Thursday, May 6, 2010

Heads up: OKC City Council vote looms on legalizing backyard chickens

I've been contacted by Shauna Struby with news that the Oklahoma City Council will vote on May 18th on a proposal to legalize backyard chickens in Oklahoma City.  The meeting starts at 830 AM.

There's good news and bad news.

The good news is that the public poll on the subject was overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing backyard chickens in OKC.

The bad news is that only two council people (Pete White and Brian Walters) are prepared to vote for the proposal.

We need a lot of Oklahoma City residents to contact their city council people before this vote occurs and encourage them to vote yes.  Here are a few talking points:

+ Out of 8 of our regional peer cities, only OKC and Kansas City don't allow backyard chickens. Both Tulsa and Ft. Worth do allow backyard hens.

+ Permitting backyard hens would enhance Oklahoma City's reputation as a go-to city when it comes to local food.  The largest (and first) local food cooperative was established here, we have great farmers markets, and many other local initiatives promoting local foods.  This is particularly important for a city that wants to position itself as a leading 21st century city and a city that is hospitable to the "creative class".

+ Backyard hens are not dirty and noisy, we're not talking about roosters (always a sensitive issue in urban areas and also areas with a history of cockfighting, such as we have here).

+ Backyard hens make a significant contribution to local and household food security.

+ Backyard hens are a traditional way for low income people to add significant value to their diets.  Oklahoma City has a high rate of hunger, and the Regional Food Bank is reporting record increases in need for their services.  We need to do more to help people to feed themselves, irrespective of their economic situation.

Sara Braden is coordinating the pro-chicken response.  Contact her at .

Contact info for the mayor and city council is at .

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