Sunday, June 12, 2011

CLUCK Advice: To The Decision Makers in Port St. Lucie

This advice is not coming from your constituents but from 132 miles away over on the the other coast. So feel free to ignore it.

Please don't change your chickens laws for just handful of people. Citizens get justifiably upset when it looks like one or two people can get laws changed to suit their special circumstances. Make sure there is a diverse group with sizable numbers that support the changes.

And make sure they have done their homework to devise a chicken ordinance that will work in your community. One size does not fit all and simply borrowing an ordinance from elsewhere may not be the best fit for your community.

And don't let proponents tell you there won't be any problems. Instead make them detail how they propose to address the most common concerns. Make them earn it.

As for the opponents, tell are going to tell you a lot of things:

• That chickens are a "gateway" pet and next people will want goats, sheep, and cows. Feel free to ask those folks why people with cats and dogs aren't pushing for tigers and wolves.

• They will tell you chickens don't belong in cities. Feel free to ask them how the folks in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Omaha, San Francisco, St. Louis and many other well-known cities feel about being told they shouldn't be allowed to have chickens, when they all are.

• They will tell you chickens are farm animals. Feel free to ask them if they have ever been to a farm without dogs and cats.

• They will relate horror stories of unlivable situations from places they resided in the past. Feel free to ask the particulars -- were roosters allowed? How many chickens were involved?

• They will tell you chickens will attract scrounging vermin. Feel free to ask your staff if PSL currently bans fruit trees, bird feeders, gardens, feeding cats outdoors, and composting, all of which support rats, raccoons, etc. Then feel free to ask how many plastic rat traps are around the perimeter of city hall.

These plastic rat traps are common at malls, schools and even our Sarasota
City Hall, locations far from any known chickens. This one is shown open.

• They will tell you about diseases, and noises, and smells and that, generally speaking, the sky is falling.
Listen politely and then ask for the same level of documentation you expect from the advocates. And just as you demand the proponents make their case, make the opponents do the same. Where is the data, what are the facts?

And when the debate is over, make sure you are convinced and that when you go out to neighborhood groups you can explain why you took the course of action you did. If you can do all that, you should have a defensible solution.

Whether or not chickens are allowed should hinge on real information, neither the passion of advocates nor the fears of opponents.

That's our advice, from 132 miles away so feel free....


Brenda said...

Thank you so much, you made my day.
Brenda Richardson

Anonymous said...

How many people should be in this diverse group?
I don't think the amount of citizens matter what matters is the property rights.

The Peterson's said...

As city residents in favor of changing the animal code in Port St Lucie to include hens as pets, we thank you for your support.

Cluckers said...

Anonymous: We don't usually post anonymous comments, but here's an answer: The point was you don't change the laws just to accommodate one or two people. If there is genuine interest from diverse people, then it makes sense.
As for property rights, people that want chickens see that they should have the right to have pets less problematic and more productive than common pets.
Those opposing chickens will argue they have the right not to hear, see, or smell neighbor's animals, but this argument is weakened by wandering cats, barking and biting dogs, and and the fact that mid-sized dogs produce more waste than a handful of chickens.