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Chicken controversy is a semantics mix-up, owner says

City has ordered Corona del Mar home's six chickens to be removed, though owner says they're largely ornamental.

December 28, 2011|By Lauren Williams
  • The Goldenrod Avenue chickens are loved by neighbors,young and old. Their owner says having them shouldn't be in violation of city ordinances because they aren't used for meat or eggs.
The Goldenrod Avenue chickens are loved by neighbors,young… (Daily Pilot )

CORONA DEL MAR — As Michael Resk moves around his Spanish-style home, small bobbing heads mirror his actions, following him to the front gate, backyard and alley.

The chickens make it clear that he rules the roost.

When he walks around his Goldenrod Avenue yard, he's occasionally followed by the six members of his feathered flock — nicknamed the Goldenrod 6 — as they cluck, peck at the grass and dig holes in search of bugs.

Resk has owned the chickens for 16 months, but he ran afoul of city ordinances that prohibit owning poultry in Corona del Mar. But it's all a mix-up of semantics, Resk says, because his birds aren't for meat or eggs; they're largely ornamental.

His chickens — Red, Blackie, Flaty, Tiny, Blondie and Whitey — are the manifestation of an idea he had while sitting in his yard thinking they would be a nice decorative addition. But after a neighbor complained to the city, Resk was given two weeks to remove the birds. That was one and a half weeks ago.

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Newport Beach's law, enacted in 1970, prohibits owning any animal commonly considered livestock within city limits, with a few exceptions in permitted areas.

Resk said he is prepared to pay some fines.

Though for some residents, Resk and the Goldenrod 6 have become a local fixture for neighbors on a run, nannies and their children, and passersby. Many enjoy visiting "the Ladies."

Susan Jent, a nanny who was watching over young girls Matea and Madalyn on Wednesday afternoon, said they often come by to see the birds.

"We always walk past here and look for the roosters and the chickens," Jent said, as the girls stood along the fence greeting the chickens. "It's the highlight of the walk."

Lorenza Robbins said her 4-year-old autistic daughter, Summer, visits the chickens daily, feeds them and dances with them during her routine visit.

For Summer, whose condition makes communication difficult, one of her first words was "chicken," her mother said.

"[She] just lights up when she sees the chickens," Robbins said. "She loves them. For some reason, she connects with them."

Resk doesn't own roosters, although a few of the birds are burlier than others.

He is one of many Orange County residents flocking to the practice of raising chickens, according to Margaret Millspaugh, owner of Wagon Train Feed & Tack in Orange. She's also known to many as the "Chicken Lady of Orange County."

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