Eureka City Council to Talk Animals, Premium Pay for Grocery Workers

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A proposed animal ordinance in Eureka would require cat owners with more than four to get a fancier's license while dog owners would need to do the same with four or more dogs and reptile owners with more than 10. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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  • A proposed animal ordinance in Eureka would require cat owners with more than four to get a fancier's license while dog owners would need to do the same with four or more dogs and reptile owners with more than 10.
Tonight, the Eureka City Council is set to discuss an update to the city’s animal ordinance which includes some major changes to the number and type of animals — big and small — people can keep in city limits.

The council will also consider requiring certain grocery stores to pay workers a premium wage, something the Arcata City Council considered last month before deciding to spend more time researching the issue.

The animal ordinance before the Eureka council has been a “work in progress for the better part of five  years,” Eureka Police Department Capt. Brian Stephen said during a March 9 workshop on the proposed changes.

Most of the ordinance now on the books dates back to 1959, with some minor adjustments in the 1990s, and it was in need of an overhaul to “address outdated issues,” according to Eureka Animal Control Officer Celeste Villarreal, who went through an overview of the updates.

The new version, she said at the workshop, is aimed at promoting responsible animal ownership rather than the previous focus on animal containment.

Villarreal noted the language has been revised several times in response to public input, including expanding the poultry section to allow for a wider range of birds and tweaks to the exotic pet section that removed length restrictions on snakes and caps on the number of reptiles that could be owned.

But, having more than 10 means an owner needs to obtain a “fanciers” license, with similar requirements applied to cat (more than four) and dog (four or more) owners.

Any license fees would be waived for foster and service animals, Villarreal said.

Other changes include new licensing for mini pigs and goats, which are limited to two over the age of 4 weeks, as well as allowances for certain livestock, if a property can “reasonably accommodate the animals.”

For larger animals, such as a cow or horse, a property would need to be at least 21,000 square feet instead of the 30,000 square feet now on the books.

Read the full proposed ordinance at the end of the story.

In other business, the city council will consider enacting an emergency ordinance on a pay requirement for grocery workers, who were among those still on the frontlines during the last year as much of the rest of Humboldt County went on shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The draft ordinance included in the agenda would require a premium pay of an additional $4 at grocery stores that employ more than 500 workers nationally and more than 15 per store in the city of Eureka or an additional $3 per hour at stores with more than 25 employees but fewer than 500 workers in the city.

Under the draft, a grocery store is defined as “a retail store that is located within the geographic limits of the city, and that sells primarily household foodstuffs for offsite consumption, including the sale of fresh produce, meats, poultry, fish, deli products, dairy products, canned foods, dry foods, beverages, baked foods, or prepared foods.

Also include would be a “retail store of any kind located within the geographic limits of the city that devotes 15 percent or more of its interior space to the sale of household foodstuffs for offsite consumption, including the sale of fresh produce, meats, poultry, fish, deli products, dairy products, canned foods, dry foods, beverages, baked foods, or prepared foods.”

The city council will be discussing premium pay just hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state aims to reopen to pre-pandemic levels in mid-June, as long as hospitalizations and vaccine supplies remain stable. (Read more here.)

To view the full agenda and for more information on how to view the 6 p.m. meeting, click here.

Proposed Animal Ordinance Draft Premium Pay Ordinance

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