Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance Passed By City Council

LA City Council   By Katherine Peterson  October 15, 2015

The Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance (CPC-2015-578-CA, Council File No. CF 12-0785) was unanimously adopted by the City Council yesterday, Wednesday, October 14, 2015. The Ordinance received 15 “Yes” votes and 0 “No” votes.  For more details or to review/download documents submitted to the City Clerk, including the City Planning Commission Staff Report and action, please refer to the online Council File at the following link:

Feel free to forward this information to anyone you feel might be interested. If you received this email via forwarded message from someone else, and you would like to receive updates directly from the Planning Department, please email katherine.peterson@lacity.org and ask to be added to the interest list. Please type “Add Me to Backyard Beekeeping Notification List” in the subject line and provide your group/organization/company affiliations and contact information (please include at least your zip code).

https://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=12-0785

What’s Next?

According to Section 250 of the City Charter, the Mayor has 10 days to act on the ordinance, meaning he can act on it on the same day, or 10 days later. Assuming the Mayor approves it, the City Clerk’s Office will then post the adopted Ordinance for a period of 10 days and a 30-day effective date will begin after that. Simply put, the earliest an Ordinance can realistically go into effect is 40 to 50 days after it is adopted by the City Council. When we have an effective date, we will notify the individuals on this interest list by email. 

Backyard Beekeeping OK'd By City of Los Angeles


“To bee or not to bee, that is the question. But there is no question. We must have bees,” Councilman Paul Koretz said, just before the council voted unanimously in favor of legalizing beekeeping in Los Angeles backyards.

Koretz said bees “do especially well in Los Angeles,” and today’s move could help address bee colony collapse disorder, which has claimed about a third of the global bee population.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs a committee that advanced the ordinance, called the regulations “a great victory for bees, beekeepers and our environment.”

City leaders and members of HoneyLove, a nonprofit that promotes beekeeping, said the activity aids urban farming efforts such as community gardens. They also said urban areas offer a pesticide-free environment for insects that are critical to the health of agriculture and plants.

“Today’s vote was a long time in the making. We’ve been working on this for about four years now, and we are as excited and happy as we possibly could be,” said HoneyLove co-founder Rob McFarland.

The ordinance allows no more than one hive per 2,500 square feet per lot area to be kept in the backyards of single-family homes citywide. Front yard beekeeping is barred by the ordinance.

It also sets buffer zones and areas on a property where hives can be kept, and requires that beekeepers raise walls or hedges high enough to ensure bees need to fly up before leaving the backyard.

A water source also needs to be maintained near the hives so the bees would not need to venture outside of the beekeeper’s backyard to get hydrated, under the rules.

The backyard beekeepers also need to register with the County of Los Angeles Agricultural Commission.

The commission has 129 beekeepers registered with 219 locations countywide, according to commission spokesman Ken Pellman. Of those registered, 39 are commercial beekeepers, which means they have eight or more hives.

The Planning Department and the City Attorney’s Office drafted the proposed rules after the City Council ordered a study last February into ways to legalize backyard beekeeping. The move came in response to a campaign started in 2011 by residents of the Mar Vista community and supported by then- Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

Other council members in the past have voiced concerns that the bees could pose a danger to residents, with then-Councilman Bernard Parks referring to the National Geographic documentary “Attack of the Killer Bees,” about a dangerous variety of bees encroaching into the southern part of the United States.

Planning officials who consulted bee experts over the last year wrote in a recent city report that the variety of honey bees typically used in beekeeping are “non-aggressive” but may “sting in self-defense of their hive if it is approached.”

When the bees leave their hives to collect food -- potentially coming into contact with humans -- they “do not become defensive or aggressive or have reason to sting,” according to the report.

City officials also noted that Los Angeles already averages about eight to 10 feral bee hives per square mile.

The addition of backyard honey bees would not cause a shortage of bee food supply in the city thanks to the area’s steady climate, according to the bee experts consulted by planning officials. But if there were a shortage, the feral populations likely would leave the area to find alternative sources of food supply.

