Boulevard Farm

Live on our urban homestead

Hassles with the City May 5, 2011

Filed under: Other — sarahtar @ 9:01 am

So it has become clear that either the city is out to get us, or one of our neighbors is. Either way, it’s starting to result in lots of trouble with the city. Picky trouble. Like standing in my driveway taking pictures of the broken storm window that was INSIDE our fence and outside the shed where we keep our storms for 3 days. Like standing in my driveway taking pictures of our garbage cans. (I still am uncertain what the trouble is there.)

I mean, last year, someone called the city to complain that we hadn’t mowed. And actually, we HAD mowed. What they meant was we have a hill that’s covered in nontraditional lawn materials (mainly short groundcovers, but also taller plants). Yes, it looks a little messy. No, they’re not planted in clumps and arranged in groups of three with little tiny fences around them. Bite me. The city clarified for me that they consider anything that is not Kentucky Bluegrass to be a noxious weed. Yes, they really did. I wish I were kidding.

So this spring, it’s that I trimmed up the hill (in an honest attempt to keep everyone happy) just before it rained for 2 weeks, and we haven’t had time to run the trimmings out to the dump, so they are in a VERY NEAT pile against our fence FAR AWAY from the public. I was actually going to take care of it this weekend, but technically the citation from the city gives us 21 days, so we decided to put it off, lol. Yes, I fight back in my petty ways.

But all this extreme watchfulness has made me decide – somebody is unhappy with us. I don’t know if it’s because of the chickens, or what the deal is, but we’ve pissed someone off and that person has decided to take revenge on us by calling in anonymous complaints to the city. (I actually half suspect it’s someone not even in the neighborhood.)

The result of this is that I’ve decided I probably need to be more cautious about keeping the animals in compliance. I’m already MORE in compliance than most urban chicken keepers I know. I keep them inside their coops/runs at all times. I try to keep them quiet. Their feed is kept in metal, rodent-proof bins. Etc. However, we’re getting close on numbers of birds allowed. Actually, we’ll end up just exactly where we need to be, but not necessarily on purpose. We have the six layers, then 25 meat birds, which gives us 31, 1 more than allowed. But then one of the chicks died, so we’re down to 24 meat birds… which gives us 30 – our legal limit.

But then add in our second species of animal – the rabbits. We have three. That bumps our total number of animals to 33. While I was initially unconcerned about this, I’ve decided to play it safe and shuffle some of the chickens off to Swinging Goat Farms’ rural half to live out their lives with Sally, our goat.

You know what’s funny, though. The city will not allow birds in the front yard, even if penned up. But if they would let me put a few birds in a portable run on the steep part of our 42nd hill (that the city made too steep to safely mow), the birds would take care of that area’s tendency to be weedy. Even funnier is that I’m sure the city would cite us, but the 42nd street side is NOT our front yard. We have a Kingman address. The front yard is the yard that faces Kingman. 42nd is the side yard, and the law says NOTHING about chickens in the side yard. Once we sell our house, I’ll test out that theory with the city, lol.


4 Responses to “Hassles with the City”

  1. Karen Says:

    Wow. Just wow. That’s unbelievable. You live in the wrong part of the city apparently! We’re in Cheatom Park, near Riverbend. No one here complains about anything (hard to complain when there are boarded up properties and burned out houses!) – except sometimes the booming of rap music!
    So sorry you’re having such troubles!

  2. Kelsey Says:

    Sarah, I live only a few blocks from you and I’ve had problems wtih the city as well. I have parrots and my hubby use to have a guitar. We had a neighbor complaining all the time. Then the city would come take their nasty pics of a pile of sticks in the yard or something totally stupid and send us a nasty letter in the mail. It got so bad we started to consider moving. Then I thought, “no, this is our home and we have a right to be here” so my hubby called the city and said that we wanted to go through mediation and they told us we couldn’t do that. I had a pretty good idea of who the neighbor was so I went to the neighbor that I suspected and confronted them about it. She denied it of course but I never had any problems after that. I think once she realized that I wasn’t going to be bullied in my own house and on my own property then she backed off, like most bullies do when confronted. I really hope you get this resolved one way or another. I’d hate for you to lose your urban farm or have this unnecessary drama in your life. Good luck!

    • sarahtar Says:

      Thanks, Kelsey. I got some insight from our neighborhood inspector, who is actually a nice guy. He said that when they get a complaint, they HAVE to follow up and if they see any violations, they have to report it. Even if the violations are not what the complaint was about. Now, I don’t know if that’s city code that they have to do that, or if it’s just that guy’s job that he has to do that, but that’s what he told me.

      He also said that I should keep his number and if, in the future, we are doing something like gathering brush to prepare for an eventual dump run (which is what we are doing), we should call him and let him know. Because THEN if someone calls to complain, he can tell them what we’re doing, and he doesn’t have to come out.

      He did say, too, that the city does not have to, nor will it, release the names of the complainers. I do understand that position. But there’s a point where it turns into harassment. This is the second time in fewer than 6 months – if it keeps happening, I’m going to push it with the city. I tried telling the guy that the Constitution guarantees me the right to face my accusers, but he (correctly) told me that that’s in a criminal proceeding, not a municipal code violation, lol.

      I honestly don’t have any idea who it might be. If it’s not someone from this neighborhood, then I know who it is. If it IS someone here, then I’m at a loss. I hate to be the stereotypical city person, but I know (and talk to) the neighbors directly on either side of us, but couldn’t pick out the rest of the people who live around here in a lineup. I can’t imagine who we’ve offended.

      (And the code violation actually states that violations must be such that they prohibit the public’s full enjoyment of life, or something like that. Yeah, a little bit of brush piled up neatly against my fence is keeping people from enjoying life.)

      • kelsey Says:

        Yeah, we were told the same thing regarding not releasing names and we said that we were being harrassed and should have the right to defend ourselves. I understand why they don’t give out names but it just makes me so mad that people can’t just come to you and address their concerns themselves. I mean, why get the city involved? We’re all adults here. I really hope who ever is out to get you gets over it and moves on with their life, or lack there of. And if it’s someone not in the neighborhood then they shouldn’t get a say. (sigh) Hang in there and keep fighting the good fight!

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