Clarification - The CURRENT Oakland Municipal Code

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, October 22, 2011 10:43 AM

To those who are opposed to allowing residents to raise livestock in Oakland, let me remind you that this practice IS CURRENTLY LEGAL under the existing Oakland Municipal Code of Ordinances. The current process of re-writing the Municipal Code is to regulate this practice in order to insure the proper care and treatment of livestock AND to insure that this practice doesn't adversely affect other residents. That’s right. Those of us who are raising livestock want MORE regulation, not less.

To quote one person who has commented about this on my blog:

"I seriously doubt that this plan will be voted on by the Oakland City Council.
Enough said."
If this revision to the existing code never makes it to the Oakland City Council, then everything will remain status quo and people can continue to raise livestock without any real oversight.

Since I raise goats, I thought it might be helpful for those who don’t bother to do the research if I highlighted the current regulations in place. Goats are mentioned in five sections of the current Oakland Municipal Code as detailed below.


8.16.010 – Definitions
  • “Dairy” means any place where one or more cows or goats are kept, a part or all of the milk or milk products of which are produced for distribution.
NOTE:  This chapter concerns the SALE of dairy products which is strictly controlled by the USDA and the FDA.  Again - FOR SALE. This is not a regulation against raising/milking for one's own consumption. No one is proposing that we want to start a USDA approved dairy in our backyards.

2) Title 8 HEALTH AND SAFETY – Chapter 8.14 MEAT

NOTE:   This chapter concerns the SALE of meat products which is strictly controlled by the USDA and the FDA.  Again - FOR SALE. This is not a regulation against raising/processing for one's own consumption. No one is proposing that we want to start a USDA/FDA approved slaughter house in our backyards.


6.04.02 – Definitions
  • Defines a goat as an “Animal”.
  • Defines “Animal quarters” as the premises and all buildings, hutches, pens, coops, yards, and their appurtenances used for the keeping of animals…
6.04.290 – Keeping certain animals in apartment house, hotel and business districts.
  •  It is unlawful for any person to raise, or keep, live chickens, ducks, geese or other fowl, or pigeons, rabbits, guinea pigs or goats, in an enclosure or yard on property occupied by an apartment house or hotel in a business district in the city, except when such fowl or animals are kept within a bona fide produce market, commission house or store for the purposes of trade and, while so kept, are confined in small coops, boxes or cages.
4) Chapter 15.08 OAKLAND BUILDING MAINTENANCE CODE – Article V Habitable Space

15.08.230 – Sanitation
Q. Vector control
  • Openings and Penetrations. Residential and non-residential buildings or structures used for the following activities or occupancies shall be constructed and maintained impervious to the ingress of insects, rodents, and other vector.
    • c. Raising or housing chickens, birds, poultry, horses, cows, sheep, goats, swine, or other fowl, animals, or domestic pets.
  • Foundations and foundation wills shall extend for the full perimeter of building or structure and shall be constructed of concrete or masonry.
5) Chapter 12.64 PARK AND RECREATION AREA USE REGULATIONS – Article I. Generally

12.64.05 – Animals

  • No person shall lead any horse in the limits of any public park in the city or permit any horse that is not harnessed and attached to a vehicle or mounted by an equestrian, to enter the same, and no person shall turn loose into said parks any dogs, cattle, swine, goats or other animals, or permit the same to run at large in such parks, and police officers and park employees are given authority to capture and destroy any cats found running at large within said parks.

8 Response to "Clarification - The CURRENT Oakland Municipal Code"

Anonymous Says:

