Friday, May 30, 2008

All Politics Is Local

Last week, someone stuffed a flier under my door. I found it half-crumpled in the front hall, and almost mistook it for yet another new neighborhood restaurant menu. It wasn't a menu; it was a notice of a meeting for the East Boston Land Use Council. Apparently one of my neighbors was housing homing/racing pigeons illegally on his property, and there was a meeting being held to discuss the issue.

I knew about the pigeons, I'd seen them plenty of times since I moved here, and I really like them. It's amazing to watch them fly around in their flock, as a seamless group, circling over the neighborhood. I didn't know that they are forbidden from being housed in my particular stretch of East Boston, but apparently this has to do with the area being demarcated as a Historical District.

Since I am in favor of the pigeons (being a pigeon afficianad0) I decided to attend the meeting. That was how I ended up in the gym of the East Boston Social Center last night, with thirty of so locals and three city council reps at 7:00.

The meeting was difficult to follow, because the information regarding the pigeons and their housing (the actual subject of the meeting) wasn't given chronologically. In essence, one neighbor, Ed C., has been keeping the pigeons for 10 or so years, and his neighbors of 4 years are fed up with his mis-care of the property which is lowering the value of their house (which they are trying to sell). I heard a well-rehearsed statement from the Irate Neighbors regarding the damage to their house from pigeons feces, and the annoyance caused by pigeons roosting on their deck and roof, as well as the noise from the sixty or so pigeons in the coop.

I did get up and mention that I liked the pigeons, and that really, I didn't think that Ed's birds were the cause of all the damage to the Irates' house. Their roof happens to be at a near 45-degree angle; pigeons prefer roosting at that angle, and most likely the damage was being caused by the wild pigeons. Only one other person stood up to agree with me, and he got a lot more attention and respect (after all, I was a newcomer).

In the end, the council voted 5-2 to recommend that the Housing Court (where the actual case will be held on June 10th) deny Ed's request for a permit to keep the pigeons. I spoke with a council rep afterward, and he told me that there's no way Ed will get to keep the pigeons. I'll miss them when they go.

While the meeting itself was a little unruly and hard to follow (and yes, at times, boring), I'd be tempted to go to another one, just to find out what's going on in the neighborhood. I've never been really involved in local politics (although in '04, I participated in the local caucuses and ran as an alternate delegate), and it would be interesting to join up and serve the community.

1 responses:

Vanessa said...

That's funny, I just wrote about pigeons on Wednesday. We've got some wild pigeons roosting in the eaves over our entrance. I didn't mind the two pigeons at first and actually thought it was kind of quirky that they were there. Now there are four, and it's a lot of poop to put up with. My room mates have almost had enough of it. Good news though, I think they're learning to fly (the young pigeon is spending a lot of time on the clothesline) so maybe they'll fly away and move downtown!

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