradually detaches the skin. The air must pass through a filter in order to reduce the micro-organisms present in the air, which otherwise can constitute a source of contamination. Blowing air into the cut in the
    hind leg is a traditional practice in many areas when the skin, usually goat skin, is required as a water bag.”

    Click to access Technical%20bulletin%20No.22.pdf

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 30, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

  102. Come on, Jack. Admit it. That video is from the same folks who faked the moon landing. You’re making this all up. (FYI for all you newbies, Jack and I have been commenting here a long time and I do not seriously think he is making this up. Sometimes he is serious, sometimes he is being funny, and sometimes he’s just being a deliberate pain in the ass. Ditto for yours truly. Stick around long enough and you should be able to tell the difference.)

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 30, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

  103. Great discussion; very helpful.

    Quick thought: I didn’t find outdoor cat analogy/argument convincing.

    Quick thought: I still want to hear more on animal slaughter portion of the proposed backyard farm animal ordinance, particularly with respect to safety, hygiene, etc.

    Quick thought: if a person has 3 sheep that bleet constantly into the night, does the ordinance protect the sheep-owner from any neighbor upset with the noise (iow: is there a possible scenario where a person can call the police to quiet a neighbor’s blasting rock music into the night, but she/he couldn’t call the police to quiet bleeting sheep because there’s an ordinance that says homes can have 3 sheep?)

    This discussion is great and very helpful: thank you: over and out for now.

    Comment by Tony Daysog — April 30, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  104. Long deliberate thought: Tony, I’m having a hard time figuring out why most anyone would want to keep pigs/sheep/goats or rabbits in their back yard except as a source of food.

    The bleating sheep conundrum probably will be determined by whether the sheep fits the ‘pet’ category or is considered a farm animal. If it’s a pet than it’s bleating is a controllable nuisance but if its a farm animal it’s a natural bleat and can’t be arrested.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 30, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

  105. People that know about raising chickens know that chickens bring rats, especially in the city.
    Cats are a chicken raisers best pals, as they keep the inevitable rat populations that follow chicken feed, down to a more maneagble level.

    Good question about noise. Now noise complaints involve neighbors calling police and code enforcement was what all the neighbors of the Oakland urban farmers did and do.

    In rural areas all the laws reinforce the primacy of animal agriculture so noise complaints about livestock are not taken seriously, there is little to know animal control, and your. Dog can and will be shot for going on a property with livestock.

    More reasons to not let animal agriculture take over out cities like it has other areas…that is in fact why many people chose to live in cities which are residential.

    Comment by Em — April 30, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

  106. At least one person in Alameda rents her goats out to people who want weeds and plants cleared. (According to her website). Don’t know if it does more than help pay for feed though.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — April 30, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

  107. How many more of these you want?

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 30, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

  108. Comment 105 says: “(FYI for all you newbies, Jack and I have been commenting here a long time and I do not seriously think he is making this up. Sometimes he is serious, sometimes he is being funny, and sometimes he’s just being a deliberate pain in the ass. Ditto for yours truly. Stick around long enough and you should be able to tell the difference.)”

    Hold on there. Who are you calling a newbie?

    Why don’t *you* stick around a while and maybe some day you’ll realize you don’t know everything about everything. Others have come before you. Have you considered the possibility that you might be wrong every once in a while?

    Please don’t bother with your usual passive aggressive “Gee, I don’t know why you are so upset, since I was just asking a question” thing.

    Comment by Blogging Bayport Old Guard — April 30, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

  109. Here’s a real interesting article worth reading about this issue:

    Failed backyard farms lead to growing number of homeless animals
    (As more urbanites abandon their attempts at homesteading, farm animal sanctuaries are feeling the crunch and animals are suffering)

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 30, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

  110. 106 Tony, cat analogy is not convincing with regard to what? that out door cats have substantial negative impacts? Any analogy certainly contributes little to resolving the more substantive concerns of this ordinance, but the relevance to people’s attitudes about what constitutes an intrusion with regard to animals in people’s yards is obvious. Cats may be chicken owners pal but they are not mine when it comes to degrading my yard regardless of alleged rat control. There are cat lovers who feel it cruel to keep their pet house bound who conveniently rationalize negative impacts of dozens of cats running free.