 

Why Urban Beekeeping Is Right For Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times - Op Ed  By Noah Wilson-Rich  October 14, 2015

Benjamin Oppenheimer, Florida's youngest licensed beekeeper at age nine, shakes bees from the comb as he harvests honey from his backyard hive in Boca Raton in 2014. (Mark Randall / TNS)On June 10, 1879, Los Angeles lawmakers banned beekeeping within city limits. According to Mark Vallianatos, who teaches environmental policy at Occidental College, their rationale was frankly preposterous. Having noted the affinity between bees and fruit trees, they reasoned that bees attacked and damaged fruit, and concluded that outlawing bees was the best way to preserve crops.

Soon enough scientists debunked this ridiculous theory — bees are vitally important pollinators — and by 1917, the Los Angeles Times was calling the no-beekeeping policy "an ancient and still-unrepealed city ordinance." Yet urban beekeeping remains illegal to this day.

That prohibition may, at long last, soon end. In September, the City Council passed a draft proposal to allow beekeeping in single-family residential zones. A final vote is scheduled for Wednesday, just in time for this autumn's honey harvest.

The traditional argument against urban beekeeping is that it's unsafe: Bees sting, allergies abound. One family's pastime is a neighbor's ruined afternoon.

But let's get one point out of the way: Bees are far less of a nuisance than their similar-looking cousin, the wasp. Whereas wasps sting aggressively, bees only sting defensively, and die when they do so.

Regardless, the obvious rebuttal to the danger argument is that bees already live in Los Angeles — in trees and in the nooks and crannies of the city's buildings. L.A. County Agricultural Inspector Ariel Verayo estimates that there are roughly 10 bee colonies per square mile.

Besides, hives maintained by beekeepers are less dangerous than wild hives; beekeepers effectively tame hives through re-queening — the process of removing an aggressive queen and manually adding a docile queen.

And other cities, including New York, Washington and Paris, have legalized beekeeping without unleashing an epidemic of stings. You can find urban hives at the White House, Chicago City Hall, the InterContinental hotel in Times Square, Boston's Prudential Center, Denver's Wells Fargo Center, the Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco and the Sheraton hotel in New Orleans. If the City Council approves beekeeping in L.A.'s commercial zones, One Cal Plaza will join the list.

Whatever the risks of urban beekeeping, there are tangible benefits too.

Bees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy annually in their role as pollinators of more than 100 fruit and vegetable crops. That number balloons to $100 billion globally. I won't pretend that bees will put a dent in L.A.'s unemployment rate or add significantly to the state's gross domestic product. But legal beekeeping would spur job creation, allowing skilled professionals to make a living by installing and maintaining beehives for residences, companies and schools.

Urban beekeeping is good for the planet too. "Colony collapse disorder," the modern bee plague, seems to have ended as mysteriously as it began, lasting from 2006 to 2011. Yet 1 in 3 beehives still fails each year, as bees remain under threat by a triad of killers: agricultural chemicals, infectious disease and habitat loss.

While scientists, politicians and businesspeople figure out a viable solution to the former two problems, urban beekeepers can help fight the latter. Beehives in urban environments are actually more productive than hives in surrounding rural areas, perhaps because urban hives endure winter weather better than their rural counterparts.

Bees don't attack fruit, as L.A. lawmakers once believed, and — scare stories to the contrary — don't attack people either, especially if beekeepers are in charge of the hives. The city should fix its 19th century mistake, and legalize urban beekeeping.

Noah Wilson-Rich is the founder of the Best Bees Co., a full-service beekeeping operation that delivers, installs and manages beehives for residents and businesses in select markets throughout the country. He is the author of "The Bee: A Natural History."

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-1014-wilson-rich-urban-beekeeping-la-20151014-story.html

Beekeeping Now Legal For Residential City Of Los Angeles Properties

Los Angeles City Council just voted unanimously to approve the new ordinance permitting beekeeping in City of Los Angeles residential zones. At this point, bees may be kept in the following zones:
Residential: RA, RE, RS, R1
Agricultural: A1, A2
Industrial: MR1, MR2, M1, M2 and M3

Please read the actual ordinance to insure your arrangement complies with all zoning requirements. Please note this includes registering with the County Agricultural Commissioner as a beekeeper. 

The new residential beekeeping ordinance: http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2012/12-0785_misc_09-18-2015.pdf
Approved uses listed alphabetically (2003): http://cityplanning.lacity.org/Code_Studies/Misc/uselist2.pdf

Move To Okay Bee Hives In LA Back Yards Is Misguided

Western Farm Press in Farm Press Blog   By Tom Fitchette    September 8, 2015

Sometimes being observant means more than just viewing the large font.

