We rallied the troops and over 20 members of the public spoke! We didn't just win, we SHUT IT DOWN! Thanks to Hoody's Human on BYC for all of her work. The ban failed 4-1, only the rep who submitted the proposal did not sway.
The Board technically approved the ban in July, but since 1 member voted no and due to the controversial nature of the issue, they decided to readdress it in October, as it is a small part of a larger zoning code overhaul.
Here are the actions we took that had major impact:
#1 CAREFULLY read any documenting report that the government provides and pick it apart any way you can. For example, our proposal said the fiscal impact would mean a decrease in work for government since it would mean less complaints. I turned this on its head and pointed out how a restrictive ban such as this would create WAY more work for code enforcers as they would have to implement it.
#2 Bring up rooster collars. When I spoke, I specifically asked the board if any of them had heard of them and none of them had. As the meeting continued, the board chair looked up rooster collars on his laptop and brought it back up. "You can even get one with a bow tie" he said. At the end he suggested "give your neighbor a crow collar for christmas." (If their rooster annoys you)
#3 Contact 4H and FFA. I emailed and called every number I could find for every local group. Sacramento has at least 10 4H clubs and I emailed each one and called those that had numbers. Ag teachers in high schools are the leaders of FFA and a great way to reach out to the organization; email and call. Today, the first speaker was a high school student FFA member. She wore her jacket and brought in her trophy from state fair. It was a great speech and she totally set the tone for the whole meeting. Emphasize the impact it would have on the children and poultry shows.
#4 Hang flyers in feed stores and veterinarian offices. My local feed stores literally let me tape them next to the registers. If you can, print flyers on bright paper and add pictures to catch peoples attention. We had a vet who sees poultry show up today to speak which was great.
#5 Post on Craigslist. I posted in Farm & Garden in For Sale and Local News in Community. I had people email me back so I know it worked! Add tons of keywords related to anything you think chicken owners would look up. Example keywords: feed, apyron, pullet, tractor, coop, chicks, ducks, hen, mower, ford, pickup, hay, etc.
#6 Contact people who have poultry for sale on Craigslist. We felt it was too much to call, but a quick text or email can be effective. We just copied and pasted a blurb about the ban and went through texting people, just dont be obnoxious. We got responses so it worked too!
#7 Have a text file saved on your phone or computer so you can copy and paste messages for emails and posts. Also, have all of your representatives' contact info ready to copy and paste with each message. Encourage those who cannot attend meetings to call and email.
#8 Use social media, post to BYC first of course! Use Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else you use. We have an Instagram account for our farm so we posted a picture of one of our roosters and in the description urged our followers to e-mail, with all the numbers and addresses provided. We literally had people from around the world contacting our reps. Anyone can voice their opinion, you do not have to be a resident, nor do you need to specify where you are located. Reps may not read each email, but they definitely take notice when they get flooded!
#9 Submit a public comment. In my county, you can submit a public comment online. This is located in the meeting agenda information page. Once the agenda is open, there is a link on the right to submit a public comment. If you cannot find something similar in your area, simply call the main office and ask how to do so. I also sent e-mails to each rep with my statement in the body of the email (not attachment). The day of meeting, in my county, you can submit a comment in person. Even though I had already submitted online and emailed, I printed copies of my statement for each member and the clerk. Be redundant! That way, they had a hard copy in their hands while we were addressing the issue and before they voted. I saw them flipping through my statement during the meeting, hardly anyone else submitted info like this. We are only allowed 3 minutes to speak and I could not say all of the points that quickly. So I narrowed my speaking points down to not only the most hard hitting, but specifically points I assumed others were not likely to touch upon.
#10 Discuss the effect on animal control. If your county wants to ban roosters, does your shelter accept roosters? Where will they go? Here in Sacramento there has been a massive amount of rooster dumping in the parks after the rooster ban was passed in city limits. Emphasize this will mean an increased amount of work for animal control, will overwhelm the shelters, and lead to mass euthanasia of birds that do not have homes.
#11. Make your points clear and free of emotional attacks. Reach them where they are, not where you are. As much as we love our birds and care about breeding, etc., they care more about money and their job. What negative effects will this have on government? How might this affect the way your area is represented? Sacramento is called the Farm to Fork Capitol of America and we pointed out how hypocritical it is for us to have the strictest laws in the state.
Here is my statement I submitted, notice the title does not attack. I could have put "10 Reasons Why the Ban is Bad" Or "10 Reasons Why the Ban is Not Good." But i chose to word it "10 Reasons Why the Ban is Not the Best Solution." This is not attacking and leaves it open for more possibilities.
10 Reasons Why The Ban On Crowing Fowl is Not The Best Solution
1. Amendments To The Zoning Code Related To Crowing Fowl states:
“A total ban on crowing fowl in residential zones, as proposed, will result in fewer noise complaints. Approval of the alternative will result in increased code enforcement officer’s time to inspect noise complaints in rural areas.”
