By EMILY ALPERT REYES
Los Angeles lawmakers voted Wednesday in favor of making backyard beekeeping legal in the city, part of a growing urban reaction to the dwindling honeybee population.
Beekeeping isn’t allowed in residential zones under existing city codes, according to planning officials. But the practice has grown among Angelenos concerned about the survival of honeybees. Scientists warn that shrinking populations of the pollinators — linked to pesticides, climate change and disease — could threaten apples, almonds and a host of other important crops.
“We want to enable this increasingly popular activity even while we preserve the rights of the city to address any complaints about poorly maintained hives,” Councilman Jose Huizar said Wednesday.
The L.A. City Council voted to direct city lawyers to finalize the wording of a new ordinance and bring it back for their approval.
Los Angeles is following in the footsteps of nearby Santa Monica, which legalized backyard beekeeping four years ago, as well as the cities of San Diego, Seattle and New York City…
“If a beehive is properly managed by the owner of the bees, there’s very little risk to anybody,” Mar Vista resident William Scheding said last week.
The proposed regulations would require Angelenos who keep bees at home to register with the county and place their hives a minimum distance from the edges of their property and nearby streets. The new rules would not affect commercial beekeeping, which is already allowed in agricultural and some industrial areas.
Only one hive would be allowed for every 2,500 square feet of a keeper’s property, which would enable two hives on the typical Los Angeles residential lot, according to the planning department.
Beekeepers would also have to install their hives high above the ground or erect a tall wall, hedge or fence to help usher bees at least six feet above the ground when they leave the area, “to minimize interactions between bees and individuals in the vicinity,” according to draft rules. And they would be required to provide a source of water for their bees, to discourage them from seeking out nearby swimming pools.
Establishing hives would not require permits, but the city could order beekeepers to remove their hives if violations of the regulations are found.
89.3 KPCC: “LA homeowners may soon have the right to own bees”
Los Angeles Daily News: “Backyard hives close to legal in Los Angeles despite ‘killer bee’ fears”
Christian Science Monitor: “Los Angeles buzzing over backyard beehives“