Friday, February 11, 2011

Action Alert: Contact Your Neighborhood Organization!

(Scroll down to the Action Alert to read about how you can help, including a sample email.)

Our efforts to pass a comprehensive Food-Producing Animals ordinance (which would allow Denver residents to keep up to 8 hen chickens and 2 dwarf dairy goats without an expensive permit) is going well.

Right now we're in major community outreach mode, or as one of the participants in the process calls it -- "Outreach-a-Palooza!" Sustainable Food Denver has been contacting neighborhood organizations throughout the city, as well as other community groups (like moms' groups). Our goals are to let them know about the ordinance, to answer any questions they have, and to collect feedback that we can use to make the ordinance better. Besides the obvious benefits of working with the community before passing any new laws, it's also important to get the neighborhood organizations on board if we expect our City Council to pass the ordinance. 

There's an especially effective way to reach out to neighborhood organizations -- if everyone who supports backyard Food-Producing Animals contacts their neighborhood organization and asks them to get behind the ordinance. The Registered Neighborhood Organziations (RNO) exist to represent *you* -- the resident. Let them know your thoughts on this issue!

ACTION ALERT -- Here's what you can do:

1. If you don't know which RNO represents your neighborhood (or don't have their email address), click here for that information. The form will ask you to enter your address, and then it will give you a list of the RNOs for your area, plus their contact information.

2. Send your RNO an email explaining that you live in their neighborhood, and you would like them to support the Food-Producing Animals ordinance. (If you'd like, you can direct them to the ordinance online by asking them to go to and clicking "Animals" ) Share with them why you would like to see a limited number of backyard chickens and dwarf goats allowed without a permit. Your reasons could be based on health, food safety & security, economics, environmental concerns, or all of the above!

3. Share this email with your friends -- ask them to join in the effort to support healthy food in our city!

If it's helpful to you, I've composed a sample email that you can use -- or edit -- as you see fit. Thank you for taking the time to contact your RNO about this issue. This kind of community work is very important!
Dear [name of neighborhood organization],

My name is _______, and I am a resident of [neighborhood]. I am writing to let you know that I strongly support the new Food-Producing Animals (hen chickens and dwarf dairy goats) ordinance that is being proposed by Councilman Nevitt, in conjunction with CPD, Animal Control, and the City Attorney's office. I hope that [name of neighborhood organization] will join me in supporting the ordinance, and asking City Council for its passage.

Denver residents are currently allowed to keep chickens and dwarf goats in their backyards. However, the permitting process that's required to keep these animals legally is incredibly expensive and bureaucratic. The cost and amount of process involved is completely out of step with what is required for other types of animals in Denver -- dogs, cats, pigeons, snakes, etc. And yet, hen chickens (not roosters) and dwarf dairy goats provide affordable, healthy food for families. Plus, they're quieter and safer than many of the other types of animals I mentioned.

Denver isn't alone in wanting to make this change. Other cities -- like Seattle, Portland, New York City, Chicago, and many others -- have more progressive Food-Producing Animals policies than we do. I don't believe that people should be able to own these animals without any sort of restrictions at all. However, the draft ordinance that has been created is kind of like what was passed a few years ago for backyard beekeeping. It allows a limited number of animals without a permit, but gives guidelines as to how the animals should be kept. Plus, the city's noise, odor, nuisance, and animal abuse guidelines will definitely apply to backyard Food-Producing Animals.

You can read the draft outline for a new ordinance by clicking going to and clicking on the "Animals" section. If you're interested, you can also click here to see a study conducted by DePaul University on the impact of allowing chickens in cities:

I know that neighborhood organizations are an important part of the city process. You are the voice for the residents of the [name of neighborhood] neighborhood. I ask you to get behind the proposed Food-Producing Animals ordinance, as way to promote sensible and sustainable policies for our cities.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I know Sustainable Food Denver ( is actively soliciting feedback from neighborhood organizations. They're also happy to come out and talk with your group about this issue, and answer any questions you may have.


[Your name]
[your address would be helpful, so they know you truly live in their neighborhood]

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