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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

PLUM is a buzzing like a busy bee

The Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) will consider the Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance at its meeting tomorrow (25 Aug).

This notice is meant to be an alert to inform those who may have been following this measure (or who have missed it entirely) that it is no longer a PILOT PROGRAM and that it establishes urban beekeeping as an accessory use BY RIGHT without any provisions requiring minimum distance from sensitive uses (such as schools), a public notification process (or notification to neighbors) of proposed or active hive presence. There is no maximum size of a hive (in the ordinance a hive is defined as ” a structure for the housing of a bee population”), so that although there is a limit to the numbers of hives relative to lot size, there is still the possibility that large numbers of bees (and a possible commercial honey manufacturing concern) could be located on a single R1 lot.

There is no relationship as to the community character (very urban, mostly paved vs. rural, hillsides, much open space, etc.) which directly influences the carrying capacity of a given community for bees. There is already a healthy bee population in the city with thousands of calls for bee removal received each year from residents and businesses in Los Angeles. Is there such a thing as “too much of a good thing” when it comes to bee populations? In the drought there are already locations where beekeepers are having to feed their hives honey in order to sustain them.

What happens when a beekeeper no longer wishes to tend his/her hive(s)? Should there be guidelines as to what to do or what NOT to do? What happens when a hive becomes Africanized?

And, finally, how should the City balance the interests of beekeepers and future beekeepers against the rights of those who are or who have family members who are highly allergic to bee stings. It is reported that more people die in the U.S. each year from bee stings than they do from much more sensationally reported encounters with wildlife. In July (7/7) a dog was killed by bees and on 8/4 a construction worker lost his life as a result of bees swarming. There are thousands of LA City residents and people who pass through our city who have potentially life-threatening sensitivities to bee stings. Many of those individuals (and particularly children) are unaware of their medical condition until after having been sensitized by a sting.

The attached letter is a DRAFT from Bee Safe Alliance that has not yet been finalized but which contains many relevant points.

If this is an issue of concern to you, I urge you to write to PLUM and perhaps to consider attending the hearing tomorrow to speak on behalf of a BALANCED ordinance. Honeylove and their supporters are well organized and are planning a hearing pre-event to rally folks together. They are pressing for passage of the ordinance. City Planing Commission has already passed it while many in the community have been unaware of the changes made to the ordinance.

The overwhelming majority of letters from neighborhood and community councils were in support of a PILOT PROGRAM. Mar Vista Community Council stated, in their letter of 11/30/11: “The MVCC Board therefore recommends the implementation of a Beekeeping Pilot Program in to test safety and develop best practices for future expansion.” NC’s and CC’s haven’t had a chance to schedule discussion on the revisions made and the final report issued in mid June. Why the rush?

WHILE IT IS COMPLETELY REASONABLE TO REMOVE CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR URBAN BEEKEEPING, HOW THAT IS DONE IS CRITICAL. WE NEED NOT GO FROM ONE SIDE OF THE PENDULUM (criminalization) TO THE OTHER (nearly anything goes).

Please share this info with those who may have interest.

Write to PLUM. Request time for discussion and amendments. Support decriminalization but oppose as drafted.

Councilmember Jose Huizar – Chair
Councilmembers Mitchell Englander, Gilbert Cedillo, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Felipe Fuentes – Members
VIA EMAIL: Sharon.dickinson@lacity.org
and send a cc: along to your own councilmember

RE: Beekeeping Ordinance Council File 12-0785

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