Councilmember Huizar, ushered in the new policy as the Chair of the City’s Planning & Land Use Management Committee –colleague Paul Koretz critical to support
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to approve the final language for an urban beekeeping ordinance to allow residential beekeeping in City of Los Angeles’ neighborhoods. Last month, the City Council voted to instruct the City Attorney to finalize the language for the urban beekeeping ordinance, which was vetted and shaped in the City’s Planning & Land Use Management Committee under the leadership of Councilmember Huizar.
“When beekeepers came to me two years ago, I was proud to lead the effort to legalize beekeeping,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “We are working to become a more sustainable City to confront the environmental crises of today, and bees, and beekeepers, are a part of the solution. It's time to support beekeeping in City of Los Angeles' residential neighborhooods, which will help our bee population and make the City safer and greener.”
The idea started as a 2012 motion introduced by former Councilmember Bill Rosendahl but languished for some time before beekeepers reached out to Huizar, and Koretz worked with local Neighborhood Councils to support.
“This arose, in part, from the neighborhood council system,” said Councilmember Koretz, who took up support of the motion when Bill Rosendahl termed out. “It started in Mar Vista, was vetted through the NCs -- over twenty neighborhood councils from throughout the city have sent in their support. Bees are dying worldwide -- in LA we're putting out the welcome mat. They are vital to our survival.”
A year and a half after the Council voted to begin the analysis and code amendment process, Wednesday’s ordinance legalizes beekeeping in residential areas while creating regulations and sensible restrictions, such as distance requirements from adjacent properties, maintaining proper water source, and limiting beehives to one for every 2,500 square-feet of backyard lot area. Front yard beekeeping is prohibited under the proposed ordinance.
“What started as a simple question, ‘Is beekeeping legal in Los Angeles?’ turned into a full blown, four-year grassroots movement through the council system and the creation of 501(c)3 non-profit HoneyLove.org,” said Rob and Chelsea McFarland, co-founders of HoneyLove.org. “What a tremendous learning experience! We are so grateful to our councilmembers and their staff who have helped this dream to become a reality.”
Bees are valuable, as a primary pollinator of key California crops such as almonds and oranges. Bees pollinate 80% of our flowering plants including 75% of our fruits, nuts and vegetables.
Due to the decline in bee populations, farmers in California are having to import bees from across the country and even from across the world. While legalizing backyard beekeeping won't solve that economic burden on our farmers, it can help. It can ensure that there’s a healthy local population in reserve, and it can further support the small-scale local agriculture that is starting to re-emerge in our area.
Urban areas are becoming an unlikely refuge for bees, who face an assortment of ecological stresses, like climate change, disease, and the overuse of pesticides.
Encouraging backyard beekeeping can help maintain healthy bee populations. In addition, it provides opportunities to re-locate natural colonies that inadvertently make their hives in troublesome places like attics or utility boxes. The result is a safer and environmentally responsible response to such bees that can replace extermination.