    98. would seem to indicate that Ayse is a meat eater, but one who has concerns about adequate space for animals kept for any purpose. Others, like EM, think meat consumption itself is inhumane, among other negatives, and further makes no distinction between factory farms and urban farms, BUT “small farms” seem to be O.K, IF rural enough? The variations of individual opinion are endless. It gets even more complicated if you try to consider the intelligence of various species with regard to when they may or may not be suffering, thresholds for discomfort, or how to rationalize various methods or purposes of husbandry.

    Not saying that the quality of life of an animal raised for meat is not important, though somewhat ironic concern considering their ultimate fate. Are there not verified experts who have established authoritative metrics for things like minimum square footage for accommodating various species responsibly? I don’t think the entire range of opinion can be accommodated in one ordinance, but that is not to say some ordinance can not and should not be negotiated, an ordinance which addresses broader critical concerns like sanitation or noise. Meat eating debate will have to continue.

    I’ve thought I could SEE the difference in quality in certain meats like grass fed etc. but never did a side by side taste comparison, especially for things like bitterness of hormones. If one has had an adrenaline rush it is easy to imagine animals which are panicked during slaughter having the hormones suspended in their muscle, not to mention steroids and antibiotics etc.. I very rarely eat beef, particularly something like burgers but if I’m drawn to try the new Alameda In N Out I’ll remember to carry some Xanex should signs of panic attack occur.

    Comment by M.I. — April 30, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

  111. 113. good one Karen. it occurred to me the solution might be to eat MORE meat. Variation on Pottery Barn rule: “you bought it, you eat it”.

    Comment by M.I. — April 30, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

  112. 111
    It’s hard to keep track of newbies and oldies when they keep changing their handle.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 30, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

  113. I have to say that it is clear that you are all avoiding the real issue, that proves it is the REAL motivation. Strange that with tens of thousands of words, not anybody has addressed the REAL reason all you want to have animals. Admit it: you are all part of a secret cabal to make backyard bestiality a mainstream practice. You should be ashamed! And not just with sheep and goats, but chickens and bees as well!!!

    Okay, I admit I just said that to get attention. And, frankly, to parody JD’s approach in the public meeting. Talk about attracting flies with vinegar!) Here it is, the bottom of about 200,000 words, and there’s next to no chance anybody will have gotten this far anyway.

    I actually agreed with a certain amount with what JD said, and what Alex and others alluded to: These rules are less for the people at the meeting, who are committed enough to good practices with animals (and bees, a completely different species, status and issue), but for those who might NOT be as committed to humane practices. Unfortunately, JD’s accusatory presentation completely lost the gist of what we all agree on and can work toward: we want any living being in Alameda, even humans, treated humanely.

    So the question is, what can we start with? First living conditions, which I suspect most people can get behind. How many square feet per each animal, bird or beehive? Next, not degrading life for our neighbors: smells, disturbing sounds (at any time of day), and sights on one side; not being harassed unfairly on the other for a “nuisance” that really isn’t. Frankly, I would include animal slaughter in that category: I do not want to see or hear animals suffering (yes, I’m a veggie, so don’t throw hypocrisy charges at me) and I don’t want kids who have gotten attached to animals to witness them being beheaded, dismembered and disemboweled. Call me crazy.

    The main thing, though, is to think not about what a great job we do with our own animals and insects, but also how to prevent suffering of animals and neighbors when the worst of us decide to raise roosters for fighting, etc.

    But again, this is so far down the thread of conversation, that I might as well just go back to talking about bestiality for all the impact it will have. Thanks to the committee who started the process; thanks to the dissident voices, even those who need to work on tone and snark; and let’s continue moving toward something that assumes that we’re all mostly on the same side and figure out the other issues from there.

