NORWALK — The City Council Monday introduced a compromise ordinance to deal with the sticky question of keeping bees in a residential zone.
The council voted 3 to 2 to allow up to six beehives in a residential-horse zone, and grandfathered in a provision for one beekeeper to keep 10 out of 15 beehives. The city's code previously allowed up to three hives in a residential zone.
The residential-horse zone backs up against the San Gabriel River flood-control channel.
If adopted, the ordinance will end a two-year zoning struggle between the city and beekeeper Leroy Baca, who has kept up to 15 hives at his Domart Avenue property since 1980.
Baca requested a grandfather clause after the city advised him in 1984 that keeping bees in a residential zone without an approved animal permit was a zoning violation.
He had argued that because his backyard was once in Bellflower, where beekeeping was not a violation, he should be allowed to keep the bees. His property, along with others near the flood channel, was later annexed by Norwalk. Baca had also complained about the city's $100 fee for the animal permit.
He said he was willing to compromise "to clear the whole thing" up.
"It happens to be my hobby . . . ," he said. "It's my niche."
Norwalk launched a study in 1984 to look at various issues, including whether the city should amend its code to allow more hives on residential parcels. After reviewing the study in October, the Planning Commission recommended allowing more beekeeping in residential zones under certain conditions.
Several residents objected to beekeeping anywhere in residential zones, complaining of bee droppings and danger from bee stings.
Mayor Robert White agreed, saying his daughter had once been stung by a bee.
"I don't think they belong in a residential area," said White, who voted against the ordinance along with Councilwoman Margaret (Peg) Nelson.