Sometimes it means asking questions.

With all the media attention on honeybees there’s little surprise that Los Angeles may legalize backyard beekeeping, according to published reports. Backyard hobbyists could be allowed to try their hand at beekeeping in Los Angeles if the city county passes an ordinance.

Bad idea.

This isn’t an attack on honeybees. It’s a challenge over the lack of common sense displayed by the city council and those proposing this idea.

Let’s just say there are sure to be a host of unintended consequences that could arise from such a move.

What happens if Africanized bees move in? What will these bees forage on in LA’s urban jungle?

Who’s going to oversee these hives? What will their credentials be?

Who's going to tell the neighbor he can't spray his trees with certain chemicals because there's a hive in the adjacent yard?

The ordinance proposes one hive per 2,500 square feet within the backyards of single-family homes.

Do they realize that bees fly?

Proponents say the backyard beehives will aid agriculture. How? Almond trees and melons are not common vegetation in the City of Angels.

Proponents apparently also argue that this will help slow the decline of bees through colony collapse disorder. Really? How?

If the Los Angeles City Council is truly interested in helping agriculture, I’m sure farmers elsewhere in California would welcome their genuine support as financiers of scientific research.

Here’s a thought: start by donating some money – real money – to Huanglongbing (citrus greening) research and other projects aimed at reducing invasive pests and the diseases they can spread.

Since Los Angeles already has a growing number of confirmed cases of citrus greening that’s a real and timely issue, the city council could get behind if it truly wants to help California agriculture.

Allowing bee colonies to be raised in urban and suburban back yards by hobbyists is not a good idea.

Read at: http://goo.gl/k6QxNa

Backyard Beekeeping in LA City: September 2 - PLUM Committee of City Council

LA City Planning Committee   9/1/2015
City Council will be reviewing the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) recommendation to move the proposed Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance to the City Attorney's Office at tomorrow morning's meeting -- 10 am, Item 15 on the agenda.  The hearing for the ordinance was held during the PLUM meeting and it could go on consent (meaning that they can act on it without discussion), but a Councilmember can call it out for discussion.  Planning staff will be present in case any questions arise. Call into Council Phone at (213) 621-2489 to listen to the meeting, or you can stream video of the meeting.
We apologize for the late notice.
What's Next: City Attorney's Office transmits the final ordinance to PLUM, who will then forward it to the full City Council
The next step will be to wait for the City Attorney's Office to review the Ordinance for form and legality and transmit it back to the PLUM Committee, who will then forward it to the full City Council. While the timeline for these steps is uncertain, the PLUM Committee stated their eagerness to see the Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance move through the process as quickly as possible, which was noted by the City Attorney.
We will notify you when the Ordinance has reached its next milestone.
Thank You

LA Council Committee Supports Urban Beekeeping Proposal

MyNewsLA.com    By Alexander Nguyen  August 25, 2015

A proposal to allow hobbyist beekeepers in Los Angeles to maintain hives in their backyards won the

support of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee on Tuesday.

The panel approved a draft ordinance setting up rules for urban beekeeping, but under council rules, the City Attorney’s Office still needs to prepare a final version.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said he plans to waive the ordinance out of committee once the final draft of the ordinance is prepared, so it will go directly to a vote by the full 15-member City Council.

Under the draft ordinance, beekeeping would only be allowed in certain areas of a single-family property, essentially restricted to the backyard.

The rules also call for beekeepers to raise walls or hedges that are high enough to keep bees within their hive area and to maintain a water source near the hives so the bees would not need to venture outside of the beekeeper’s backyard to get hydrated.

If the City Council approves the ordinance, Los Angeles would join Santa Monica in legalizing so-called “backyard” or “urban” beekeeping. The hobby also is allowed in other urban areas such as New York City and Denver.

The Los Angeles Planning Department and the City Attorney’s Office created the proposed rules after the City Council ordered a study last February into ways to legalize backyard beekeeping.

The council action came in response to a growing chorus of Angelenos advocating for “urban beekeeping,” including from some residents in the Mar Vista area who said increased beekeeping helps to fight a troubling, downward trend in the bee population that could threaten the health of local agriculture.