    Thanks, Ms. Do, for starting all this.

    Jack Mingo
    (Yes, In My Own Back Yard!)

    Comment by Jack Mingo — April 30, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

  114. 115 Yes it is. That doesn’t change my view that she behaves like a passive aggressive know it all most of her time commenting here.

    Comment by Blogging Bayport Old Guard — April 30, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

  115. Jack, none of the animals in those clips were alive when they were inflated. You claimed you saw somebody inflate a living goat in both versions of your story. Also that the animal was hung, inflated and alive, under a porch for an entire day, though you later changed your story on that.

    Many cultures use inflation to skin dead animals. I’m not sure why that is so shocking to you but for sure it’s a totally different scenario than the one you claimed your neighbor was undertaking.

    So basically, you made your whole histrionic story up to sound shocking. Your neighbor slaughtered and cleaned a goat in his yard as is perfectly legal even right now, and your sensibilities were so shocked that you had to construct a huge, racist story about how inhumane people were in his home country. CWAA.

    Comment by Ayse — April 30, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

  116. @99: “They raise Geneticall Modified chickens that have a short life span due to being modified for only egg laying capacity.”

    There is no such thing as a GM chicken.

    Chicken farmers generally slaughter their layers after 2-3 years when their laying capacity goes down, and the conditions that factory-farmed chickens are kept in make them sick and weak, but that’s all the work of their keepers, not science.

    Comment by Ayse — April 30, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

  117. @JD #72, I am curious what farm was the “notable” farm in Oakland? Did it have a name? Is there an article about that particular farm?

    Comment by MCT — April 30, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

  118. Yep, that’s my racist, histrionic, insensible, shocking, made-up, huge story, Mr Ripley, and I’m sticking to it.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 30, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

  119. That would be Novella Carpenters farm. She had had so many complaints from neighbors and issues with the city, she is not operating like she was a few years ago. Some say it is because she had a baby, however most people that have babies manage to continue farming.
    I find it instructive that many of the main prototype urban farms in Oakland are no longer operational.

    Another difficulty is contamination of animal feces on vegetables and fruit one is growing. The city ordered the
    animals kept off her veg and fruit. They became relegated to even smaller sections.

    A common occurrence in “urban farms”.

    When I do checks and visit homesteaders I am shocked often at the ideas they have for where the different animals will go, and spaces they have allotted to the farm animals. They have no choice in the spaces they are in though. Then they often become frustrated and give up because they were not anticipating how bored and destructive and determined to escape the animals they are trying to contain, will be.

    Comment by JD — April 30, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

  120. Compare the size of egg layers today compared to a few decades ago….

    Didn’t the city almost defund the animal shelter and animal control a couple years go?
    Drastically reduced the budget and required it to run on lots of donations.
    Now a couple years later a plan to take in more species in town and expand urban farming.
    Sounds like strange “city planning” to m. Does not sound like a Plan. Someone mentioned studying the outcome, would that be the ag dept down at city hall? Hmmm…cut back services but expand the need and potential for them…

    Comment by Em — April 30, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

    • Everyone does understand that this is not a discussion about allowing urban agriculture, but a conversation about updating the ordinance that already allows urban agriculture to exist.

      Sent from my iPhone

      Comment by levisnp — April 30, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

    • Everyone does understand that this is not a discussion about allowing urban agriculture, but a conversation about updating the ordinance that already allows urban agriculture to exist.

      Comment by levisnp — April 30, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

  121. @123: What makes you think the size of egg layers today has changed from a few decades ago? The chickens available from breeders now are bred to meet the breed standards, including weight, which have not changed in that time. The real difference you see now from what you could get in the 1970’s, for example, is that there are more smaller chickens available these days. They used to not be as popular.

    No GM involved (do you even know what GM on a chicken would involve?). A little selective breeding, and a basic understanding of genetics are all that you need to maintain a flock to a breed standard. I understand the anxiety about industrialised food, and about GM crops, but in this case it is an unnecessary anxiety.

