The La Canada Flintridge City Council has struck a compromise in the longstanding dispute between horse owners and homeowners on the location of stables.
The council voted unanimously to require that all stables in town be at least 50 feet from adjacent residential property--15 feet more than now required by law. However, the council said the new rule would not be enforced for existing stables for at least a year.
At the end of the year, the council will review the politically sensitive ordinance and decide whether to enforce the 50-foot limit on all horse owners or to retain the 35-foot requirement for existing stables that has been in effect since before the city incorporated in 1976.
The council vote Monday capped 11 months of bitter debates between horse owners, who feared they would have to give up their steeds under the new law, and residents, who complained about odors and flies from stables.
But both sides appeared mollified by the compromise, which was first suggested by Councilman O. Warren Hillgren.
"It's better than nothing," said resident Jack Courtney, who originally had requested a 50-foot restriction for current and future horse owners.
Bobbie Parady, one of the leaders of the horse owner groups, called the one-year grace period "a little progress." But, she stressed: "We're not going to call it quits." Earlier this month, Parady collected more than 1,000 signatures on a petition asking the council to keep the 35-foot distance. La Canada Flintridge has about 200 horse owners, senior planner Rob Jones estimated.
The council also voted Monday to require that horse owners obtain permits. Information on the permit applications, along with the one-year grace period, will enable city officials to tally the number of properties and horses that might be affected if the council opts to enforce a 50-foot minimum distance requirement for all properties, Mayor Barbara Pieper said.
Under the proposed permit plan, owners must list their property and register the number of horses they own. The council expects to charge a flat fee per lot, perhaps $25.
Other changes to the existing law include requiring a minimum of 15,000 feet to board up to two horses, with 5,000 more feet required for each extra horse. The council also established a five-horse limit per lot unless special permits are obtained.
Ordinance provisions that have not evoked controversy call for:
Specific sanitation measures, including daily removal of manure from grounds, chemical spraying for flies and odors, and installation of sprinkler systems.
Denial of permits for more than five animals if two or more adjacent residents object.
Prohibition of commercial boarding or advertisements for boarding.
Public hearings that may be called before issuing operating permits for new animal clubs.
Adoption of the measure is expected at the council's meeting April 7, and it will become law 30 days after that.