I thought I lived in a progressive city, but I guess I'm wrong.
Listen to this. I can't understand how the City of Chicago could actually consider banning pet chickens in residential areas of the city when so many other cities are now allowing and encouraging it.
I wasn't at this city council committee meeting having my say because I didn't even know the meeting was taking place. The meeting date was posted only 3 business days in advance, and if I hadn't been contacted by a reporter I had previously reached out to, I likely wouldn't be up late tonight writing emails and posting notices on all the chicken forums.
I'm quite angry that I've been denied my due process, but am pushing hard to make sure I get my say. I was interviewed by the reporter today for an article to appear tomorrow, and I am hoping to get interviewed on film tomorrow for a local PBS news show, Chicago Tonight.
Below is an email I sent to my alderman tonight. I also plan to attend the alderman's next open meeting, which will hopefully be next Monday night.
Concerning proposed amendment to ordinance 7-12-387 extending the ban on raising pigeons in residential areas to include chickens, I live in the 45th Ward and I’d like to continue raising a few hens as pets and for fresh eggs. The proposed amendment would make this illegal.
The City of Chicago would be taking a giant step backwards from other progressive cities in North America if this proposal is passed by the City Council. In recent years, as issues of Green living, eating locally grown foods, recycling, and food security have gained popularity, cities and towns all over America have been relaxing their chicken laws to encourage carefully tended, backyard pet hens for fresh eggs. Media stories on raising chickens in urban settings have been increasing, including a recent story on National Public Radio about raising chickens in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.
The amendment proposes to address filth and animal slaughter in residential areas, issues that are already covered by city ordinance 7-12-300, which bans the possession of any animal for purposes of slaughter. Numerous other ordinances already address public nuisance. If enforced, these existing ordinances more than adequately address the concerns of the proposed amendment. Chicagoans who comply with existing ordinances keep chickens in safe and clean habitats and deserve to own and care for these animals.
Pet hens are calm, docile, and affectionate pets. They come when called, eat from their owner’s hands, like to be held, are quieter than dogs, and don’t smell. Chicken droppings make amazing compost for the garden and they eat kitchen scraps, helping to reduce food waste that attracts rats or goes in landfills. Keeping pet chickens is fun, educational, healthy, and environmentally sound.
I strongly encourage you to oppose the proposed amendment, and support Chicagoans’ efforts to live natural, cleaner, more environmentally friendly lives.
And, here's what I'm sending to the local public radio affiliate, WBEZ, who posted the audio linked above.
Regarding Shawn Allee's comments that pro-chicken advocates "dropped the ball" today, perhaps that's because the city council was playing keep-away!
If I had known that the meeting was to be held today, then I would have been there adding my testimony in favor of continuing to be allowed to raise my pet hens in my Chicago backyard.
I was first alerted to this issue on October 10 by a story in the Chicago Sun-Times. However, there was no information available about what happened when it was proposed at the September 27 meeting: was it sent to committee? was it tabled? what exactly had happened? I contacted my alderman's office, but they could not advise me of the details. Alderman Lane's office declined to offer any help, too. Calls and visits to the City Clerk, Aldermanic Offices, and City Council Services offices also yielded no clues. I was advised to await the update to the Journal of Proceedings, which should happen before the October 31 city council meeting.
So, I checked the City Clerk's website every few days. October 31 came and went, but no Journal of Proceedings for the September 27 city council meeting were available. I finally found the updated meeting minutes from September 27 on the website on November 2. No worries, though, since the minutes noted this had been referred to the Committe on Health, and my frequent checking of the City Clerk website had not indicated any Committee of Health meetings that had taken place in October; nor were there any scheduled for November as of the last time I checked the website the week of November 5th.
As I found out today, a Committee on Health meeting was posted on November 15 and held today, November 20. How can the city post notice of a public meeting only 3 business days in advance, and expect to provide a fair hearing? Give me an opportunity to speak up and share MY opinion on keeping chickens in the city.
My pet hens do not attract rats. There are other responsible chicken owners like me who want to continue raising hens as pets and for the fresh eggs. We are interested in reducing our impact on the environment, in obtaining more food security, and in just enjoying our gallacious friends zest for life as they roam the yard eating weeds and bugs.
I may be contacted at this email address or my mobile phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx.
This really stinks, to put it mildly.
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