    Comment by Ayse — May 1, 2013 @ 6:27 am

  122. 116 no hypocrisy charges for simply being a veggie eater, For vegetarians who actually care about impacts beyond their own bodies it would be great to hear suggestions about how to transition to complete vegetarianism. Interview with CEO of Whole Foods ( who eschews humans impacting climate change) described his vegan meals and they sounded incredibly bland but also requiring a lot of effort to organize if not to prepare. On slaughter in yards, how are we supposed to allow for it but address concerns like protecting people from the sounds or keep kids from witnessing demise of their over the fence buddy they have bonded with for months? I’m really not a sick-o who relishes traumatizing children, but if it was my neighbor’s kid being slaughtered I’d let my child chose whether to watch.

    Be on notice: David Howard is now officially on board crusading for the diversity, yes religious and ethnic customs in slaughtering etc. He called for the City to hold classes in humane slaughter practices. We should definitely spend tax dollars on that.

    Comment by M.I. — May 1, 2013 @ 8:17 am

  123. 1. If you are so “very educated and familiar with this issue of animal raising for agricultural uses”, how did you come up with a ridiculous claim that it would cost $15-$20 per egg if the hens were taken care of “properly”? Do you have some facts to back it up?
    2. No one is proposing “rezoning Alameda from residential to agricultural.” There is no “radical trend … [of] going city to city proposing rewrite of our cities zoning laws to allow people to raise farm animals for eggs, dairy, and meat.” Current city law already allows it, in some cases tacitly. This is an attempt to clarify what is allowed and what is not and to bring the law up-to-date.
    3. No one ever made a claim that “animals being proposed are pets and would have the protections of pets.” Owners of “agricultural” animals take good care of their animals because
    – they like their animals and
    – they want their animals to be happy because they want their animals to produce (eggs, milk, etc.)
    4. why are you so alarmed by “goats and sheep (I am not kidding).” Some people’s dogs are bigger than a sheep or a goat, and no one is having a cow about it
    5. “daily exercise, cleaning and feeding rituals … to maintain …chickens”, really? You mean like opening the door of their coop and allowing them to roam around your yard, eating weeds and bugs? I can see how this can quickly become “time consuming and expensive.”
    6. Do you have facts to back up your statement that “many people impulsively obtaining live animals”? People I know spend months making sure their yard is ready to receive its new inhabitants, buying/building coops, runs, etc. There is nothing impulsive about it.

    Look, we keep animals because we enjoy having them and what they produce. It is no less commendable than people keeping pets because they appreciate their company and affection. My keeping a small flock of hens did not ruin my neighborhood – just ask my neighbors.

    Comment by Andre — May 1, 2013 @ 8:21 am

  124. 117. “She” has a name, a real one. I only fully respect the comments of those who don’t hide behind made up names, and those who keep changing their made up names so we can’t even track their opinions (all the better to troll you with you know) are gutless at best. I don’t think I know it all (not particulary good at geography or math for instance) and if you have indeed been commenting on this blog longer than I have (we have to take your annonymous word for it after all) you would realize that I have been known to admit when I’ve been wrong and to thank others for offering a fresh perspective. By the way, when I choose to be aggressive, there isn’t anything passive about it. This generally doesn’t happen unless someone gets snarky with me first or with someone who I feel has been treated unfairly.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 1, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  125. #122, the problems with Novella’s farm weren’t well understood in the general news following it, and I do have some inside information about the issues.

    She was operating a selling business on agriculturally-used land that wasn’t the same land as her dwelling and that was the code “hook.” In addition, she was afoul of county health regs for selling cooked meat products.

    The people who called in the violations were rabbit rights activists who oppose all eating of rabbits, for everyone, everywhere, under all circumstances. They found a way to prevent the sale of those rabbits by alerting the city to other laws, but they didn’t care about her squatting on land or anything else.