I am fully aware of everything you posted as I have done the research. The City of Oakland needs to put forth a code, like the one Larry Reid (Oakland City Council) put forth and proposed in 2004. which said no sheep, goats, pigs, etc .you can find this info in the City records or you can google it on the Internet.I have already brought this up with you in my previous comments. Many of us residents(and I would bet money it is the majority) want NO LIVESTOCK in our backyards, nor home slaughter, in Oakland just like many other reasonable congested cities all over the United States. We are not happy that you urban farmers are taking advantage of the fact that our codes are not in place. Berkeley, San Francisco have these reasonable restrictions in place.(Berkeley.2 female goats only) And I am truly amazed that you think you should be able to do backyard slaughter without the FDA/USDA involved. Do we need to wait until some unsuspecting/untrained adult indulges in this practice only to poisen/kill their own family members or friends who have been invited to dine with them? Remember, you are dealing with a wide variance here when it comes to know-how in Oakland. YES. WE WANT THIS REGULATED. When it comes to the goat issue, all of you are lying when you say you don't pass out or barter all the milk products to others outside your own household.It's a game of catch me if you can. And then you have to keep breeding them to get the milk, toss the males into the slaughter bin because they don't serve your purpose. Sell the extra goats because you will have too many to care for which is a commercial activity which is prohibited in residential zones. Let's talk about the facts.

Kitty Sharkey Says:

“Let's talk about the facts”

Yes, indeed. Let’s talk about the “facts” you bring up here.

“The City of Oakland needs to put forth a code, like the one Larry Reid (Oakland City Council) put forth and proposed in 2004 which said no sheep, goats, pigs, etc .”

Put forth is not the same as passing and becoming law. This proposal did not pass in 2004. Why? I don’t know. I wasn’t a resident in Oakland in 2004, so I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps it was because the public didn’t want additional regulations taking away their right to feed themselves?

I truly doubt if it the same proposal were brought up for a vote today it would pass either. Eating locally is a much more established idea today than it was back then. You might want to check out this article posted today concerning the growth of CSA’s.

The short video linked to in this article is pretty amazing.

“And I am truly amazed that you think you should be able to do backyard slaughter without the FDA/USDA involved. Do we need to wait until some unsuspecting/untrained adult indulges in this practice only to poisen/kill their own family members or friends who have been invited to dine with them?”

The FDA/USDA does not need to be involved in the processing of any meat that is NOT FOR SALE. They only have jurisdiction over production for sale. Period. That’s the law. No one has ever gotten sick off of any food that I’ve prepared here at my homestead, nor from any of the homesteaders that I know here in the Bay Area. I wish the same could be said for products coming out of our industrialized food system which IS regulated by the FDA/USDA. In case you haven’t looked at it lately, you may want to check out the USDA food recall page.

So far in October, there have been SIX RECALLS. And the month isn’t even over yet. Turkey breast (misbranding and undeclared allergen), Read-To-Eat Beef, Pork (Produced without Inspection), Frozen Chicken and Steak Fajita Products (misbranding), Center Cut Steaks (misbranding and undeclared allergen), Ground Beef Products (E. Coli), and Chef Salad Containing Meat and Poultry (Salmonella).

Seven recalls in September. Seven recalls in August. Seven recalls in July. Is it just me, or do you see a pattern here. E. Coli, Salmonella, Listeria… the list goes on and on. It is government regulated and inspected CAFO’s that are poisoning and killing our family and friends. It’s our regulated, inspected, sanctioned, industrialized food system and their practices of overcrowding and overmedicating that is causing the deaths. Not people raising their own meat for their own consumption.

I know how my meat chickens and rabbits are raised. I know what they eat. I know they aren’t overcrowded and drugged. And I know my own sanitary slaughter and milking practices. None of my animals are diseased. How do I know? Because I draw blood and send it to a lab to get it tested. None of my goats have ever had mastitis. How do I know? Because I test for mastitis once a month during my goats lactation cycle.

None of my eggs have salmonella. How do I know? Because when an egg is laid it has a protective membrane on it. I don’t wash my eggs before storing them. Doing so removes that membrane and exposes the egg to infection. I eat them when they are FRESH.

Do you know that industrial egg producers have 30 days from the time an egg is laid to get it to the market, and once at your local grocery store, the store has another 30 days to sell it? Yes! That sell by date on the carton is a full 60 days after the egg was laid. And you have no idea whether it was handled correctly from CAFO to store. Was it refrigerated correctly at all times? How many times was it repackaged (average is six)? Each repackaging involves handling and increases the potential for infection.

