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L.A. panel calls for rooster restrictions

The plan, which must win City Council approval, would allow only one rooster per property. Exceptions would be made for film-star roosters and businesses such as animal parks and educational farms.

July 21, 2009|Victoria Kim

They are noisy, they drag down property values and disrupt the peace in neighborhoods, and they can carry deadly illnesses. And they sometimes associate with criminals, through no choice of their own.

Not to mention the havoc they wreak on sweet early morning slumber.

Pity the poor rooster, in some regions decried as public enemy No. 1. In the latest step in a years-long effort to rein in pet roosters and their owners, the Los Angeles City Council's Public Safety Committee on Monday approved a draft ordinance to allow only one rooster per property citywide.

City officials said the cap is necessary because of nuisance complaints, the possibility of spreading avian flu and Newcastle disease, and the illegal "blood sport" of cockfighting. The ordinance must be approved by the full council before becoming law.

The proposed law contains a rooster phase-out provision: Residents who own more than one rooster would have to get a permit, have the animals micro-chipped or fitted with a city-approved leg band, and probably would have to pay a one-time permit fee. These licensed roosters would be allowed to live out their natural, and noisy, lives in the city, but no "replacement roosters" would be allowed.

Violators would be slapped with a $50 fine for the first offense, $100 for the second and $250 for the third.

This being L.A., Hollywood-bound birds -- roosters used for film and TV shoots -- would be spared the limit with a proper permit. Businesses for which roosters are integral, including educational facilities and animal exhibits, would also be allowed to retain more than one rooster with the proper zoning allowances.

As it stands, roosters have it pretty easy: They must be kept at least 35 feet away from their owners' home and at least 100 feet from neighbors' homes, a rule only loosely enforced by overburdened animal control officers. Noise complaints are handled by the city attorney's office.

Some residents said they were concerned that the regulation would unfairly affect Latino immigrants.

"You don't see too many other cultures having roosters," said Margarita Amador, secretary of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council. "It's like having a cat or a dog for others."

Los Angeles isn't the only Southland city with a rooster problem. Voters in Riverside decided last year to restrict roosters to seven birds per property -- down from 50 -- and require them to be kept in sound-muffling structures from sunset to sunrise.

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victoria.kim@latimes.com

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