This is incorrect, because a total ban would mean an increase in complaints due to the number of birds that are prohibited. Residents will not only be complaining about crowing, but the mere sight of a duck or goose will be deemed illegal and cause for inspection by code enforcement. People are not likely to comply with the ban because of the lack of locations to surrender their birds and likeliness of euthanasia, and therefore many people will continue to keep these birds which will lead to numerous complaints. Many residents of the county will be unaware of this ban and will unknowingly own prohibited birds, since banning geese and ducks are not common practice of jurisdictions in California. Most people wont get rid of their livestock, until someone notifies them otherwise in person, because their livestock means so much to them. If people do not comply, the ban will have to be enforced which will take up unimaginable time of code enforcement officers. There are varieties of poultry listed that do not crow (including roosters), and many that are hard to distinguish males from females. Code enforcers do not have the scientific knowledge to sex poultry and determine the final fate of the bird.
2. The noise ordinance can be used to keep noise under control. People could be notified of a complaint and given the option to use a crowing collar (which humanely restricts the rooster from crowing loudly), keep the birds inside sound proof coop until a designated time, or get rid of the birds altogether. If the owner fails to comply, they can then be cited by code enforcement. Dog barking and free roaming is not allowed for dogs, and the same laws should apply for poultry. It should be handled on a case by case basis. If we banned dogs, they would be running lose all over Sacramento and the shelters would be overwhelmed, since most people couldn’t own them legally.
3. People who raise poultry for meat should not have their food source taken from them. It is very important to them how their birds are raised and treated, and they often do not support the current commercial poultry system, so they do not wish to buy their meat from the stores. Also, low income people cannot afford to eat the healthy options from alternative health food stores, so they have turned to raising their own meat and eggs themselves. This would take away that option, where they would be forced to eat low quality meat and eggs at more of a financial cost. There are varieties of chickens made for meat that are bred to be butchered at 12 weeks, before the males begin to crow. Also, standard breed poultry roosters do not start to crow until around 5 months, which is when most harvest the meat.
4. Due to the ban in city limits, there has been a massive dumping of roosters in the local parks. This has become a nuisance for the people living around the parks and its daily visitors. If the ban were to go into effect for unincorporated areas of the county, the dumping would be ten-fold. The population of ducks, roosters, geese, guinea fowl, and peacocks in unincorporated areas is astronomically bigger than the amount of roosters that have been dumped because of the city ban. Poultry flocks have a pecking order and are territorial, so when they are dumped, they will be attacked by all the others and this results in gruesome inhumane deaths. They also have no food when they are dumped in the parks, so they live for a while, but eventually end up starving to death. It is also known that people who fight roosters are going to these areas and taking the birds in the middle of the night. This would result in increased cockfighting. All of this would create a lot of ruckus for the parks that will be the dumping grounds for these birds.
5. Of the 32 jurisdictions surveyed, Sacramento County would be the only jurisdiction to explicitly ban roosters, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, and peacocks, making it the strictest ordinance of them all. There is no supporting evidence documented in the proposal of numerous complaints about ducks, geese, guinea fowl, or peacocks, only roosters. The cities which allow all of these fowl (including roosters) are densely populated areas, including: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Petaluma, Santa Monica, Rocklin, and Bakersfield. If these large cities are able to handle noise issues on a case by case basis, Sacramento can as well. How can the Farm to Fork Capitol of America have the strictest laws in the state regarding self-sustaining food production?
6. Those who do not want to live around the natural sounds of livestock animals have the choice to move to city limits where the raising of livestock is banned, other than hens. People in the unincorporated areas can not just pick up and move to AG designated parcels. Many people moved out of city limits so they could have small, urban, self sustaining farms that do not require large amounts of space, like the AG zoned areas of this county. Urban farming is a growing trend in this country, emphasizing the production of a large amount of food without needing lots of space.
7. Because people can only own hens in many areas due to ordinances, hatcheries are now grinding up the excess baby roosters by the thousands. All of the roosters bred for the Sacramento area will be ground up since the majority of people won’t be able to own them legally.
8. 4-H and FFA Programs are an important part of not only Sacramento history but the history of the whole country. It is unfair to deny the children in these great programs the ability to own these proposed prohibited birds. Poultry raising is a fundamental part of the history of the United States, and programs such as these are continuing these traditions by teaching the children. The local government should be encouraging these children with their poultry, not restricting them, they are literally the Future Farmers of America. The ban would make it impossible for 4H, FFA, and private citizens to compete in poultry shows since they won’t be able to breed their best entries.
9. A heritage livestock breed is one that was traditionally raised by farmers before the advent of massive-scale industrial agriculture. Within the past few decades, hundreds of breed varieties have gone extinct. There is a movement, especially within farming circles that are aspiring to sustainable farming, to preserve the remaining heritage breeds so that they don’t suffer the same fate. If this ban goes in to effect, this will only help to further the extinction of these animals breeds, some which have been around since the 1800’s.
10. The risk of the problems this could create is not worth the benefit of a ban. There are much better solutions that should be considered.
Edited by FreedomFeather - 10/29/15 at 3:59pm