Kitty Sharkey Says:

“When it comes to the goat issue, all of you are lying when you say you don't pass out or barter all the milk products to others outside your own household. It's a game of catch me if you can. “

A few goat owners do operate herd share programs. They do so openly and don’t try to hide it. And there are contracts involved as well. Myself? I don’t offer a milk share. I chose a breed and herd size appropriate to meet my needs. I don’t have any excess. And the bulk of the goat owners I know are in the same position. Actually, now that I think of it, out of the 30 or so goat owners I know of in the East Bay, only two are operating a herd share programs.

“And then you have to keep breeding them to get the milk, toss the males into the slaughter bin because they don't serve your purpose. Sell the extra goats because you will have too many to care for which is a commercial activity which is prohibited in residential zones.”

Yes, we do breed in order to get milk. And a few (only two that I know of) do raise any male offspring for meat. The males are castrated between 6 – 8 weeks of age. Most owners also disbud the kids to prevent them from growing horns as this is safer, not only for people, but for the goats themselves.

Personally, I have never had an issue selling my kids. All have gone to very good homes and farms. I know because I interview the people, often visit their homes, and make sure they really know what they are getting into. I didn’t get into goats to be a breeder and make money off the kids. All proceeds from the sale of my kids are donated to Heifer International. The company I work for has a matching gift program, so my donation is doubled. Last year I sold 3 kids and was able to donate the equivalent of 9 goats and a flock of chickens. Heifer is an amazing charity that operates world wide teaching people how to raise livestock and live sustainable lives. You might want to check them out. I suggest you make a donation at their website. It truly is the greatest gift you can give.

“Commercial activity is not prohibited in residential zones.”

Actually, it’s not. There’s a little thing called a Home Occupation Permit. This permit allows a person to conduct a business from their residence. You should look into it.

Any other “facts” you’d like to discuss?

Anonymous Says:

The problem with you Kitty, is it's all about "I" "I do this right..I do that right" Oakland is more than about how you do things.
If this goes to the city council, you will get an earful then.

You sell your I said, when people are living in zones where this is NOT permitted, then it it ILLEGAL.
Everything you talk about is about how YOU do it. My concern and many reasonable people in Oakland are concerned about the GOOD of the WHOLE.
Interesting that you didn't live here in 2004. Did you move here so you could have a farm in our City?
Maybe you could have a meeting with Larry Reid and check out what his thinking was in 2004.
And I know what a home occupation business is about and it does not include operating a business outside your house and selling goats is commercial activity. Maybe YOU should check it out.
It's so wonderful that you can use "charity work" to enable an end for your own means. You have no idea what my greatest gift to give is...I don't need your suggestions.

Kitty Sharkey Says:

Oh and here is a statistic to back up MY facts directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC - 2011 Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the United States

“After combining the estimates for the major known pathogens and the unspecified agents, the overall annual estimate of the total burden of disease due to contaminated food consumed in the United States is 47.8 million illnesses, 127,839 hospitalizations, and 3,037 deaths.”

Did you read that correctly? 47.8 MILLION ILLNESSES and 3,037 DEATHS! That equates to 1 in 6 Americans getting sick because of our USDA/FDA regulated and (*cough*) inspected industrialized food system. And you wonder why I want to raise my own meat, dairy, and produce? If I get sick, it’s of my own making. I haven’t, and won’t because I know and trust my own sanitary practices.

It makes me wonder how the contribution I have to make monthly for my own health care benefits is impacted due to these 127,839 hospitalizations a year. Geez! Maybe if MORE people would grow their own food, buy locally from small farms, and eat healthier meat, dairy, and produce, we might be able to control a small piece of our skyrocketing costs for health insurance. Not that’s a thought!

Anonymous Says:

I totally get/understand what you are saying about credible food sources. The answer is not to have livestock and slaughter in our Oakland backyards. There have got to be better solutions for our meat sources.
I'm sure we all will be hearing about other ideas.
This is a contentious subject, as even Aaron Angstadt said at the July meeting.
We need to find solutions that benefit the Good of the WHOLE.
Please, everyone, use your imagination as to where this idea could spin off to.
Consider the risks involved.

