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Story and photos by Kathleen Connell

January 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- At its first meeting of 2020, the La Mesa City Council and Mayor Arapostathis considered legislation on the city docket ranging from expanding chicken ownership opportunities to snuffing out smoking in public places.

The Mayor presented his State of The City Address at the January 14th meeting at City Hall. He pointed out that “the City continued to work towards its Climate Action Plan goals by embracing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), and becoming a founding member of The San Diego Community Power Joint Powers Authority.” He stated the CCA will eventually account for 32% of the City’s anticipated Green House Gas reduction, on a path to 100% renewable energy.

The Council also took testimony from residents on a proposal to expand the number of areas where ownership of chickens is allowed. Specifically, staff recommended that the Council:

  • amend the General Plan to allow raising poultry (except roosters) in all residential zones, and
  • amend the Municipal Code to allow keeping chickens in Zones R2 and R3 on lots developed with single family residences. (No poultry may be kept at properties with multi-family housing.)

As one resident (photo, right) explained, he loves his chickens, and wants to return “Thelma and Louise” along with "Lucy and Ethel" to his safe keeping.

The resolution to allow poultry in neighborhoods passed unanimously. Residents can now own anywhere from three to 20 chickens, depending on lot size. The ordinance also includes specifications for setbacks and coop size, among other details to protect the health and wellbeing of poultry, residents and neighbors.

In other business, The Council heard from several residents and the American Cancer Society, regarding a measure to ban on smoking in other outdoor public spaces.

Smoking was already illegal in public parks. The new ordinance:

Prohibits smoking in public places including on streets, sidewalks· and in unenclosed places of employment with limited exceptions: (1) Twenty percent of the guestroom accommodations in a hotel, motel or similar transient lodging establishment; (2) Retail or wholesale tobacco shops; (3) Private smokers' lounges (including hookah bars) (4) Any restaurant and/or bar legally operating an outdoor dining and/or smoking facility continuously (for adults) for not less than 60 days prior to the effective date of this Ordinance and not located or encroaching upon City property or rights-of-way.

Most residents who went on the record approved of the measure, with one speaking in opposition.

Some restaurant and bar owners who had previously raised objections to the proposed ban worked with city staff to revise the ordinance language and did not testify at the January 14th meeting.

The ban passed unanimously. Councilmembers were eager to point out that this ordinance does not ban smoking in private places.

American Cancer Society Government Relations Director Lynda Barbour, a resident of La Mesa, told ECM, “La Mesa expanded smoke free protections that other cities are already enjoying. They made most of the outdoor areas smoke-free in La Mesa. People now have the ability to enjoy a smoke-free environment, where ever they live and work in La Mesa.”

Barbour further pointed out that there is no safe level of exposure from second-hand smoke from adjoining areas, but La Mesa has now at least reduced the health risks in the city.


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