Updated Ordinance for Chickens, Goats, and Bees Approved in Long Beach

Long Beach City Council voted unanimously to approve an update to the city’s municipal code that would ease restrictions on residents who wish to keep chickens, goats, or bees city-wide. The motion was brought before Council on June 23rd 2015, and received unanimous support before going through the City Attorney ahead of the second reading.

Last month, Vice-mayor Suja Lowenthal, who spear-headed the effort, told Council:  “I think if you look at all of the progress we’ve made in our city over the last decade, one thing that we can all say that is a theme about the efforts that we’ve made is one toward healthier eating, active living and sustainable practices.” The measure was initially introduced in July 2013 after about three years of work, before being narrowly rejected.

Long Beach Fresh, Long Beach Grows, Long Beach Farms, Long Beach Beekeepers, and a host of community organizations and businesses supported the updated code, which we at Long Beach Fresh see as a small but meaningful step forward in bolstering healthy food access and food sovereignty rights for Long Beach residents.

We noted one major reservation in public comment last month that the prior code and the proposed changes would not allow residents to share or sell eggs, as they’d be for “personal consumption only” – and council agreed that the code should and will be changed to allow sharing, especially since it would conflict with the new Community Food Producers permit process having been adopted by the health department, and is at odds with the Mayor’s personal enjoyment of neighbors Kathleen Irvine and Jim Danno’s backyard eggs.

The new rules are summarized as follows:

Up to four chickens that must be kept at least 10 feet from any neighboring dwelling and will not need permit or inspection.
Owners of five to ten chickens must keep them at least 35 feet away from neighboring homes and are required to obtain permits and pre-inspections.
Owners of 11 to 20 chickens must keep their birds at least 50 feet from neighboring residences and are required to obtain permits and pre-inspections.
Chicken owners must provide an outdoor enclosure and shelter for their birds.

Up to two goats, and owners must keep them at least 10 feet away from neighboring homes.
Goats must be neutered if they are male, and all goats must be permitted and micro-chipped.
Owners must provide an enclosure and shelter which conform to specific requirements.
The restriction against goats kept south of Anaheim Street will also be removed.

Up to four beehives will be required to be kept at least 10 feet from the property line.
Beekeepers will not be required to obtain a city permit, but they will need to show proof of registration with the County.
Hives must be screened so that bees can fly over a six-foot barrier or be placed at least eight feet above ground level.
Water sources must be available for the bees.

City regulations excerpted above, and further urban agriculture programs in the City, are listed on the Office of Sustainability website.

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