Some council members voiced concerns, however, that the bees could pose a danger to residents, with then-Councilman Bernard Parks referring to the National Geographic documentary “Attack of the Killer Bees,” about a dangerous variety of bees that appear to be encroaching into southern United States.

Planning officials who consulted bee experts over the last year wrote in a recent city report that the variety of honey bees used in beekeeping are “non-aggressive,” but may “sting in self-defense of their hive if it is approached.”

The report adds that when the bees leave their hives to collect food — potentially coming in contact with humans — they “do not become defensive or aggressive or have reason to sting.”

The report also noted that Los Angeles already averages about 8 to 10 feral bee hives per each square mile. The addition of backyard honey bees would not cause a shortage of bee food supply in the city due to the area’s steady climate, but if there were a shortage, the feral populations would likely leave the area to find alternative sources of food supply, according to the bee experts consulted by planning officials.

— City News Service

Read at: http://mynewsla.com/government/2015/08/25/council-committee-supports-urban-beekeeping-proposal/

Backyard Beekeeping in LA City: August 25, PLUM Committee of City Council

What's Next: 

Date: August 25, 2015  Time: 2:30 p.m.

Where:  Room 350 (third floor), City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

The next step will be to present the proposed Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance provisions to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) of the City Council:

To check the agenda online for this PLUM meeting, once it is posted, please go to:
http://www.lacity.org/city-government/elected-official-offices/city-council/council-calendar?date=2015-08-25 PLUM reviews all planning-related matters. This is a public hearing, and there will be an opportunity for the public to submit public comment in writing or verbally. The next step after this meeting will be presentation to the full City Council at a later date.
As you know, the City Planning Commission approved the proposed Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance provisions at their regular meeting on May 14, 2015, and recommended to the City Council that it adopt the backyard beekeeping ordinance as shown on Appendix A of the Staff Report (http://planning.lacity.org/Code_Studies/beekeeping/StaffReport.pdf. Audio of the CPC meeting on May 14, 2015 is available online:  http://planning.lacity.org/MeetingsNHearings/Dsp_Results_CPC.cfm?Subtype=Agenda

LA City Planning Commission Approves Ordinance for Backyard Beekeeping

Today the LA City Planning Commission approved the ordinance for Backyard Beekeeping in the City of Los Angeles. Very strong beekeeping turnout at the city planning commission. Some 30 people spoke in public comments for it. Thank you to the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and HoneyLove http://honeylove.org/. View Ordinance: https://www.dropbox.c…/CPC%20Beekeepingom/%20Staff%20Report…

May 14, 8:30AM: City Planning Commission - Backyard Beekeeping in City of Los Angeles

MAY 14, 2015  CITY PLANNING COMMISSION - Backyard Beekeeping in City of Los Angeles

WHERE: Los Angeles City Hall - 200 North Spring Street, Room 350, Los Angeles, CA. 

DATE: Thursday, May 14, 2015 

TIME: 8:30AM 
We received word that our agenda item is up first (8:30am). Please arrive early to fill out a speaker card!!

AGENDA: http://planning.lacity.org/MeetingsNHearings/dsp_viewFileDetail.cfm?filename=49495

READ: Backyard Beekeeping Final Staff Report

PDF of the presentation from the hearing on 3-19-15: Beekeeping Presentation Staff Hearing 3-19-15

NOTE from Bill Lewis, 2014 President, California State Beekeepers Association; past President and current member Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association:
"I would want to stress that allowing beekeeping in cities will help mitigate aggressive bees (feral or otherwise).  Beekeepers are the first to recognize aggressive behavior and will take steps (re-queen or destroy) to mitigate aggressive bees.  Beekeepers maintaining hives with bees that display gentle behavior raise drones that will mate with queens from feral colonies that display aggressive behavior also helping to dilute the aggressive gene pool.  Without beekeepers in the cities, there is no 1st line of defence."

Your attendance makes a difference. Please try to attend and speak up on urging responsible beekeeping in an urban environment. 

Contact:
Katie Peterson, City Planning Associate
email: katherine.peterson@lacity.org
phone: (213) 978-1445
mail: 200 N. Spring St., Room 701, M/S 395
Los Angeles, CA 90012