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Chatsworth : Ostrich Farm Told to Cut Back Birds

An ostrich farm in the middle of a posh Chatsworth neighborhood has been ordered to remove 605 of its 800 birds after neighbors complained of a stench “like rancid mutton fat” and other environmental concerns.

The farm’s owner, David Mohile, is appealing the decision.

After hearing copious testimony July 11 about flying feathers, allergy problems and unpleasant odors coming from Danielle Michelle Farms, city Assistant Zoning Administrator Daniel Green imposed several conditions on the compound in Monteria Estates, including limiting the number of ostriches and emus to 195.

“We’re not trying to put him out of business or make him miserable or make him move, we’re just trying to remove the nuisance,” Green said of his decision.

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In addition to limiting the number of the flightless birds that could be kept at the farm, Green ruled that bird feces must be removed from the premises daily and that the farm provide evidence to city zoning administrator that it is complying with the conditions.

In his appeal, Mohile’s attorney, Jay Bulmash of Seal Beach, disputes many of the findings that the birds are bothering neighbors. He also claims the hearing procedure was flawed because he was unable to subpoena witnesses for the July 11 hearing, and that proper notice was not given prior to that hearing.

Additionally, he claims, the farm shouldn’t even be subject to city nuisance laws, as such regulations apply only to commercial and industrial properties, and the farm is neither.

“It’s a non-commercial research project,” he said in an interview, and the complaints by neighbors have been “politically motivated and also motivated by the desire to increase property values.”

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The case will go before the Board of Zoning Appeals within 75 days and could then be appealed to the Los Angeles City Council, the mayor’s office and civil courts.

“My client is definitely willing to take it that far,” Bulmash said.


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