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Chicken fight ends with Zippy, Gray and Bonk victorious


Published: November 28, 2008

A RUCKUS in Pacific Grove over hens has been resolved: The chickens are allowed to roost.

The P.G. City Council voted Nov. 19 to permit two homeowners to continue to keep chickens on their property as pets despite neighbor complaints they attract flies, are noisy and could harbor disease.

The owners say that’s all a bunch of hen feathers.

“I love chickens,” said Olga Perry, one of the chicken keepers who lives on Companion Way. “They are smarter than my cats.”

The debate over the birds began in September after police received a complaint from Ripple Avenue resident David Polden. Subsequently, the city’s animal control officer informed Perry and another chicken-keeping family — Gil Falcone and Cristina Amarillas, who live on Del Monte Boulevard — that their chickens were illegal.

“I didn’t know I had to have a permit,” said Perry, who acquired the birds in August.

After the chicken owners received over-the-counter permits to keep the poultry, Polden filed an Oct. 29 appeal, citing several concerns.

“I’m worried about the loss of value of my property,” Polden wrote to the city council, “as well as that of everyone living in the town.”

Polden also wrote he was concerned about bird flu. “While we have had no cases in our area yet,” Polden wrote, “nothing I’ve read has led me to believe this disease won’t spread at some point in the future.”

Neighbors and friends of Perry sent city manager Jim Colangelo notes of support for Perry’s hens, named Zippy, Gray and Bonk. “The chickens give our city special appearance, we love them!” a neighbor of Perry’s wrote. “There is no noise, smell or flies around Olga’s house.”

“The hens are not to blame for any loss of property value,” another neighbor said.

Ultimately, council members agreed, finding that the chickens would not create a property-value issue, or be a threat to health and safety. Councilman Scott Miller dissented and councilwoman Lisa Bennett was absent.

Perry, who is from Moscow, Russia, said she purchased the hens and a rooster after learning that Falcone and Amarillas had chickens at their house. (She gave the rooster away because of its noisy wake-up call.)

Perry said it took the city’s animal control officer two weeks after fielding Polden’s complaint to find out where the hens lived.

“That proves how quiet they are,” Perry said.

Perry uses the hens’ waste to fertilize her organic garden which includes garlic, parsley, cilantro, lemons and grapefruit. She expects the birds will start producing eggs soon.

While Perry eats the eggs her hens produce, she doesn’t include chicken in her diet. “I like to eat fish,” she said.

Even Perry’s cats don’t mind the hens, she explained.

“They are always together.”