LETTER TO THE EDITOR
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

By Nancy Weagley, Capistrano Beach

A Dana Point City Council meeting agenda will soon include the proposed ordinance change to allow the keeping of up to six chickens at single family residences. In researching the topic, I found the following information on the Internet—with permission to copy and use the facts. The information was adapted from the book, City Chicks, by Pat Foreman.

Hopefully, the following abbreviated “7 Myths about Backyard Chickens,” article will clarify all the misconceptions concerning these “pets with benefits.”

  1. Urban chickens carry diseases. FACT: The Centers for Disease Control states there is no risk of avian flu transmissions to humans. Also, salmonella is a food handling sanitary problem, not an avian problem.
  2. Chickens are noisy. FACT: Laying hens—at their loudest—have about the same decibel level (65 decibels) as human conversation.
  3. Waste and odor. FACT: A 40-pound dog generates more doggie-do daily (about 0.75 of a pound) than 10 chickens (0.66 of a pound of daily poo).
  4. Chickens attract predators, pests and rodents. FACT: Predators and rodents are already living in urban areas. They are attracted by wild bird feeders, pet food, bird baths, trash waiting for pick-up and many other things. Don’t forget chickens are carnivores, eating fleas, mosquitos, grasshoppers, slugs, ticks (think Lyme disease), mice, baby rats, etc.
  5. Property values will decrease. FACT: Seven out of 10 cities on Forbes Magazine’s “Most Desirable Cities” list for 2010 allow backyard chickens. There is not one documented case that a home property value decreased due to a family flock of chickens next door. In truth, some realtors and home sellers offer free coops with every sale. This emphasizes the values of green neighborhoods, and residents who value local, healthy food supply and respect the environment.
  6. Coops are ugly. FACT: Micro-flock coop designs can be totally charming, upscale and even whimsical.
  7. What will neighbors think? FACT: You can’t control what neighbors think. But experience shows that once people understand the advantages and charms of chickens, most prejudice and fear evaporates.

Requiring neighbors’ consent is a civil liberties violation and an offensive to the American way. You don’t need neighbors’ consent to breed pit bulls, have guns, rev motorcycles or have a house-load of kids. So why should keeping a family flock of chickens need to be approved by neighbors?

Civic Chicks are Valuable Assets
Often overlooked is the value of chickens as bio-recyclers. They can divert tons of “waste” from the trash collections. Chickens will eat just about any kitchen waste including “gone-by” leftovers that have seasoned in the refrigerator. Combine their manure with grass clippings and leaves to create compost and topsoil.

Chickens are charming, amicable and entertaining beings that bring so many advantages to local agriculture and home gardens. They are truly pets with benefits.

May the flock be with you!

I hope you found this informative. You can find the complete article at www.chickensandyou.com/7_Myths.html

About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (7)

  • Here’s a fact on what THIS neighbor thinks (and unlike others’ false claims, I AM the closest neighbor to Mrs. Weagley’s former hen coop): they didn’t bother me a bit. Their little clucks didn’t hold a candle to the crows’ caws or the soccer games the next block over, or the early am squeaky peeps from finches. Some mid-morning or mid-day happy clucking that entertained me if I was out in my garden. One unhappy neighbor has generated all the trouble against the hens because they have “control issues.” They went door to door on our block and couldn’t find a single person to agree with them. Most people didn’t even know there were hens in their midst. Power to the poultry!

  • Whether the hens were noisy or not seems to be in the “ear of the beholder”. I would think the neighbor whose bedroom window was 10 or so feet from the coop would be an expert in this regard. Do you really think they would go through all the emotional pain and turmoil of having unsympathetic neighbors turn against them if there really was no noise? If your sleep was disturbed every night, and you asked your neighbor to do something about it, wouldn’t you be a little dismayed that your neighbor was unwilling to help? People should come before pets. I may not agree that my dog is bothering my neighbor, but it behooves me to be respectful of my neighbors and make every attempt to quiet my dog and allow them to live in peace. What your neighborhood did to the complainant is akin to schoolyard mean girls ganging up on one kid who is “different”. You have every right to disagree about chickens but it’s very disrespectful to gang up on someone who had a legitimate and understandable point of view. So much discord was sewn over something so insignificant! I’m hoping you’ll all take the high road; accept the Council’s decision, and make efforts to live in peace. Life is too short for this kind of animosity over a difference of opinion on chicken noise. I’m sure you’re all lovely people at heart. Time to put away the swords and practice some neighborly kindness!

    • Ah, but Susan, you have this all backwards. At first, the coop was about 12-14 feet from the offended neighbors. Then when they complained, the chicken owner moved the coop as far away as possible, but since some people are relentless in their efforts to retaliate, they continued to complain. So, the “experts” on the noise are not experts at all, and are dishonest about how it affected them, since MOST of the time, the coop was 50 feet from their home.

