A resident of Culver City will have to give up her five pet chickens despite her claim that the fowl are "educational" and do not attract rodents.
The City Council voted 3 to 2 Monday to deny a request by Kay Petitte of 4109 Albright Drive for a permit to keep chickens. Mayor Paul A. Netzel and Councilmen Paul A. Jacobs and Richard Brundo voted against the permit and Richard Alexander and Jozelle Smith voted for it.
Petitte applied for a permit last month after her next-door neighbor, Karen Avines, complained to city officials about the birds. Avines said that the grain used to feed the chickens attracts rodents.
Avines is also attempting to force her other neighbors, Michael and Rose-Marie Gamboa, to give up their four chickens because at least one, she said, is a rooster that wakes her up some mornings. The council will hear the Gamboas' case at a hearing on Sept. 22.
Petitte and the Gamboas submitted petitions with the names of about 50 neighbors who said they did not object to the birds. Officials from the county health department and the Culver City Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommended that the city grant Petitte a permit after they inspected the pets.
But Avines and her mother, Mabel C. Notagiacomo of 4131 Albright Ave., complained to the city about the chickens, forcing Petitte to appeal to the council.
Petitte said she has raised chickens in a backyard coop for 10 years and that no one had complained about them until recently. She said the chickens are "educational" for her children, and that over the years she has taken them to city schools to show them to students.
She said she does not have a rodent problem. She said the birds are not noisy, and that two wooden fences and a swimming pool separate the chicken coop from Avines' home. She said Avines' daughter used to feed the fowl and that she had given eggs to Avines.
But Avines said she did not know that her neighbors had had the fowl for so long, and that she never heard of her daughter feeding the birds. She said her main concern centered on the rats she had trapped in her back yard. She offered to produce photos of the rodents she found.
Councilman Jacobs said zoning laws were written to preserve residential character in the neighborhood, and "if everyone agreed (about the fowl), OK. But if one resident wants to maintain a residential neighborhood, that's all right with me."
Alexander said Avines' rodents may have been attracted to something other than the chicken feed. Also, he said, "chickens are a benign thing and don't impact the neighborhood."
Brundo said, however, that the neighborhood was "zoned residential, not agricultural," and was too congested to include the farm animals.