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Urban 'Farmers' Critique City Animal Control Plan

Critics say their push to liberalize rules for raising domestic animals has been hijacked by a police department plan that would make it illegal for shoppers to tie dogs up outside stores.

 

Last October a group of residents asked the city council to rethink rules that made San Leandro one of the few places in the region that did not explicitly permit the raising of chickens and bees by small scale urban farmers.

After months of work a council committee recently saw a version of this plan -- but not the one that proponents had expected.

The plan presented to the council committee would allow the keeping of limited numbers of chicken, rabbits and bees. But those pushing for new rules say the proposal is too strict: two chickens and rabbits per 6,000 sq. feet of property.

They also object to proposed permit requirements, which they see as an unnecessary expense to the homeowners and new bureaucracy for the city.

Dogs and cats also covered

The plan would also change how many dogs and cats a household could keep, and set up new rules for filing nuisance complaints for barking or dangerous dogs.

A proposal to ban tethering -- tying up dogs on the street while a person shops or plays -- has also drawn heat.

A summary of current and proposed animal control laws is attached as a PDF.

Hearing was heated

The proposal was heard at a Nov. 7 council committee hearing. Opposition sent the current proposal back for revision.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy said the ordinance is slated to come back before the council on December 3.

Before then critics want some revisions to what they see as a plan taken over by the San Leandro Police Department.

"The new Animal Ordinance crafted by the SLPD is awful," says San Leandro resident Gayle Hudson. "Chief Spagnoli hijacked (city staffer) Sally Barros's well-written document . . . on chickens and bees. Nothing about the SLPD version makes sense (well, except they are increasing the limit of dogs to three)."

Resident Janet Palma echoed those objections in a letter to council members.

"I would like to see the original ordinance drafted by Sally Barros re-issued as the stronger alternative to what is proposed by Police Chief Spagnoli," she said.

The plan seen by the council committee "shows an effort at expanding the role of the ½ time Animal Control position to include many superfluous issues to be able to collect permit fees (perhaps to justify a full time position)," Palma said.

San Leandro resident and 4-H leader Kristine Konrad has been working to revise the city's animal control rules for more than three years. After the council hearing she wrote:

"We respectfully suggest that the city not approach the urban farming issue from the enforcement/complaint/punitive side of things, but rather, remove this process from the police department and return it back to city planners and the citizens of San Leandro."

(Kristine Konrad's letter is printed in its entirety on Patch.)

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Chris Crow November 19, 2012 at 06:53 PM
I spoke to this point at the Rules Committee meeting this was first put out at a few months ago. A new municipal code entertainment ordinance that was also being proposed had the police making all the final calls as well. Urban Farming, having a pet, and entertainment are all quality of life issues and I don't believe the citizens of San Leandro should have to seek permission from its police force to enhance their quality of life. Perhaps, I stand in the minority in San Leandro in believing our police force should protect our quality of life, not control it.
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