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Pigeon feeder should not face nuisance charges, attorney says

February 14, 2012 | 10:48 am

Attorneys for a Burbank business owner accused of creating a public safety nuisance at Bob Hope Airport by feeding a large flock of pigeons argued in court that charges against him should be dropped because of insufficient evidence.

In September, Charles Douglas pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of creating a public nuisance and disobeying a court order.

Attorney Donald Ingalls, who with Bruce Kaufman represents Douglas, said Friday that their client should be facing only an infraction for violating the Burbank municipal code for feeding pigeons and should not face the repercussions of a state nuisance charge, a misdemeanor.

Defense attorneys also said Douglas already faces an alleged probation violation in a related case and that a new charge of being in contempt of court should not apply, the Burbank Leader reported.

Burbank Assistant City Atty. Denny Wei said a judge had already ordered Douglas not to feed pigeons.

"That's why we're prosecuting him, because he is in contempt of court," Wei said.

In his comments to the judge, Wei said a local statute does not preclude a state statute and said the defense's argument lacked merit.

Ingalls said authorities were trying to intimidate his client, and that they "wanted to teach him a lesson."

Airport authorities allege Douglas, 59, has been feeding pigeons since September 2010, a violation of municipal code.

Of greater concern to airport officials is the threat posed to aircraft when large numbers of birds come near the airfield.

In July, a Southwest Airlines flight was diverted to Ontario after it flew into 20 to 30 pigeons during takeoff, airport authorities have said.

Court records show Douglas has been cited several times for creating a nuisance by feeding pigeons.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Margaret Oldendorf is expected to issue a written decision this week.


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-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News