    To make it sound like clarifying EXISTING REGULATIONS in Alameda is opening up a floodgate to animal abuse, ritual slaughter, neighbor traumatization, is obfuscating what I truly believe is the issue — that some people want no one to be able to slaughter an animal anywhere eventually, and are using city processes to make that a reality here. An analogy would be if I were opposed to car use and ownership, and could somehow make a case for the city to disallow cars for everyone, instead of asking for reasonable laws (cars on streets, for example) and riding my own bike. And the amazing thing is that so very few folks want to backyard slaughter and there’s all kind of heat over a very small percentage.

    Never mind that it won’t advance the big picture of veganism for all, it’s possible for a small group to pressure city councils by engaging in less-than-factual kinds of dialogue.

    Comment by Stefaneener — May 1, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

  126. 130. great post. two things come to mind. With regard to the working group who got the ball rolling, “no good deed goes unpunished”. Second, regarding obfuscation, be ready for D.H. to bring laser focus to mediating consensus and harmony as is always his primary motivation.

    Comment by M.I. — May 1, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

  127. 127. The City has no money to hold humane backyard slaughter classes. Perhaps someone could set up a bicycle tour. David Howard should get right on that. (Disclaimer, I am in no way making fun of the upcoming chicken coop bicycle tour this weekend. I think it’s a nice idea and a great opportunity for people to have their fears put to rest. I am not making fun of Mr. Irons, either. He seems like a reasonable guy, plus, he’s with me on the cat issue, so he’s cool. As for Mr. Howard, well, there I go being all passive aggressive again. We all have our talents.)

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 1, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

  128. 132. Denise, you makin’ fun of me by referring to me as reasonable? well go ahead, I’m from East Coast and I can take it!

    My initial comment Sunday was not focused on the ordinance itself, so much as the over arching dynamic of people who are ostensibly in fairly similar camps but end up in fighting and cannibalizing each other, so to speak . Howard is a new twist of course because he always is, twisted that is. Even his diversity rhetoric doesn’t put him anybody’s camp that I know. He is from his own tribe, destined to roast his weeny over a lone camp fire for eternity because he threatens legal action if you look at him cross eyed. Watching the latest on Drake’s Bay oyster farm debate on News Hour just now I was amused by parallels. Alice Waters and lawyer from Koch brothers in defense of the lease, NRDC and Sierra Club on the other. what a mess.

    Comment by M.I. — May 1, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

  129. I really feel like this whole debate is getting all muddled up and appears to really be specifically about a few people who are strongly opposed to backyard slaughter.

    I was at the meeting and funny, I do not recall an applause as JD mentioned, when people mentioned slaughter. I also remember one person in support of slaughter being a resident of Oakland, and she said that specifically.

    Alamedians can already have these animals. The purpose of the “movement” to have the code rewritten appears to me to be specifically to :

    1) Outline regulations on number of specific types of animals, where presently no number is specified
    2) Outline minimim land requirements, where none exists now

    At no time do I personally feel the issue of slaughter was being deliberately ignored. I personally do not like the idea of animal slaughter, but I do not think it is my right or the city’s right to say someone can or cannot eat the chicken they raise. It is likely that this is already happening and I have not heard of the city receiving complaints about it and it is likely neighbors do not even know it is happening next door to them) except for the guy above who claims to have seen a live goat injected with air and slaughtered. As mentioned, the state has regulations outlining slaughter and technically the city does not need to readdress this.

    Further, JD mentioned that the slaughter will increase because suddenly half of Alameda is going to start these farms and there will be a bloodbath nightly in every other yard in Alameda. This is nuts. IT IS ALREADY LEGAL TO HAVE THESE ANIMALS. This is not changing. Given that it is already legal, it makes no sense to assume that just because guidelines are put into place determining size of space and quantity of animals allowed, that all of a sudden the masses are going to start farming and slaughtering. This is asinine.

    What is likely is that people farming now, will continue. People not farming, will continue to not farm. Life will continue as it has been and farming families will now have guidelines on quantity of animals and space.

