First off, I want to thank everyone that showed up with such thoughtful and clever signs and t-shirts, and to express my gratitude to everyone who stood up to speak at the City Council meeting last night. You have no idea what it means to me!
A special thank you to those of you who came out early to meet KMPH Fox 26 News before the rally. The video crew was unable to keep the cameras out during our rally time, so they missed the big crowd that eventually showed up. But even so, the coverage was GREAT and is making some major ripples in the community after airing on the 10 o’clock news last night!
ABC 30 News was unable to send their camera crew to the rally, but wants an interview sometime today to discuss the details of the meeting. Other news outlets that covered the pro goat rally were The Fresno Bee, The Visalia Times Delta and The Valley Voice (their articles are not yet published, but you can bet I’ll be sharing them ASAP!)
We had a HUGE crowd show up. Even when lining up on each side of the walkway from the City Hall doors down to the street, we spilled out into the street and sidewalks – we couldn’t all fit!
And speaking of “couldn’t all fit”, even after they put out extra chairs, and even after it was standing room only in the meeting room, the “I’m Pro Goat” people still could not fit in the council room – many groups had to stand outside the meeting room in the hallway and watch from the open double doors!
The ONLY part of the night that I found unsatisfactory was that after submitting the petition to the council, Council Member Amy Shuklian stopped me to note that she “did a quick count of the signatures, and there’s only 900-something signatures”. I’m not sure how she came to this quick tally, considering change.org digitally counts the numbers. At the moment of my printing the petition out, the signatures were at 1,044.. and that wasn’t even counting the physical signatures we gathered from the Farmers Market!
Further, after my pointing out how major cities that allow goats have no problems, and that they have not seen ANY noise, health or trespass complaints against legal mini goats, Council Member Skuklian asked a city official, “How many complaints do we get against goats per year in Visalia?” and the answer was 1-2 per year. I felt this was slightly misleading considering a “complaint” in Visalia encompasses, “Hey, my neighbors have goats.”, whereas a complaint in San Diego, San Francisco, Portland or Seattle includes REAL issues, like noise, trespass, etc. (For instance, MY goats constitute one of the annual goat complaints in Visalia – but they haven’t broken any sound, nuisance, health or trespass ordinances.)
The only opposition that showed up and spoke was the one lone family that lives around the block and one house over from us. The wife spun a picture made up of outright lies about how the goat pen smells intense, “like a petting zoo”, and the overwhelming smell of feces is unbearable from her yard and blah blah blah. She made a comment that, “You can’t even imagine how bad it is till you smell it.”
This is why I’ve been so adamant to have the city council members come out in person.. because either my family, my house guests, all of my neighbors that share a fence with me and every single mini goat owner in every city in the nation is lying about the cleanliness and lack of smell with female miniature dairy goats.. or this lone neighborhood busybody invading my backyard privacy is.
There’s an easy way to definitively conclude if my mini goats stink – come out and smell their pen!! Smell my 3 foot by 3 foot compost bin made up of 80% goat feces that I’m saving to use as compost on my lawn next spring, stand over it, stir it up, catch a whiff… if you can. Don’t just take my word for it! See, and smell, for yourself!
So what was the answer last night?
After the meeting, Jonathan and I met with the City Planner, who was extremely helpful and accommodating (especially in light of our arriving en masse without a spot on the agenda!) and he explained the next steps in the process for us.
THE NEXT STEP: The City Planner has arranged for a private meeting with us TODAY to discuss in detail the next steps in getting this ordinance changed! He explained that these ordinance codes are long due for an update (the section regarding household pets hasn’t been updated since the 70s!) and that there are several different routes we could take to get this ordinance changed – some including legal fees approaching the $2000 mark – and each route has different wait times, steps to take, work to put in, etc. It’s a fairly complex legal system we have here, so after exhaustively spelling out each route, we’re going to weigh our options and then determine the next step to GET THIS ORDINANCE CHANGED!
I’ll keep everyone in the community informed. Because one thing is for certain: Whichever route we take, we WILL need community involvement and support!
In the meantime, the City Planner said he is going to arrange for city officials to come out sometime and see where the goats live, and get a firsthand look at what mini goats in the city look like. Having city officials in our yard, seeing the conditions for themselves, is a HUGE positive in my book! I know a visit will quickly dispel the blatant falsehoods of our down the block mall-cop mentality neighbors that would LIE to remove the milk out of my childrens mouths, simply because mini goats offend them!