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'Goldenrod 6' will have to cluck elsewhere

City Council recommends that current law against keeping chickens in residential areas should be upheld in the dispute involving the Corona del Mar hens.

February 14, 2012|By Mike Reicher

Two Corona del Mar neighbors can end their flap now that the City Council decided to keep chickens out of most residential neighborhoods.

The "Goldenrod 6" have to go.

The hens attracted widespread publicity in recent months when the city asked their owner to remove them from quaint Goldenrod Avenue in December. In response, people lined up on either side of the fence — literally. At least one neighbor to the hens found them offensive, while others thought they were charming.

At a study session Tuesday, the City Council agreed with city staff members who recommended that the current law be upheld. It only allows hens in the area around Santa Ana Heights and limits them to homes with 15,000-square-foot lots.

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Corona del Mar lots are closer to 3,500 square feet.

"It's about whether we're going to let barnyard animals in neighborhoods that are not equipped for them," said Councilman Keith Curry. "And in my judgment, Corona del Mar is not a neighborhood that is well-equipped for barnyard animals."

The birds' owner, Michael Resk, made an entreaty that was half amusing — he didn't mean to ruffle feathers — and half agonizing. He spoke of "unconscionable malice," referring to his allegation that his neighbor tried to poison the birds.

That neighbor, Maggie McFarland, made her own plea to the council. She said she originally liked the birds, but turned feather when they began to wake her and her young daughter.

She described hawks that were stalking the fowl, vermin droppings and a "dairy smell."

"There really is no quiet enjoyment," she said.

Mayor Nancy Gardner, who lives a few blocks away, said she once thought of raising chickens, but then realized they were against the city code. Although she originally asked the council to consider changing the law, Gardner said a resident convinced her that it would be unfair.

People expect dogs and cats when they move to most Newport Beach neighborhoods, she said, but not chickens.

Now Resk has about 14 days to remove the birds. He said the owner of the Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery was willing to take them.

"They brought me a lot of joy and they taught me a lot of lessons," Resk said after the meeting.

Resk wants to move out of state — to Dallas, possibly — because McFarland bothered him so much. Before then, he is planning a farewell party for the hens on Feb. 24 or 25.

mike.reicher@latimes.com

Twitter: @mreicher

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