What should I do?

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by mkr, May 16, 2011.

  1. mkr

    mkr Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2011
    Yes, I know 'free advice is worth what you pay'...but I'd still value your input. I live and work in DC. I want 2 or 3 chickens, and I am lucky enough to have over 1/3 of an acre in a quiet, residential area of the city. The laws in DC are not only vague, there are actually two sections of the city code that are in direct conflict with each other, as the city is interpreting them now. One set of regulations outlines the conditions under which fowl can legally be kept, another bans the keeping of any animal not specifically mentioned in the language of the code. Chickens are not specifically mentioned, and the Dept. of Health has used that at least once to force people to remove their flocks.

    Anyway, as I see it I have four options. 1) Give up on chickens until we can get the heck out of the city. 2) Attempt to restart the process of changing the law. The last attempt died in council--not enough interest from our fabulous local lawmakers. 3) As many in DC have done, clear it with my neighbors, get a couple birds, and attempt fly under the radar. 4) Apply for an exception to the law that supposedly bans chickens in the form of an exotic animal permit for 'educational purposes.' I'm a teacher, and much of my second grade curriculum focuses on life cycles (sun feeds the plants, plants feed the chickens and the bugs, bugs feed the chickens too, chickens feed us, chicken poop feeds the plants--and that, Simba, is the circle of life [​IMG])

    Seriously, any input is appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. calista

    calista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wonder if things have changed since this story a year and a half ago:

    Higgins recounts the story of Caryn Ernst and how D.C. police and animal control agents swooped down on her family’s Capitol Hill home in June when they discovered that Ernst and her daughters were raising some chickens in their back yard as part of an elementary school science project. After the chickens were taken away, Ernst started digging into D.C. law and discovered that it is nearly impossible to raise backyard chickens in the District of Columbia. Animal control regulations require that chickens be kept at least 50 feet from the nearest residence.

    http://www.theslowcook.com/2010/01/07/washpost-ups-volume-on-backyard-chickens/

    Read the whole story at the link about the petition drive that was started and consider contacting them. I wish you luck. [​IMG]
     
  3. mkr

    mkr Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah that was kind of the opening shot in a battle that has grown increasingly stupid and then kind of fizzled out. They took those folks' chickens away because they didn't have the space under the one law (section 902 of the Animal Control Code). Then the Councilman for their section of the city introduced a bill to reform that regulation. It died in council.

    Meanwhile, another family with a larger lot began working with the Department of Health to get their flock up to code. Everything was looking rosy, but then the DOH lawyers managed to dig up this other chunk of code (DC City Code 8-1808) that says 'No person shall keep...' any animal not specified therein. 'Common cage birds' and 'racing pigeons' are specified. Chickens are not. (Neither are bees, but no one is taking away the Obama's hives last I checked.) So DOH interpreted that to mean chickens are illegal. They froze the process and confiscated the chickens that these folks had been told were perfectly legal the week before.

    Grrr! DC makes me so mad! I want to go back out west where people are reasonable.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2011
  4. Long Last Farm

    Long Last Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd get a couple birds, ask the neighbors (if you think that is a good ides--I'd want to be pretty sure of a positive response or I wouldn't ask), and fly under the radar, with the understanding I might have to remove the birds if someone makes a big deal out of it.... just my 2 cents, though....
     
  5. mkr

    mkr Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2011
    Yeah, I'm gonna look into the 'exotic animal' permit thing, but I kinda doubt it will work. If the neighbors really object, I guess I won't do it. We will probably end up going renegade chicken style, if at all. We have to landscape the backyard anyway, perhaps some nice shrubbery around the coop will be helpful...
     
  6. mkr

    mkr Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2011
    Anybody have any 'stealth' coop experience or tips to share? I found one on here that was build under a deck...so awesome! I'm not sure it would work for me though, as my yard slopes toward the house and while we are planning to put on a deck anyway, it will be very low. I liked the green roof, compost bin-looking coop as well. What about sunlight and ventilation? I'm puzzling over how to get sunlight and fresh air into a stealthy coop. Ideas?
     
  7. PineappleMama

    PineappleMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Only in DC would a chicken (especially a RIR, NHR, JG, etc) be considered 'exotic'.

    And add in the selective enforcement of the 'any not mentioned' bit totally based on how much money and clout you have.

    MKR let me hereby issue you a warm welcome and invitation to move down here to Texas. Even here in Arlington, smack in the middle of Dallas/Ft Worth home of the Rangers, Cowboys and Six Flags in other words a CITY, we're allowed to have a flock... a small one true, but still it's possible.

    I'd at least try contacting the others and getting that campaign rolling again... I'd harp on the bits in the code that say how you are supposed to keep them... that that is the ONLY mention of fowl in there and so that's what you figure should be the rule. But if that didn't work then I'd maybe consider under the radar... but only if I wasn't planning on moving any time soon. Why risk all that if you're just going to pack up and leave anyways? If a move is in the future, and you don't NEED to keep chickens for food, then I'd put it off until I was free to have the flock I wanted.
     
  8. RitaM

    RitaM Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 16, 2010
    I'm in Northern California, in a suburb that does not allow chickens. My backyard is quite large for the suburbs (1/3 acre) , but I have four neighbors and a creek path that abut my property. I built a beautiful coop, painted it the same color as my house, and place it where it can only be seen by one neighbor's upstairs bedroom and anyone looking through the fence on the creek path.

    I figured it was better to ask forgiveness than ask permission, so I did not tell any of my neighbors. I used to have 6 chickens, but I lowered it to three of the quietest as some of them made quite a ruckus. I also clean their poop board often, as I think that flies and smell are the main reason why chickens are not allowed. Well, that and people butcher them, so technically they are not a pet for some people. I got mine for the eggs and manure for my garden, and was then delighted to find out what enchanting creatures they are.

    Like anything else, you might take great care of your chickens, keep them clean, treat them well and they are still illegal even though your neighbors may have dogs that are in a filthy kennel, mistreated, but legal.

    I almost think it is better (if caught) to ask for a single exception to the law, and skip trying to change the law for everyone.

    Rita
     
  9. mkr

    mkr Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, I just found out that DC only issues 'exotic animal' exceptions to the supposedly chicken banning regulation to 'federally licensed animal exhibitors'. So much for that.

    I really dislike this city. Aside from wanting to keep chickens for all the standard reasons, it's really starting to tick me off that the local government gets to regulate what I can do in my own backyard with the approval of my neighbors. Also that my lawmakers are so flippin lazy that this relatively simple issue died from 'lack of interest in the council'. If they're so busy with more important issues, you'd think the schools would be better, the crime rates lower, and the people healthier. And if it's such an unimportant issue, you'd think they could just rubber stamp it like everything else. Argh! Sorry for the rant.

    Well, I know the responsible thing to do is probably try to restart the reform process, but it might be time to go stealth. I have a thought about a semi-dugout, with a green roof run. Lame that I won't be able to incorporate the chickens into my science curriculum quite as much. Not sure if the parents would appreciate my fomenting social unrest among the eight year olds.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011

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