Kitty Sharkey Says:

Yes, as a matter of fact, it IS all about me. This is MY blog where I write about MY homestead, MY practices, MY thoughts, and MY choices. This website is 100% ALL ABOUT ME.

Everything I do here on my homestead is legal. And I don’t try to hide it either. I’ve had animal control, vector control, and the city planning department out to my homestead. And everything they saw not only met with their approval, but came with compliments. I am very proud of the way I have chosen to live my life. And my blog is one way for me to share that publicly. It might even give others ideas of how to improve their own practices. Ever hear of teaching by example? I could just as easily live quietly behind my garden gate without anyone having a clue as to what was behind it. I’d be willing to bet dimes to donuts that there are people within your own neighborhood doing just that.

I don’t write about other peoples practices. If you’d like to read about them, then I suggest you visit their blogs where they write about their own homesteads, practices, thoughts, and choices.

And there IS a good solution for meat sources, or would be if it were more affordable. It’s called buying from local sustainable farmers who raise their animals on pasture. Some, like Marin Sun Farms, even have CSA’s or a local butcher shop so you don’t have to travel hours away into the countryside to their farms. The problem is that for most people, myself included, this isn’t a viable option because of the price of this meat. I can raise an entire litter of rabbits for what it would cost me to purchase one broiler rabbit at the Marin Sun Farms butcher shop at Rockridge Market Hall. Our current government regulations force the price of this quality unadulterated meat to be sky high. And all the while, our current government regulations are subsidizing CAFO’s. Sadly, this means that the bulk of the population has no other choice but to buy CAFO meat if they want to include meat in their diet.

Moving out to the country and living on a farm isn’t an answer either. It is impossible to find reasonably priced farmland which is close enough in to allow a person to still have a full time job. I can barely afford to live in Oakland.

And just a little side note: In 2004 I lived across the bay in San Francisco. I did not move to Oakland in order to farm here. I moved here because it was the only place I could afford to buy a home. It was a foreclosed home with a completely rotted out wall on one side of it and a garage that should have been condemned as a hazard. The only good thing about the burst in the housing market and the whole sub-prime fiasco is that it allowed some people like me to actually be able to afford homeownership in the Bay Area. And the only thing I DON’T like about my neighborhood is when small children are gunned down three blocks away from here in gang violence crossfire. Does a three year old kid really need to die that way? I wish his mom had brought him over here to play with the goats that day instead. I’m sure they both would have enjoyed themselves one hell of a lot more!

It’s a shame that our conversation which started out so cordially broke down into a very confrontational discussion. I don’t like slinging mud or making threats. It’s not my way. I do like being factual and naming / linking to my sources. I’m a pretty peaceful, fun loving, person who actually does care about her fellow man and puts her very very small amount of disposable income right where her mouth is, both literally and figuratively.

It’s a beautiful day outside and I’m home from work today because I took a fall yesterday and my back is really hurting me. One government program I’m thankful for is FMLA. Without it, I would have lost everything including my home while out for 8-1/2 months on disability and spinal surgery. I think I’m going to take advantage of it and walk away from my computer now in order to go spend some time with my happy and healthy critters in the barnyard.

Or as they say in my neighborhood - Chau

Anonymous Says:

chickens are one thing, livestock and home slaughtering is yet another.
Your blog is about you and from what you have shared you have been very responsible and industrious. You would not have been able to do what you have done in Oakland had you been living in San Francisco.
My point is that the best interest for the good of the whole is what is at stake here in Oakland. Every Oakland resident has a right to be informed about these meetings and this process and that is NOT happening.The majority is not involved in this process because they have been left out due to a lack of information on the part of the City of Oakland city planners.Apparently their budget cannot afford it. The city of Oakland has the money to inform us to vote to raise our property taxes.Maybe they could have had a BTW: we are moving forward with allowing livestock/home slaughter in Oakland backyards and here is how you can be involved. Their lack of Informing is inexcusable.
I have learned something from your viewpoints and I hope you have learned something from my viewpoints even if we do not agree on where this activity should/needs be taking place.