Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chesapeake Chickens and FOIA Request, Parts 1 and 2

I made a request for information under Virginia's Freedom of Information Act to the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, back in June. I asked for information regarding the number of complaints pertaining to chickens, the nature of the complaints, the location of the complaints, and whether they were found valid or not. I asked for information for the past two years through May.

Our group, 4 Chesapeake Hens, convinced Chesapeake's City Council to change local ordinances to allow up to six hens in backyards in single-family residential lots on November 20, 2012. The law was passed with a "sunset clause," which means that City Council will revisit the "hen issue" this fall and make a final decision whether to keep the law the same, to change it, or let it revert to its draconian past, where hens were only allowed in agricultural areas or on a few residential estates. Our group obviously wants to be allowed to keep our hens, so we requested data that we hoped would bolster our cause.

We also asked for data on dog and cat complaints during the same time period as a point of comparison. That data will not be available until August 7. For the convenience of having all the paperwork in one spot, we will publish our FOIA-related discoveries here on this page.

Page 1 original letter with our group's request and estimated costs

Page 2 of this letter explains the total cost of the information is over $500.00. We paid it.
The City sends chicken information and will send information on dogs and cats when available

This chart shows chicken and related complaints for the past two years

This chart attempts to summarize the information on the previous page
Our group is looking forward to studying this data in greater depth to see how we can best use it to our advantage in the coming months. So far it does NOT look like there have been a huge number of complaints or a huge increase in complaints regarding chickens, which is good news!

Part 2, Updated on 8/9/13:

Our group has received the second part of our request, which is information on complaints regarding dogs and cats within the same time period we are studying chickens. There were many more complaints, of course. We have had a chance to analyze the initial data, and the analysis is very favorable to the chickens. We plan to present it to City Council; it is available here. Here is the additional information which supports our analysis. All this information has cost our group a total of $467.32.

$526.40 minus $59.08 means all our FOIA documents cost us $467.32.

The estimate was higher, so our group got a $59.08 refund of our deposit for the info.

1 comment:

  1. Update: On November 26, 2013, Chesapeake City Council voted to make the "hen ordinance" permanent. The meeting may be viewed online: fast forward to 1:19 to see some great pro-chicken speeches and the City Council's reaction.