Residents Wonder if Goats, Chickens and Bees Should Move In
Long Beach, California is a waterfront community with all the problems and promises of high-density urban areas. Growth cuts both ways, and the community is trying to decide whether a few new, non-human residents will tip the balance.
Goats, chickens and honeybees are at the frontlines in efforts to make urban agriculture a reality in this city of 462, 257 residents. Two years ago, the council voted 4-3 to begin changing laws set up to restrict animal husbandry within the city limits. Unfortunately, five votes were needed to change the law. But that vote was the beginning of small changes to outdated city rules.
Currently, it is fine to live in Long Beach and keep a goat, or a few chickens, but substantial restrictions apply, making it difficult or impractical to keep these animals. These include setback restrictions. For example, current law requires that goats be kept 100 feet back from property lines, so that there is plenty of space between neighbors.
The mayor has asked the council to reconsider the rules that were almost adopted two years ago. Such legislation could reduce distance requirements and make keeping goats, chickens and honeybees a reality for many more residents.
Some of the changes may be coming about now as a result of steep decline in bee populations, and the positive difference urban-dwellers could make as beekeepers. But proponents say it’s about time these three classes of animals were treated like any other pet.