14 Sep 2014
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East Bay Abuzz Over San Leandro Chicken & Bee Debate

Public meeting Thursday night drew television coverage as the city develops an ordinance governing backyard farms.

East Bay Abuzz Over San Leandro Chicken & Bee Debate


To bee or not to bee?

That is one of the questions facing San Leandro as the city council tries to develop an ordinance that would legalize but regulate backyard chicken coops and bee hives.

On Thursday night a public meeting brought out supporters of a move to make San Leandro more friendly to urban farming, and gave voice to concerns about bee colonies and possible stings from backyard hives.

KTVU TV ran a report that featured an interview with Kristine Konrad, a 4-H leader who has written for Patch in favor of more liberal backyard farm rules.

Urban farmer Scott Terry has been another activist in favor of giving backyard operators wide latitude. Terry has a small backyard garden in San Leandro and a larger "farm" at a second property in Hayward where he grows produce for donation to the Davis Street Family Resource Center.

He recently shared his views with Patch:

I think the proposal bee regulation is still unclear on the concept.  The idea that beekeeping should be limited to a lot size that is greater than 6000 square feet is silly.  The proper way to regulate beekeeping is not to limit it by lot size.  The proper way to regulate beekeeping would be to limit the distance from which a beehive can be located from a dwelling.  Regulating bees by lot size would mean that a beekeeper could live on a 10,000 square foot lot but place his hives 10 feet from a neighbor's back door.  Lot size is irrelevant.  For example, a San Leandro resident might live on a small 5000 square foot lot that backs up to San Leandro Creek.  The proposed ordinance would prohibit him from keeping bees...and for no rational reason.  

Secondly, I am not in favor of the requirement to obtain neighbors' approval to keep bees, except under certain circumstances.  I think it's logical, and neighborly, to ask for neighbor approval for the keeping of bees on small lots where the hive cannot be located a minimum distance from a neighbor's home.  But requiring a beekeeper on a large lot who can locate a beehive more than 100 feet from a neighbor's home to obtain permission from his neighbors is ridiculous, and again, unclear on the concept.  In my case, I have been a beekeeper in San Leandro for 6 years.  One of my immediate neighbors was completely unaware that I had bees in my backyard until three years after I first obtained them. 

What do you want the council to do?


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