    All of these statistics and articles and stories put up are interesting but really moot given that farming and slaughtering practices are already happening here by responsible farmers and few, if any complaints have been made.

    Given this information, it really seems that the slaughter issue is one entirely separate as the express goals of the backyard farming initiative is to outline quantity and space.

    Additionally, I am in support of a licensing fee on the livestock, similar to cat and dog, to help offset the costs of neighbor complaints, should any arise. This funding also could assist with rescue efforts, should animals be in need of rescue. (though it would be interesting to know if the animal shelter has had to rescue and chickens, goats, bees, pigs or sheep to date.) Do I think backyard farms should have to be inspected, no. People keeping dogs and cats, often in worse conditions, are not subject to inspections.

    Alameda maintains a “reactive” not “proactive” stance to code enforcement and backyard farms should not be an exception to this rule.

    Comment by Cass Thompson — May 1, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

  130. Let me get this straight, proponents of urban animal farming see it as the cure all to the modern food system and want everyone to do it, yet If everyone does it, it will not lead to problems such as animal welfare, public health, sanitation and nuisance problems in the close quarters we live in,
    Makes sense

    Comment by Em — May 1, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

    • At no time have any of the supporters or practitioners of urban farming said we think everyone needs to do this. Keeping ag animals is not for everyone. What every person has said is that not everyone will do this, and that the panic that we will be overrun with farm animals is silly

      Comment by levisnp — May 1, 2013 @ 10:11 pm


    Oh only the experienced people will do it, behold video

    Comment by Em — May 1, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

  132. The point is that the farming is already happening with little problems. Just because the city adjusts an already existing code to restrict size and quantity does not in any way mean that people will wake up and say, “Oh, I need to start a farm.” No one is claiming only the experienced people will do it. Obviously in order to be experienced, you have to start somewhere. But the notion that the day or week or month after the code, THAT ALREADY EXISTS, is adjusted, widespread farming will occur is inaccurate and ridiculous.

    Comment by Cass Thompson — May 1, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  133. @135 Really? This is quite an exaggeration. At no time have proponents suggested or encouraged “everyone to do it.” In fact, proponents have stated the exact opposite, that presently, NOT everyone is doing it and in the future, we expect this to remain unchanged, given that the laws are only changing space and quantity restrictions.

    Comment by Cass Thompson — May 1, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

  134. Oh, #134 and #138, Cass Thompson, will you be my commenter crush? YES, this: “Further, JD mentioned that the slaughter will increase because suddenly half of Alameda is going to start these farms and there will be a bloodbath nightly in every other yard in Alameda. This is nuts. IT IS ALREADY LEGAL TO HAVE THESE ANIMALS. This is not changing. Given that it is already legal, it makes no sense to assume that just because guidelines are put into place determining size of space and quantity of animals allowed, that all of a sudden the masses are going to start farming and slaughtering. This is asinine.”

    What I’m concerned about is that the asinine get to set the terms of the debate, and it’s up to the rest of the people to make certain that this debate over the regulation update makes sense.

    As far as city resources being used on bees, one area I’m very familiar with, the extent of the resources is that the Animal Control officer calls a beekeeper on the phone, and the keeper goes out and picks it up, no charge to anyone. Try getting that done without cooperative volunteers. Even if you just wanted a pest company to come and poison them, it would cost money.

    As far as urban farmers suggesting that everyone do it, I’m heartened when I see bits of yards being turned over to tomatoes, basil, and eggplant. More and more I see gardens popping up in folks’ front yards, right out there like there’s nothing wrong with it. And why not spend scarce water resources on food rather than grass? But in no way do I proselytize, nor suggest that everyone should (or will) keep animals of any kind.

    The system isn’t broken. It’s out of date, that’s all.

