Victory! Santa Monica Legalizes Beekeeping
Following in the footsteps of cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle — and after receiving nearly 200 signatures each from Change.org members — the Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously to legalize beekeeping. The very night the legislation passed I received an email from Councilmember Kevin McKeown asking me to please call off the Change.org dogs, so you can bet we all had a hand in pushing this law forward!
The new ordinance allows up to two hives on residential property as long as keepers register with Animal Control and meet modest hive placement, screening, and management requirements. Hives must be kept five feet from a property line, be provided a water source, and have a six-foot screen, fence, or some kind of vegetation to make sure the bees fly up before they fly out. Otherwise, the hive can be kept eight feet up without a screen.
In addition, the city now has a policy of exterminating swarms only as a last resort. Previously, the city had an automatic extermination policy regarding feral bees. Under the new legislation, these renegade bees will be captured and relocated to an apiary in either Ventura or the San Fernando Valley. Only if this is impossible will swarms be exterminated.
The new ordinance spells out just how important bees are to society, noting that they provide pollination services vital to up to 30 percent of our food. They also recognize that bee populations have been in trouble for the last 50 years, and that their populations have declined by 50 percent. Because of Colony Collapse Disorder, some beekeepers have noticed their hives dwindling by 30 to 90 percent since 2006. Legalizing beekeeping in Santa Monica will not only boost local food security, it will help conserve beleaguered honeybees.
While Santa Monica joined a growing number of locales that let residents keep bees legally, several cities still ban the practice. Los Angeles is one of them. As the victory in Santa Monica showed, our pressure can make a difference on local lawmakers. Sign our petition asking the Los Angeles City Council to legalize beekeeping in all parts of the city.