      We have been practicing “neighborly kindness” for a long time. That includes having the disgruntled, controlling neighbors ask us not to paint the back of our house that faces their yard…even though it is a pale, soft green and we’ve lost count of the people who pass by and compliment our color, so it is not offensive. We complied with the request, for neighborhood harmony’s sake. Paradoxically, the offended neighbors ignore all requests or pleas to do something about their dangerous dead trees, which actually pose a threat to neighbors’ structures either by toppling or catching fire. No, the neighborhood did not do a “mean girls” attack on the opposition. In truth, the opposition waged a 2-year-long dishonest and calculated attack on a neighbor with the quietest pets in the neighborhood. The “less-than-honest” approach to living in the community manifests itself in other ways, including lying to the school district for 4 1/2 years about where they live….so this is a pattern of “getting it their way no matter what it takes”

  • Oh wow! Nancy, you’re one angry woman. Suggest you talk to the “controlling neighbors” directly instead of airing all this linen in public. Sometimes the direct approach is the best way to clear things up. Listening with an open mind and trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is the most effective way to resolving neighborhood difficulties. Think for a minute: does it even make sense that someone would go to the mat and enrage the whole neighborhood if the chickens weren’t really a problem? Were they 14 feet, or even 50 feet from YOUR bedroom window? Expert quotes at City Council said that chickens can be heard from 100 feet at about the level of 2 people talking. Wouldn’t that disturb YOUR sleep? It seems you have a litany of complaints about other issues and you’re venting it on the chicken issue. Life is too short. Isn’t it better to live and let live and just respect each other? If my dog is too loud for my neighbor, he’s too loud period. It’s not up to me to judge or question that. It’s up to me to respect them and try to find a solution. You were right to change your paint to avoid offending your neighbor. By the same token, the chickens should have been moved FAR away to avoid offending. Here’s hoping you take the direct approach and try to make peace with your neighbor and promote harmony in your neighborhood.

    • You’re right. I should have stopped short of airing linen. But let’s look at your argument: “Experts” say that chickens can be heard like 2 people talking….perhaps? But the chickens are cooped all night and covered so they didn’t make a literal peep until they were let out in the morning. I’m with you 100% about dogs–if my dogs give more than a bark or two, I curtail it. I agree about live and let live–this is an especially true “ism” in Capo Beach. But one set of neighbors doesn’t see it that way. The chickens WERE moved far away as a solution, but the controllers wouldn’t stop. Perhaps you should know that the chicken family went out of their way to be good neighbors to the offended ones for years….trimming trees for free, sharing citrus, veggies, helping with gardening dilemmas. That goodwill was reciprocated by two “turn-ins” for different and unrelated supposed city or county offenses when the chicken battle escalated. It is tiresome when all the neighbors-save one-try their best to contribute in a positive way to the neighborhood and the warring ones profess to be offering olive branches that is nothing more than lip service just for appearances. And you’re right about “does it make sense that someone would go to the mat and enrage the whole neighborhood if (it wasn’t) a problem? No, it doesn’t make sense at all because it REALLY, really, wasn’t a problem! I’m a musician and I have a low tolerance for extraneous noise, so it is not the case that I’m deaf or clueless. That’s what is so perplexing and disturbing.

  • You make some very good points, Nancy, but you must admit that YOU weren’t the one who had a bedroom window within earshot of the chickens. It’s really hard to believe someone would make that up. Instead of condemning your neighbor, why not take the high road and just go have a chat with them? There are two sides to every story. Are you absolutely sure you have all the facts? It sounds like you have a lot of facts on one side, but maybe just supposition and assumptions on the other side. My father used to tell me to never judge anyone until I had walked a mile in their shoes. Why not try on those shoes and see if you can get the rest of the story? I know for certain there are many facts of which you are not aware. I have a feeling that if you sat down with your neighbor you might see both sides and develop some compassion and understanding. You may even end up making new friends. Now wouldn’t THAT be a wonderful ending to this story!

    • Pray tell me how I was not the one within earshot–with a bedroom 35 feet away and the others’ bedroom 50 feet away? You are still buying into their cry that “they were 12 feet from our bedroom”–and they were about 15 feet, but for a short time until the coop could be moved and then they still complained. Can you just accept the truth that “12 feet” was in the distant past? Please don’t throw that out again…or I’ll suspect you of being the neighbors in question who deny that things got better. The complaining neighbors are early birds (having to get up to take kids to religious group before school starts at 8). We sleep in later. We were not awakened by chickens. We do not have air conditioning. Those are facts. I also know some facts about the neighbors about which you are unaware….spiteful, underhanded tactics to annoy the chicken lady and the kind young man who lived there who did several helpful things for the turncoat neighbors.

      As for your conclusion that we “were right to not paint the house” to avoid offending the neighbor??? WTH? ?? Could it possibly cross your mind that the neighbors’ request was offensive to me? I mean, the audacity! Would you ask someone to only partially paint their house? For the record, I have lost count of the number of people passing by our front on walks who have told us that they just love our house. It is pale, cottage green…not grey-green, not yellow-green, not blue-green, just a very pleasant pale green. So, it was not at all an “offensive” color. As for sitting down and having a discussion with the neighbors….what is there to discuss? That their claims of intolerable noise had to be bogus? Every compromise has been made to assuage these neighbors. Meanwhile, they have done nothing for the neighborhood but to make demands of others. When a different neighbor asked them to do something about the dead tree that threatens 2 structures, they ignored it. I guess that is their idea of “being neighborly?” The best end to this story would be if they moved, and I’m not alone in this opinion.

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