Berkeley is a “Goat Friendly” Community

I knew that Berkeley is a nuclear free zone but I have just learned that it is “goat friendly”.   I live in Berkeley a few weeks each year and I often hear chickens clucking in some backyards.  To a guy from NYC that is funky stuff.   “Dairy goats are becoming the next frontier for some urbanites eager to produce their own food. Although the animals are illegal in many cities, including New York, Ms. Kooy unearthed a San Francisco health department clause that allows two goats per household, and aspiring goat-keepers in Portland, Ore., and Berkeley, Calif., have been thrilled to discover similar goat-friendly ordinances. In other cities, enthusiasts are lobbying for more-lenient regulations.”  Will Westwood be the next domino in this chain?

Now, as you know, I’m the Director of Research at the UCLA Ziman Real Estate Center .  After reading the goat article, I have decided that we should focus on this topical research question;  “Other neighbors worried that the goats might affect their property values.”    If you’d like to join my goat resesarch team, please contact me.    All jokes aside, this is an interesting local externality issue.  Are you a good neighbor?

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

25 thoughts on “Berkeley is a “Goat Friendly” Community”

  1. When I was a kid, I could hear goat or sheep calls from my parent’s house in Oakland. On very, very quiet days at least.

  2. Why oh why does “being a good neighbor” equate so quickly to “protecting property values?” I like to think that a sense of community has more profound features than whether your neighbors and neighborhood are doing everything in their power to maximize property values. I go past some of the nicest most expensive houses in my neighborhood and I have literally never seen the people who live there — are they “good neighbors” to me?

  3. They cut the grass without using gasoline and while generating usable milk, feces and, eventually, meat. While my yard’s way too small to support a goat on its own, if anyone in Long Beach, CA wants to start a goat-driven yard service, I’ll be a customer.

  4. I have to admit that while I love the “idea” of this, living next door to someone with a rooster (as I’ve done in VA and in Los Angeles) is actually quite annoying, as it is really loud in the morning. Living in Oklahoma, my neighbor kept a couple of dwarf goats in the backyard to keep the weeds down. They would jump the fence and poop on my front porch. In theory, I love it. In practice, I’ve found it is actually a bit unpleasant.

  5. Denver uses goats to keep down some native vegetation in certain parks, and I fondly remember standing 30 ft above a flock of sheep several times a year as they grazed the turf of the airfield where I worked. Nothing like 200 jaws chewing at the same time. Nonetheless, I suspect the urban chicken issue is more germane and there should be literally scores of cities with recent cases. And more people keep chickens than goats.

  6. I can’t speak from experience with goats, but chickens don’t belong in cities. It is one thing if you as the animal caretaker can restrict it to your own property (good luck)! But when they are running around, ruining the vegetation, leaving eggs all over the place, and crapping up a storm, who needs it. And of course, where there are chickens, some enterprising soul will decide to bring roosters into the picture. In my neighborhood the good neighbor was the one who shot the GD roosters!

    I am not sure how enthused i would be with goats nearby. If I didn’t have to see or hear them, and they didn’t stink up the place too bad I would probably look the other way; occasionally rolling my eyes and wondering what’s next.

  7. Our subdivision was originally farmland so was zoned for livestock. As it grew the zoning never changed. So we have chickens, goats, minature ponies, pigs and turkeys. As a result we have a large population of foxes, bears, as well as deer. All on our little 3/4 acre plots.
    The subdivision is considered a great place to raise children as well as elder friendly. I also know which neighbors to go to if I need milk or eggs.

  8. In Portland, where I live, you can keep up to three chickens, which must be confined to your yard at all times. Roosters are not allowed.

    It doesn’t seem to be much of a problem here.

    If smell is the chief concern, outdoor dogs and cats, being carnivores, are a much bigger problem than goats. I’d take a goat pooping in my yard over a dog any day. As far as I can tell, nearly every city allows cats and dogs. The biggest problem people seem to have with goats is that goats are smart and nimble and it takes some work to keep them confined to where you want them to be.

  9. Hey, in SF, I have a neighbor with chickens (no Roosters), nicely kept in a coop.
    See the goats every year eating weeds on various hills too.

  10. do you think living in close proximity (constantly tracking poop) will give a family an immunity to an Asian Bird type flu?
    Or will it be an access vector for the flu?

  11. Here in Arlington VA the rules are: you can keep chickens anywhere more than 100 feet from your property line. There is one five acre place out on Wilson Boulevard, they could, but as far as I know, they don’t. There was a big struggle over some goats couple years ago, and they went.

  12. The 100-ft-from-your-property-line rule would effectively outlaw keeping chickens in Portland since a large majority of single-family-dwelling residential neighborhoods in Portland consist of collections of houses on 50x100ft lots.

  13. I am especially worried about dogs, which bark. Once research shows that they reduce neighboring property values….

  14. Up in Tilden Park (above Berkeley) I saw a worker clearing brush from a hillside using goats. In my rusty Spanish, I’m pretty sure I asked him what was eating the goats, but instead of answering “la chupacabra” he gamely answered “yerbas malas”.

    Incidentally, if you search for “I’m on a goat” on YouTube, you will find upwards of 20 music videos with that title.

  15. RiokG, what nonsense. In Raleigh a city of 500,000 we’ve always allowed any number of hens, no roosters. Since before Portland or any other chicken-trendy city was even a settlement, I might add.

    Goats, on the other hand, they will climb all over everyone’s car roofs and patio furniture, and eat all your shrubs — even the sticker-bushes — down to little nubs.

  16. My deed says I can’t have pigs (nor operate a tannery). Wonder if I could have goats? The neighbor’s cats poop on my lawn already, so what’s the difference?

  17. My deed says I can’t have pigs (nor operate a tannery).

    Bah! Are you going to bow down to the islamofascists like that? Every Real American in your subdivision ought to get pigs, just to show those damn liberals that you won’t live under their sharia.

  18. I’d be charmed as hell by my neighbors’ goats, although I’m not sure an urban backyard is the kindest place to keep one. It’s the commercial/subsistence aspect that bothers me. A milking goat needs to be kept pregnant (unless they’ve done some wizardry with hormones I don’t know about), and that means kids, and kids mean excess goats in a very short period of time. And the charming goat that nibbles my fingers through the fence becomes a sort of daily reminder of impending horror if I know my neighbor intends to slaughter the goat when it reaches the point in the curve when the meat is worth more to him than the milk.

    It’s not the idea of harvesting eggs or milk from a “pet” that bothers me, exactly, and even though I don’t eat meat myself, I don’t try to stop other people from doing so. But to be perfectly honest, if an up-or-down vote on banning residential goats were the only way I had to keep from imagining the axe from falling on the goat next door, I’d probably vote for the ban. Of all the arbitrary rules society makes, the one that says “these animals are food animals, and these animals are pets, and here’s what that distinction means in terms of how we treat them” is one of the more successful ones, I’d say. I don’t want to harsh anyone’s buzz, but I’d get over it.

  19. Am I a good neighbor?
    Am I a good neighbor?
    State Farm is my middle name and you have the nerve to ask if I’m a good neighbor?

    A better question is whether you’re a good neighbor!!!

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