Friday, November 14, 2008

My trip to City Hall

Yesterday afternoon I chanced to read an email from Green City Blue Lake, a local non-profit promoting sustainability in Cleveland and beyond, and I found out that there was a meeting today of the Cleveland City Planning Commission to allow public input on a proposed ordinance to allow (and regulate) the keeping of small livestock within the city limits: chickens, ducks, rabbits, bees, etc. Because this issue relates so closely to our food supply, I knew I had to attend, and I am so glad that I did.

I haven't been downtown too much since I moved to the Cleveland suburbs about 5 1/2 years ago, so just getting dropped off at City Hall by The Professor was enough of a new experience. The security at City Hall is not at all intimidating: a guy looked in my bag. Feh, no big deal. My only other municipal building experience in Cleveland was at the Police Headquarters where I went to fight a parking ticket (broken meter), and they had sent me through a metal detector and my bag through an X-ray, then confiscated my knitting needles. This time I took a crochet hook, and I got a fair bit done on a little project bag during the course of the meeting.

The City Hall building was beautiful and stately, with a huge atrium and broad stairways, and I wished I'd had my camera with me to take a picture of the beautiful marble water fountain I passed. When I sat down at the meeting, I noticed that I was feeling quite jittery. I think municipal buildings make me nervous, or maybe it's being anywhere near the workings of government, I am not sure. I was glad that I had some yarn to keep me calm.

I was surprised at how many people stated their names and then copped to owning illegal chickens and bees. I suppose that as of today their flocks are probably legal (depending on the size of the flock, because the ordinance did have some restrictions), but still, yipes. Actually, I think that was what had me so jittery, now that I think about it. Even though they said many times during the meeting that these ordinances are enforced on a nuisance basis (like, they aren't driving around looking for illegal henhouses and busting the owners, carting them away in the paddywagon; if you keep chickens and you don't keep their area clean and your neighbors complain, someone comes out and... I don't know, but you get in trouble), it still freaked me out.

At the very end of the meeting, I finally screwed up my courage, with the help of the guy sitting behind me to whom I confessed my fear of speaking at the meeting and who vetted my whispered version of my input and told me "Yeah, they need to hear that." My input was simple: I just thanked them for considering more liberal legislation for livestock ownership in the City because they would be setting an example for the region and leading the way for other areas, our suburb for instance, to follow suit. Now I just need to find out who, if anyone, is leading the charge to get a similar revision to the ordinance in front of our City Planning Commission.


  1. Good for you! It is very hard to screw up the courage to speak to Government like that, but it's really necessary. And you are absolutely right about the need to allow people to keep small livestock in the cities and suburbs. Yay for you!

  2. I think it is great that you went, and extra great that you said your piece, especially as you are a little bit of an interested outsider for the moment, since you and the Prof don't have any livestock. And bringing a yarn project was a terrific idea--I totally understand how yarn can keep one calm. I should only be able to knit as I type!


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