Long live the Mission City chickens

 

While the nation tackles Saddam Hussein and the possibility of
war with Iraq, while the state battles a massive budget deficit and
looming cuts in services and education, San Juan Bautista ponders
what to do about its free-roaming chickens.
While the nation tackles Saddam Hussein and the possibility of war with Iraq, while the state battles a massive budget deficit and looming cuts in services and education, San Juan Bautista ponders what to do about its free-roaming chickens.

And while there is no question that the range of importance of these issues is obvious, there’s more to the chickens once the topsoil is scratched away.

It’s about the historic city’s struggle with its place in San Benito County and the region.

During a town hall meeting, some residents raised concerns about the growing chicken population. One resident counted nearly 130 chickens at one intersection.

By allowing the chickens to roam the streets of the Mission City, a city ordinance that states chickens must be kept in pens is being broken. Residents told officials to either enforce the ordinance or rewrite it.

They’ve had enough with the birds – the numbers, the noise they make during the early morning hours, the possible health concerns the chickens may cause and the possibility of a lawsuit.

All valid concerns, and officials are acting to thin the population. They have implemented a plan to capture some of the chickens and adopt them out. If you are interested in adopting one or more of the chickens, call City Manager Larry Cain at 623-4661.

But for now, for San Juan Bautista, for all of us in San Benito County, we say “Long live the chickens.”

San Juan Bautista is built on its past. History abounds in the city, from the Mission to all the historic buildings around downtown to the Castro-Breen Adobe to the antique shops that line Third Street.

San Juan Bautista’s economy is built on its past. Tourists visit to take in its history. And they spend money, browsing the variety of shops and eating at the variety of restaurants – one of which even has chickens roaming its patio area.

And while San Juan Bautista offers a glimpse at the state’s past, the chickens, for now, are a part of that. They bring charm and a certain ambiance to the Mission City found nowhere in the area. Without them, a certain aspect, a certain flavor of San Juan would be missing.

The city isn’t downtown Milpitas or downtown Santa Clara. San Juan doesn’t claim to be and it doesn’t want to be.

The Chamber of Commerce even has a chicken on its official T-shirt. The city is proud of its chickens and we should be too.

People move to San Juan for a certain quality of life, and when the future eventually encroaches too much on the city, it will be time for the chickens to move on – but not now.

San Juan, with all its history, with all its restaurants and antiques, is a unique place. And the chickens are a part of all that makes the Mission City a place to visit and live.

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