El Cajon City Council-Chicken nugget

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EL CAJON — Councilman Gary Kendrick, who proposed an amendment to the city’s municipal code which would have allowed the raising of chickens throughout El Cajon, received a severe tongue-lashing from his mentor, Mayor Mark Lewis.

The incident took place at the last regular conclave on Tuesday, April 24 when Kendrick asked for future consideration on a measure which would amend the code for the cultivating of chickens on private residences.

EL CAJON — Councilman Gary Kendrick, who proposed an amendment to the city’s municipal code which would have allowed the raising of chickens throughout El Cajon, received a severe tongue-lashing from his mentor, Mayor Mark Lewis.

The incident took place at the last regular conclave on Tuesday, April 24 when Kendrick asked for future consideration on a measure which would amend the code for the cultivating of chickens on private residences.

“Raising chickens is already allowed in many parts of Santee and San Diego proper,” Kendrick said. “For over 60 years, this country has slowly taken away our private property rights. This is a chance to get some of them back — but very carefully. I want to consider the fly problem, as well as some disease issues.”

The councilman then added that his parents, in Santee, were in their nineties and had no problem with the animals.

A freshman at Cuyamaca College then stood to support the measure, saying that chickens cause less problems and make less noise than a common household dog; and that fresh eggs are less expensive and healthier than those bought in a store.

“The animals are better treated, too, than a bird kept in a small cage its entire life,” added Alesha Turner, 22. “They are not loud or dirty and very economical, especially in these hard times.”

Lewis took exception, however. Addressing Kendrick, he said, “Usually, I am in favor of whatever you bring up, but not this time.”

The mayor then related how, as a USDA chicken inspector in 1987, he was in charge of the Pacific coast when a deadly strain of Newcastle’s disease broke out.

“It killed thousands of wild and domestic birds,” Lewis said. “Something like this is not about just raising chickens and these are not little concerns. This deals with issues such as health, safety, animals and code enforcement problems.

“It can become a really big mess.”

He also spoke of the possible contamination of children by chickens which could be raised next to schools, churches or private citizens.
“If there is an outbreak of something like this again, the federal government will come and draw a red circle around (and quarantine) the entire city,” he said. “No wild or domestic bird will be spared. I’ve seen this happen and I do not want to see it again.”

Councilman Bob McClellan then took the floor and explained that he had actually raised chickens as child and that he doubted there would be another outbreak of Newcastle’s disease in the near future.

“It’s been what, 25 years since 1987, and there has been no news of this disease again,” he said. “If it doesn’t come for another 25 years, then I suppose I could live with that.”

Lewis countered that argument by claiming that “Illegal aliens” smuggle chickens (across the border) all the time. “All it takes is one illegal chicken to come into this country.

“We’re playing with fire and it’s not worth the risk.”

Councilman Bill Wells seemed to take both sides of the issue, saying, “I also raised chickens as a young boy, but I had no idea there would be such a heated debate over these animals.

“I do know that these birds are carriers of the H1N1 (virus), so I would like the staff to study this and bring it back for future consideration.”

Kendrick concurred about time for staff to research the situation, and somewhat sheepishly admitted the he did not mean to start a “bird Armageddon, here.”