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Dylan Lenzen, Zero Waste Coordinator
Animal Keeping Code Revisions
STAFF RECOMMENDED ACTION:
Staff will present recommended revisions to improve the existing Animal Keeping Code. Staff is requesting direction from City Council on proposed revisions to the Animal Keeping Code.
In 2016, the Animal Keeping Code was revised to clarify rules, reduce barriers for animal keeping on small lot sizes within City limits, and incorporate animal welfare considerations. As part of that process, staff committed to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the revisions and return to Council with any necessary updates.
Revisions to the Code are designed to make enforcement easier and reduce nuisances for neighbors, while still allowing for backyard livestock to be raised in City limits. Among the revisions for consideration are a free backyard animal keeping permitting system, containment of livestock in animal runs, adjusting setback requirements, and limiting the total number of animals allowed across categories.
Allowing animal keeping in urban areas has multiple benefits, including increasing access to locally grown food and an inexpensive source of eggs, meat, and dairy. Yet, without proper regulations, backyard animal keeping can cause nuisances for the surrounding neighborhood that are difficult to address.
A community-wide satisfaction survey was conducted in December 2018 through January 2019 and received 233 responses. The results indicate that the majority (58% of respondents) are satisfied with the existing code. The survey also indicated that 46% of residents aware of animal keeping by their neighbors experienced some type of nuisance. Noise and odor were the most common complaints. While many respondents recommended shortening the existing set back requirements for animal shelters (10 feet from the property line), the restrictiveness and setback requirements of the code were mentioned only 5 times out of 153 comments.
City Personnel Feedback
When discussing the animal keeping code with City Code Compliance and Animal Control personnel, they are receiving calls for service for noise and odor nuisances which can be difficult to enforce, animals escaping owner's property, kept animals becoming prey to predators, attraction of rodents and/or other pests, and increasing number of kept animals due to yearlings.
To reduce nuisances that backyard animal keeping can pose, the following amendments are recommended:
A free permitting system that requires:
Demonstration of basic knowledge of animal keeping best practices through a short quiz
A simple site plan identifying animal shelters and runs reviewed by Sustainability Section
A site inspection by Code Compliance
Acknowledgment of code requirements
Notification of neighbors by Code Compliance when completing the site inspection.
Containment of livestock in animal runs, which must be covered if keeping winged animals.
Altered animal shelter and run setback requirements, which shorten distances to property lines, but establish a minimum distance to nearest dwelling.
Limit total animals to five across categories on smaller lot sizes.
Residents practicing animal keeping are subject to quarterly inspections by Code Compliance.
City staff will determine if a permit will be revoked based on complaints, animal welfare and overall compliance with the Code.
Additionally, staff will seek Council direction on how to handle goats in the Code. Goats pose a significant nuisance in relation to their food security benefit and staff recommend requiring neighbor approval or prohibiting outright within zones other than estate residential or rural residential.
Staff will return to Council in October to present the revisions to the Animal Keeping Code pending the discussion on September 10, 2019.
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