The Food Freedom initiative has been officially filed and the Urban Farmers for Food Freedom has five months left to gather approximately 8,000 signatures to qualify for the June, 2016 ballot.
Fewer signatures are needed to get on the November ballot. The initiative would allow any “family household” to keep up to six chickens and four miniature goats. For more information on how the signature gathering process is going or if you want to help go to their website, improgoat.com.
— Catherine Doe
INITIATIVE MEASURE TO BE SUBMITTED DIRECTLY TO THE VOTERS
The city attorney has prepared the following title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed measure:
AN INITIATIVE MEASURE TO PERMIT HOUSEHOLDS TO KEEP GOATS AND CHICKENS IN THE CITY OF VISALIA
The initiative would allow households within the City of Visalia to keep up to six chickens (no roosters), and up to four goats. Only goats that are Nigerian Dwarf or African Pygmy breeds would be allowed. Male goats over ten weeks of age would be required to be neutered.
The initiative would remove the existing prohibitions of chicken and goats in all areas of the City not zoned agricultural or rural residential.
The initiative would allow a “Family household”, in any zone, to raise goats and chickens in compliance with the limitations in the initiative. There would be no limitations based on zoning, lot size, or type of residence. The initiative would apply to any Family household, whether in a single-family residence, multi-family or apartment unit, or in a mobile home park (The initiative uses the capitalized term “Family household” but does not define it; absent a provided definition, a common dictionary definition of “household” is: a family or other group that are living together in one living unit.) Existing and future private limitations on keeping of animals, such as landlord rules, mobile home park rules, or neighborhood covenants or CC&Rs, would still apply and would be privately enforceable.
The initiative requires at least ten square feet of permeable land area for each chicken, and at least one hundred square feet of permeable land area per goat. Setback requirements currently applicable in rural residential zones for housing poultry or raising goats would be negated, and replaced with the above “permeable land” requirements in the initiative, which would be applicable in all zones.
The measure requires shelter and fencing adequate to protect the animals from the elements, to prevent predator access, and to keep the animals from escaping.
Under the initiative, the permitted number of goats and chickens would not be counted against the combination of four dogs or cats allowed per household without obtaining a separate kennel permit.
The proposed measure does not require a license or permit for goats or chickens, and does not contain any vaccination requirements. The measure does not include any specific noise or odor regulations.
The initiative does not modify existing municipal code ordinances prohibiting public nuisances, or broader prohibition against keeping animals in foul or offensive conditions. The initiative also does not modify existing ordinances requiring owners and occupants of property to maintain their property. The initiative also does not impact existing municipal ordinances concerning disturbing or unreasonable noise. However, determining whether the keeping of chickens or goats in a particular instance violates these general ordinances because of offensive noise or odors experienced by neighboring properties would require a judgment determination.
Building and zoning ordinances are also not altered by the initiative. If structures are required to be added to meet the initiative requirements, they would need to be built in compliance with applicable building and zoning requirements.
This title and summary, containing 493 words, are hereby submitted in conformance with California Elections Code section 9203.
Alex Peltzer, City Attorney
Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition
Notice is hereby given by the persons whose names appear hereon of their intention to circulate the petition within the City of Visalia for the purpose of amending the Visalia Municipal Code to permit households to keep goats and chickens in the City of Visalia. A statement of the reasons of the proposed action as contemplated in the petition is as follows:
Family Food Freedom Act
We need to lead the way in enhancing the rights of families to engage in urban farming. In this rich agricultural breadbasket to the world, we should be protecting family rights to food freedom.
Our rights are being undermined by government officials that think they know better than we do how we should live our lives and care for our children.
Restoring the rights of Families to keep and raise Food Producing Animals will protect personal property rights and allow Families the freedom to provide for their individual nutritional needs and those of their children.
With the rapid increase of government control from the local to the federal level, we want less government intrusion in our backyards and in our homes.
This initiative will put the needs of families first and reestablish the basic human right of food freedom and independence.
We believe that families should have the option to own food producing animals on their private property, whether for financial, health, environmental or food safety and security reasons.
This initiative will change the top down type of government that is currently in place within our City.
If this initiative is signed by at least 15 percent of the voters of the City, it is requested that the proposed measure be submitted immediately to a vote of the people at a special election, or if less than 15 percent of the voters of the City, at the next regular municipal election for which it qualifies.
s/ Gingi Freeman
s/ Mike McCarthy
s/ Susan Walsh