Article in the San Leandro Times, Thursday, October 6, 2011 by Amy Sylvestri It looks like Old MacDonald might soon be moving his farm to East 14th Street - since the City Council voted Monday to draft an ordinance that will legalize keeping hens and honey bees in San Leandro. Previously, urban farming had only been allowed in the Mulford Gardens area because it was grandfathered in from previous zoning decisions. Small animals including pot bellied pigs are already legal all over town. Keeping a chicken coop and bee colony is legal in most Bay Area cities but not San Leandro, so a group of a dozen proponents spoke up at the City Council meeting Monday night, leading to a unanimous vote by the council to set up an urban farming strategy for the entire city. Resident Janet Palma said that keeping chickens and bees is important for sustainability and dismissed concerns that the chickens could spread disease, saying that domisticated pets like dogs, cats, and turtles can spread salmonella too. Kristine Konrad home-schools her kids and participates in 4-H and pointed out that the honey bee population is struggling globally and that every little bit will help to restore it. Konrad also said she would use the chickens to teach her children that "food is not something wrapped in plastic and delivered from 1,000 miles away." Scott Terry seconded her concern for the bees and admitted that he had a hive in his yard illegally in order to pollinate his garden. Scott said that, if you see honey bees in San Leandro, they are likely "illegal." A speaker who opposed the ordinance, Vincent Rosato, said he had seen unkempt coops and was worried about disease and cruelty to the animals. Rosato said he is an animal lover, but would only tolerate the plan if there was strict enforcement. "It's not a matter of supporting the poor or people who want to be a locavore (someone who eats food grown locally)" said Rosato. "It's a public health issue." Councilman Jim Prola agreed that safety enforcement would have to be a priority, and Councilwoman Ursula Reed added that it was important the chickens not be a nuisance. She also worried that enforcement might be tough on police, as they say staffing is already stretched thin. Mayor Stephan Cassidy threw his support behind the hens, citing a passage from the San Leandro history book "A Garden Grows in Eden" and saying that personal farming has a long tradition in the city. The council decided to move to draft an ordinance that will allow the animals, but first the matter will be sent to the business and housing committee to hash out the details - the number of chickens allowed, licensing fees, and other criteria.