Thursday, June 11, 2009

Favor urban chickens? don't forget the support emails!

Looking to get the laws changed so you can keep urban chickens in your backyard? Make sure you've got numbers on your side by encouraging your friends and neighbors and acquaintances to send emails of support to your City Council.

As previously blogged here, the Asheville City Chickens group was extremely successful leveraging social media to show just how popular the the idea of urban chickens was in their town.

Our lesson this time comes from the opposition camp in Norwalk, Iowa (pop. 9000, Map), where a proposal to allow urban chickens was voted down by the City Council after a favorable preliminary reading made it seem the ordinance was destined to pass.

Sara Sleyster writes in that although residents came before the city council in person to speak in favor of allowing urban chickens in Norwalk, their effort was not enough thanks to an email campaign waged against them.
A proposed “urban chicken” ordinance was voted down by the Norwalk City Council last week after it had passed the first reading at the previous meeting.

Councilman Eric Delker changed his vote on the second reading of an ordinance that would have allowed egg-laying hens within the city limits after receiving 146 e-mails against the proposal. Council members Frank Curtis and John Putbrese also voted against the ordinance.
So, it would seem someone, somewhere had started an email chain to the effect of "do you want vermin-attracting, stinky, dirty chickens driving down your property values? Let Delker know you won't stand for this by emailing him." NOTE: I'm guessing at the actual contents of the email, but I'm sure I'm close to the truth given the history of tactics of those opposed to urban chickens.

Sleyster goes on to report:
Councilman Jim McClarnon called Delker’s decision to change his vote because e-mails sent from 146 people out of nearly 9,000 constituents “real bad politics.”

“They haven’t even seen this ordinance,” McClarnon said.

Councilman Alexander Grgurich also questioned the changed vote.

“I would agree with you if this was a poll, but this is an e-mail list that got forwarded on,” Grgurich said.
So, it bears repeating: if you have even the slightest whiff of an idea that there's opposition to your changing the laws to allow urban chickens (and there ALWAYS is, thanks to humanity's desire to maintain the status quo), make sure you get your petitions signed and your emails sent to show the numbers are on your side.

I'll bet dollars to donuts the opposition is already doing their part to push back.


Ulrike said...

The Johnston City Council (NW side of Des Moines) voted to regulate (sub)urban chickens last year, as well, limiting most folks to two. They limited the number of dogs and goats allowed at the same time.

The Homely Animal said...

I've got about 35 signatures on the phildelphia petition so far. (It's up just over 300 now) I'm so hopeful that the city code will be changed as a result of the hoped for 500 signatures. My neighbor has 11 dogs and I don't know how it's much different. Responsible pet owners shouldn't be a problem.


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