Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Playing Chicken

As my city plods slowly towards considering the possibility of maybe, in some way, legalizing the keeping of backyard chickens at some point  in the future, we have an interesting story out of Florida:
A month after backyard chickens were legalized here, no one has yet completed the process of obtaining a permit, including the family who pushed for the change.

Ashleigh and Joseph Hart, the couple whose 2-year-old son J.J. has found chickens to be beneficial to his treatment for autism, said this week they are attempting to jump through the hoops required to secure a permit from City Hall. City Manager Dan Parrott said one other family has begun the process, which the Harts complain is cumbersome...

[T]he city is requiring the Harts to complete all of the steps laid out in a permitting process set forth by the City Council in December. One is sending certified letters to all property owners within 200 feet of their property line, informing them of the family's desire to keep chickens and giving them an opportunity to object.

Those certified letters cost $5.75 apiece, adding to the permit's cost of $50, Ashleigh Hart said. "That's the cost of two of J.J.'s therapy sessions," she said.
This is a prime example of why I'm not in favor of some permit process for having backyard chickens. It seems to be a very progressive thing these days to say, "Oh, sure, legalize backyard chickens---just make sure we require a permit, a license, etc." Kind of like how people talk excitedly about legalizing marijuana "so we can tax it and regulate it." It's not progress to concede that people have a natural right to something only if they have to jump through a bunch of bureaucratic hoops to exercise it.

I think the chicken-permit mindset is motivated in part by the idea that chickens are loud and noisy and unpleasant for neighbors. They're not, but it's tough to sell that to a bunch of suburban muck-a-mucks who worry that their summer barbeques and ChemLawn backyards will be ruined. I say legalize the chickens and then get out of the way---either that, or start also requiring ridiculous permits for dogs, who are much louder and smellier.

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