Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 4:21 pm | A Few Clouds 66º


Ron Fink: Clearing the Record on the Lompoc Chicken Ban

Many people in the Lompoc community have sought to improve the city’s image by raising the quality of life.

Some think that like Aunt Bea on the show Mayberry, R.F.D., a 1960s sitcom, that having chickens roaming around your yard is the right image for our town; others don’t.

Two of the strongest political advocates to allow chickens, current council member Jim Mosby and former mayor John Linn, seem to treat the visual impacts their properties pose to their neighbors as an acceptable way of life.

Both have accumulations of discarded materials on their property and buildings they own or manage are in a poor state of repairs, some on the main streets of town.

Code enforcement action has been required to clean up some of these properties. For them having livestock roaming around the yard probably fits in.

Let’s be clear, chickens are barnyard fowl, and they’re only role in life is to eat, cluck and crow, lay eggs and drop waste all over their keeper’s yard.

Their noise disturbs neighbors from dawn until dusk, and their waste draws lots of flies. If you don’t believe me walk near a yard that has chickens living in it.

Chickens are not allowed in residential neighborhoods, but there seems to be some confusion in town as to who voted to ban them.

One of Linn’s strongest surrogates recently claimed that it was current Mayor Bob Lingl who single-handedly stopped the hen party.

Let’s review the history of the chicken ban in Lompoc.

Back in August 2015, the Planning Commission discussed a motion to recommend approval of a text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to allow the birds. It passed on a 4-1 vote (I voted no).

That action started a lengthy political discussion that only ended in March of this year.

The City Council then took action on this proposal during their Sept. 15, 2015, meeting. The amendment was rejected by a 3-2 vote with Council members DeWayne Holmdahl, Victor Vega and Lingl voting against.

This was the first of two meetings of the City Council where chickens would be debated. Some claim that it was Lingl who derailed the plan to allow chickens in residential neighborhoods, but the public record indicates something very different.

A year later, on March 15, 2016, the City Council discussed City Ordinance No. 1622(16) Amending the Lompoc Municipal Code as it Pertains to Animals.

The county of Santa Barbara is, and has been for decades, contracted by Lompoc to enforce animal control regulations in the city, and periodically the contract must be renewed to reflect current costs and/or new regulations.

The following definitions were included in this resolution:

» “Domestic Animal” means any animal customarily kept by humans for pleasure or companionship, including, but not limited to, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, potbellied pigs, guinea pigs, mice, rats, iguanas, and the like, but not including feral cats, exotic animals, or livestock.

» “Livestock” means any animals kept by humans that do not customarily inhabit their owner’s dwelling, including, but not limited to, equine, bovine, ovine, caprine, and porcine species, and any species of chicken, duck, pigeon, goose, turkey, or other domesticated fowl, but excludes bees.

This defines what constitutes a domestic animal for the purposes of what sorts of pets folks can keep in residential areas, and it applies in Lompoc and to all of the unincorporated areas of the county too.

Simply put, chickens are not allowed in any neighborhood in the county.

The Lompoc Municipal Code defines where domestic animals and livestock may be kept — only domestic animals, as defined above, are allowed in residential areas.

So, what did the council do about animal control? Based on a motion by Councilman Vega and a second by Mosby, they approved the resolution by a 5-0 vote to amend the Lompoc Municipal Code as it pertains to animals.

Thus the previous decision banning chickens was validated when all five council members voted to adopt the new city animal control ordinance.

Mayor Lingl didn’t singularly prohibit chickens or even make the motion to approve a measure that would prohibit them, it was two other council members and a unanimous vote of the council that enacted the “no chicken” rule.

For whatever reason, the Linn/Mosby team seems to be grasping at straws in their effort to convince voters that they have what it takes to lead our city in the future.

Choosing issues like chickens only underscores their weakness and inability to bring ideas forward that will enhance the value and visual appeal of our neighborhoods.

I think it’s fair to make political points when you can, but you have to take into account the full public record before you start claiming your opponent is responsible for something that was accomplished by a unanimous vote of the council.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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