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L.A. council clamps down on a crowing problem: roosters

September 22, 2009 |  1:02 pm


Hoping to quell the amount of crowing across the city, the Los Angeles City Council passed a law today limiting the number of roosters that each household can own.
In a 12-0 vote, the council agreed to allow only one rooster per property unless such birds are part of a “permitted and licensed commercial, agricultural or industrial business” — and on a street with the proper zoning.

Roosters can be heard in a number of neighborhoods around the city, from Wilmington near the harbor to the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who crafted the measure, said it would provide peace and quiet to her constituents while helping animal control officers crack down on cockfighting.

“Roosters have their place in this city, but we think having more than one per property causes problems,” she said.

Officials with the Department of Animal Services said those who currently have more than one rooster can apply for a one-time, $50 permit that will allow them to keep two more.

Roosters can be found in some of the most crowded communities near downtown, where daily crowing competes with the roar of freeways. Still, opposition to the law has been strongest in the San Fernando Valley, where residents have argued that cockfighting is already a crime in California.
Ellie Hamblen, who lives in Lake View Terrace, asked the council to meet with the leadership of the American Poultry Assn. to come up with an acceptable compromise.

“We don’t want this ordinance to be rushed through,” she said.

Hahn’s ordinance drew support from the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which described it as a new measure  to address cockfighting. One real estate developer said the law also would bring relief to residents of his 28-unit development in Panorama City.

Michael Mekeel, a resident of Hollywood, said his tenants have had to drown out the bird noise by turning up their televisions and wearing earplugs.

Hahn’s ordinance also won the backing of Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who has roughly a dozen chickens at his Mar Vista home and regularly distributes eggs to his colleagues. Rosendahl said he loves the sound of a rooster crowing but conceded that others in Los Angeles may not feel the same way.

“Having even one rooster in an urban environment is a problem,” he said. “Because the sound just travels.”

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall

Photo: A backyard enclosure at a South L.A. home in 2008. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times