Well, it’s gotten personal now.
I received my notices from the city today via certified mail. The first one I expected–the lot, the CUP, the vegetables and the animals. No problem! I understand that one, I’ve gnawed it to death, so much, it actually makes sense to me. I’ll pay the city to keep my animals. I’ll get a business license to sell vegetables. That’s fine.
Problem was, there was another, surprising notice. It too says “Notice to Abate”, but it lists my home address, my landlord’s name and his address. The list of violations are: “Conducting a Crop and Animal Raising Activity without benefit of Zoning approvals. That’s OMC/OPC codes 17.20.030 and 17.20.040. When I looked up the code, it says there are permitted residential activities, and then there are the conditionally use permitted activities which include:
Agricultural and Extractive Activities:
Crop and Animal Raising
Now, I live in a duplex with a backyard, it says it’s zone R36. I called the zoning department and they told me R36 refers to mostly historical houses in the flatlands (which, btw, have the highest incidence of food insecurity). I’ve always thought I could legally keep chickens, rabbits, goats, ducks, and bees in a residential area without a conditional use permit. Note that I never sell eggs, poultry, goat milk/products, rabbits, or ducks–they are for home consumption. If I’m being told that this fundamental right to grow my own food isn’t legal, than I might just have to set myself on fire.
The Notice to Abate has no other comments on it, except that if I take “substandard action” it might result in me having to “vacate the premises should conditions warrant.” It isn’t even clear why I’m being cited, or what behavior I’m supposed to change.
City of Oakland: You are playing with people’s lives. This could really fuck up my life. I could get evicted, for example. I might have to get rid of my animals. All because one guy came to my house, took photos, and decided that I wasn’t in compliance with some confusing code that is supposedly changing anyway. I still don’t even know what I’m supposed to do to fix the problem.
Why is Oakland after me? Why am I being targeted? For those of you who want to shake a finger at me and tell me that I should’ve known better, I hope the City comes after you for some random, never enforced law that you didn’t know existed. Actually, I take that back, I wouldn’t wish this Kafka-esque nightmare on my worst enemy.
This issue is about the control of the food system. Whoever can grow their food at their residence holds some power, some control. And now that Oakland is trying to take that right away from me, I am feeling helpless, scared, and I can’t stop crying imagining my dear sweet milk goats going to live somewhere else, my chickens taken off to some other place, or my rabbits scattered to the wind. I am powerless, but at least I have this blog; and at least I know there are people all across the country fighting for our food sovereignty.