    Comment by Stefaneener — May 2, 2013 @ 8:40 am

  135. I think what people are saying about this issue and what people think they are saying doesn’t always match up. A number of people appear to have taken offense at comments personally that were not aimed directly at them. The hyperbole all around is getting pretty thick but let’s remember that hyperbole is exaggeration to make a point and is not to be taken literally. It’s understandable that folks who currently raise farm animals are concerned that something they are currently doing or planning to do will no longer be allowed and they feel threatened.

    There is no clear “for” and “against” here, just people who either are or who are not raising farm animals. Plenty of people who don’t, currently don’t have a problem with what you are doing but they suspect they MIGHT have a problem with someone who does what you’re doing if they live next door to them and do it in a way that negatively impacts them. They want to make sure that the City doesn’t just sign off on something without considering possible unintended consequences.

    Lauren was right when she said we were getting deep into the weeds here. If you have an issue with the specific proposals (you think there should only be four rabbits per household, for instance) you should speak up. People are slapping a whole lot of issues on the table that are certainly worth looking at but which may not apply to these specific changes in the regulations.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 2, 2013 @ 9:05 am

  136. @ 141- I think you hit the nail on the head that we all care about our community and what happens here. Also, yes, there are other issues that may arise, but the purpose of the farming meeting and code updates specifically were to update a few things.

    To my knowledge, “To farm or not to farm” is not the question. Rather, the questions are how many animals may I keep and how big does my yard need to be. The updating of the code is not (as far as I know) even considering banning farming altogether, just simply adding regulations that currently do not exist to space and quantity specifically.

    As far as backyard slaughter, I feel that this issue is a separate issue from the updating codes for space and quantity. As mentioned, the state laws currently govern this. If it becomes a problem and all of a sudden there is a huge upswing in animals being slaughtered, then address the issue. I suspect it will not be a problem for the myriad of reasons pointed out in half of the posts above.

    I do keep a pig in my yard and I have no intentions of ever eating him. Many of the chicken farmers and other livestock farmers are in the same boat. They want eggs, milk, honey, and pets. While a select few may want meat, it is my impression that the majority do not. Those already slaughtering have not caused much, if any ruckus, to date so I am just not convinced it is an issue.

    If you are concerned about slaughter, which a few people are, of course your voice should be heard, in the right context, at the right time. This, in my opinion, is not it based on the fact that the code updates are about space and quantity specifically.

    Comment by Cass Thompson — May 2, 2013 @ 10:36 am

  137. Just making sure people saw Cass Thompson’s comment #70 (which she put up today) on Lauren’s 2011 post about Bosco the pig. It provides some good info about what it’s like to live with a (smallish) pig.

    I was amused to see that even in that string, “John” is posting about overpaid teachers and administrators!

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 2, 2013 @ 5:02 pm

  138. I’ve read a lot of inflammatory and outrageous libels on our city around the backyard animal issue, including some unlikely anecdotes that don’t ring true about our neighbors. I’ve read assertions that if we change and adapt a few of our existing laws about raising urban farm animals and bees, that Alamedans will somehow suddenly become bloodthirsty ritual killers.

    Remember, most of these animals are already allowed by law. Claiming that we shouldn’t adapt the laws to modern realities because Alamedans might suddenly start breaking state law and begin sadistically slaughtering animals is a little like saying we shouldn’t approve new traffic lights because more Alamedans might start driving drunk — it doesn’t even make sense as an argument, and it slanders the people who live here.

    Fact: the proposed law changes have absolutely no effect either way about slaughtering animals. If it’s illegal now, it will remain that way. All it does is tweak the ground ruels a little: for example, when our current law was written, people had no idea that other folk might consider raising miniature “swine” as pets instead of giant porkers as meat.

    Fact: Alamedans can handle any problem that comes up. We don’t need the embittered, inflammatory, emotional arguments that plague Berkeley and Oakland about this issue (and just about every issue, it seems sometimes). We have a city government that works, that can enforce the new laws as well as it has enforced the old ones.

    Gbrielle Dolphin
    Resident of Alameda 28 years

    Comment by Rev. Gabrielle Dolphin — May 21, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

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