I’m “No Goat”

Disease. Pests. Broken Promises. Property Values. Hostage Taking. Those are 5 issues every homeowner should consider as a group called “Urban Farmers for Food Freedom” seeks changes in city regulations to allow people to keep 10 agricultural animals running free in their back yards.

They are preparing to circulate a petition to force an election that could cost Visalia taxpayers up to $120,000. If successful, it would permit 6 chickens and 4 miniature goats – perhaps pigs and sheep will be next on their agenda.

What are the disease risks? On July 1st, 2015, the CDC – the U.S. Government Centers for Disease Control – issued an advisory to “Backyard Flock Owners” due to widespread outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry kept in backyards. The entire advisory is available online but specifically notes that children under 5, adults over 65 and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella. It causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps and can result in death unless a person is promptly treated with antibiotics.

Your kids or grandchildren could be exposed by visiting a friend’s birthday party or a neighbor’s yard. Chickens and goats also carry E. coli germs, plus mites and lice and enough dander to cause asthma attacks. Goats, according to a local farmer, are fly magnets and sound as loud as a car alarm but they don’t have an off switch.

The Valley Voice issue of July 2nd carried an article about the Avian Flu Virus infecting a huge poultry farm nearby in Kings County. Better known as the Bird Flu, American farmers have slaughtered and burned or buried over 45 million chickens so far this year to prevent the spread of the disease. Do you really want that risk in your neighborhood? A mutation of the Bird Flu has only infected a few hundred people worldwide but it killed 60% of them.

Before you sign the petition, take the family out for a picnic next to one of the nearby dairy farms. As you inhale the odor and fight the flies for your food, consider that you could have that same challenge on your patio if your neighbor is keeping goats and chickens in their backyard. Spilled chicken feed draws rats and mice that will ignore the fence between your yards.

For over a quarter century my family has paid local property taxes and like many other long term Visalia residents we have lived in a quiet area where folks observe the municipal codes that help guarantee peaceful neighborhoods. But, by demanding changes to those rules so as to allow agricultural animals, the Urban Farmers group will undoubtedly create hostile relationships between some neighbors. That would essentially break the promise of the serene city that drew us to Visalia – truly the gem of the Central Valley.

Allowing these animals could reduce the desirability and value of all of our homes. When you sell your house you must complete a standard legal document to disclose, among other things, “Neighborhood noise problems or other nuisances.” You must disclose if your neighbors have backyard goats and chickens. If you don’t disclose the nuisance, and the new owner then discovers the noise and odor and pest infestations, your legal troubles could be long and terribly costly.

The Urban Farmers group has already had their proposal rejected by the City Council and is now holding us hostage to give in to their demands or they will force an expensive election paid for with our taxes. There are already areas in Visalia where some animals are permitted due to grandfathered exemptions. It seems only fair that we ask members of this group why didn’t they choose to live in those areas – or in the country – rather than try to force their agenda on the rest of us? By refusing their petition, we preserve our property values and neighborhood harmony as well as prevent exposure to some terrible diseases, noxious odors and pest infestations and the noise from bleating goats.


3 thoughts on “I’m “No Goat”

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  1. Of course, the exact “hostage” argument could be made about the council, i.e., “they are holding the pro-goaters and the city voters hostage by refusing to implement the clear will of the majority.” I am not particularly sympathetic to the expense argument. Representative democracy and elections costs money occasionally.

    Also CCRs and Municipal Codes have routinely be changed and/or struck down by the Courts or other process. They are not timeless promises made to residents. They are at best temporary restrictions on the use of property-restrictions that can always be changed according to the social values of the day. They are not inviolate.

  2. The Heritage of the Central Valley, is Agriculture. My husband and I left Los Angeles in 07, to pursue a more green way of life and create an independent and sustainable homestead environment. San Francisco, as well as San Diego, along with many areas in Los Angeles; enjoy successful urban farming communities. We own our property and pay taxes!

    Personally, I have experienced goats to be cleaner and smarter than dogs. They don’t bark and are not noisy. I love the smell of my goats; I do not like the smell of dogs. They also provide endless entertainment, and share their love with us everyday. They can be easily managed like dogs, which makes their care, relatively easy(their poop is re-usable, dogs poop is not).
    Our neighbors have chickens on all sides and they do not bother us in the slightest. We do not experience predators; we do not see any sickness or disease. Considering the ancestral roots of Visalia/Woodlake/Exeter, the issue of chickens and mini goats should not only NOT be an issue, but considering the issues facing our society, ANYONE who is in line with food independence and sustainability should be considered a “leader”! Let Visalia stand as a positive example of urban farming, resourcefulness and a sustainable future for ALL of it’s community members!
    Let’s take a vote: Do you like Old Visalia or New Visalia??? Main Street or Strip Mall? Family owned or Corporate owned? The cities are failing…does Visalia want to fail?
    Draw people here for the Sustainable Community; for a Sustainable Future!

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