A few days ago me and my new friend and food freedom activist Susan attended the Site Review Plan meeting with the City Planners to discuss the ordinance change to allow miniature goats in the City of Visalia.
Our application was approved and we have been given the green light to proceed and submit the Zoning Amendment Application ($3532) and the Environmental Fee ($66) to move into the next stages of changing the outdated animal ordinances in Visalia to allow miniature goats.
The BIG question we had, which the City has been unusually hesitant about openly answering, was – “WHO is footing the bill for the chickens in Visalia that is currently in the process of passing?”
After much evasion, runaround and skirting of the question over the past few weeks, we finally received an answer today.
During the meeting, Paul Scheibel, the City of Visalia Planning Manager said, “Ultimately during an open city council comment session, there were three City Council members that directed staff to look into what it would take to make chickens legal in Visalia. We started research and we reported back to them. Basically, we work for the City Council and they said to initiate the municipal code amendment, and this is why it didn’t cost the chicken proponents anything because the majority of the City Council initiated it.”
When we pressed for the possibility of a fee waiver in initiating a similar ordinance change for the miniature goats (especially since it’s the EXACT SAME ordinance that is currently being amended), Paul added,“The City Council controls the budget, the cost of running the city, and our salaries to process this paperwork. So they are the only ones who can say, “Yes, do this for free” or, “No, we’re not going to do this for free.”
So to clarify – For the chicken ordinance that is currently in process there were no community petitions. There were no rallies. No one asked that it be put on the agenda. The council simply decided, hey! We want to do this!
Being pro-food freedom, I think that legalizing chickens is great, and I applaud the City for taking the initiative in expanding property rights and food freedom in our city when the majority of Visalians WANT the animal ordinances updated to include food producing animals. But therein lies the problem.
VISALIANS ALSO WANT MINIATURE GOATS TO BE LEGALIZED IN VISALIA. Visalians WANT to see my goats returned home. The longer this drags on, the longer we are without a milking goat to supplement my inability to breastfeed my daughters. Visalians have DEMANDED that the Council amend this ordinance.
In less than one week there was a petition with Visalia residents signatures approaching the 1000 mark. There was a large rally with well over 50 individuals and standing room only in City Hall. And there were ten individuals who spoke out during public comment DEMANDING that the issue be brought to the agenda for consideration. Yet the council simply decided, hey! We don’t care what the public wants. We don’t want to put this on the agenda. Go pay the city $4000 and then we’ll talk!
When viewed side by side, (how the Council approached chickens vs. goats) this is a case of clear and blatant discrimination and abuse of office that is approaching local government corruption. When city officials vote their personal whims and desires in one area with little to no citizen initiation, and then completely ignore the overwhelming requests and demands of the majority of their constituency, it’s downright shameful.
There are public funds supplied by the taxpaying citizens for use in initiating ordinance changes, and when a majority of the citizens demand an initiation, the bill SHOULD NOT be foisted onto the citizens – or onto an individual family under financial hardships who are fighting for their personal property rights and right to food freedom.
Let me be clear, to initiate this change, the council members DO NOT even have to even agree with the ordinance amendment proposed! They simply have to say, “Let’s look into this” and the $3598 application fee is waived. It’s really as simple as that.
TELL THE CITY COUNCIL TO LISTEN TO THE CITIZENS AND WAIVE THIS EXORBITANT APPLICATION FEE!
You can contact our council members at:
– Mayor Steven Nelsen; email@example.com
– Vice Mayor E. Warren Gubler; firstname.lastname@example.org
– Council Member Greg Collins; email@example.com
– Council Member Bob Link; firstname.lastname@example.org
– Council Member Amy Shuklian; email@example.com
You can also call the City Council and voice your concerns at 559-713-4512
We are still raising funds for the extortion money application fee. If you would like to donate, you can do so at our GoFundMe below. If the City Council Members decide to waive this fee, all funds will go toward Food Freedom activism in the Central Valley (and to cover the personal expenses of the volunteers pouring money, resources and time into this campaign).
So there’s a quick update for you folks! In the meantime, enjoy some fun pictures of us gathering signatures and raising public awareness at one of our cities weekly Farmers Markets! <3