Friday, May 8, 2009

Good news: urban chickens vetoed in Provo, Utah

When I wrote about the future of urban chicken advocacy efforts, I espoused a straight-forward "get them legal however you have to, and then work on making the laws more favorable." So it's with mixed emotions that I read that Provo Mayor Lewis Billings vetoed the chicken ordinance passed by the Provo Council before it could go into effect this week.

I admit that when I first read some of the headlines about this in my news reader ("Provo's chicken law on hold" and "Billings balks at Provo chicken ordinance"), I was upset thinking that this one person was going against the will of the people to block chickens in the city.

Moreover, it's the first time Billings has blocked an ordinance since 2007. Now that I've researched the subject, I see he vetoed the ordinance for all the right reasons.

He's not against people owning chickens in the city, he's against the awkward way the Council wrote the ordinance that would allow six urban chickens per household in Provo.

The challenges Billings found in the way the urban chickens ordinance was crafted include:
  • requiring permits for chickens (that would have to renew annually)
  • hiring a part-time chicken coop inspector (at $50,000 per year! -- where do I apply?)
  • distance limits (15-foot distance limit from the property lines)
  • no deference to county health rules in case of an emergency (think: flu outbreak)
And he's asked the council to go back and rewrite the ordinance to make it more reasonable for those wanting chickens in their backyard.

The council originally passed the ordinance 4-3, and they need just a single vote to swing to get the 5 necessary to override Billings's veto.

I hope they do the right thing, though, and re-write the ordinance to make owning chickens easier and more reasonable. Just so long as they make urban chickens legal.


Michelle said...

I wish they'd make chickens legal in my city. We are considered "out of city" living and yet we still can't have chickens. How does one go about changing these laws?

dalene said...

I agree. It's a bit hard to get a real take on the situation because all the news sources spun it a little differently, but I hope the mayor is sincere in his efforts to remove the fee (it made no sense to me to charge an enforcement fee for people to do legally what was done illegally and w/o enforcement prior to the ordinance) and the funky distance rule. It does make more sense to fix that rather than override his veto. And I'm thinking about applying for that chicken coop inspector job...


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