Fort Worth council unanimously backs limits on roosters

FORT WORTH -- To Josue Cardenas, roosters are a valued cultural and family icon.

To Tom McElroy, the birds are a nuisance and should be banned within the city limits.

The two Fort Worth residents represented the opposite sides in the debate in the Fort Worth City Council chambers Tuesday night.

A proposal to modify the city's existing code and limit to two the number of roosters that can be kept in areas zoned residential or multi-use was on the table, a compromise that essentially pleased no one.

In the end, the council voted unanimously, 9-0, to accept the compromise. Residents with more than two roosters will have six months before enforcement begins.

The ordinance also bans possession of cockfighting paraphernalia.

"This is one of those situations where council has to make a decision not only about the city we have now but the city we're going to have in the future -- about the quality of life of those who live here," Mayor Mike Moncrief said.

The chamber was packed for the discussion.

"I always knew I wanted to come back to Fort Worth," Cardenas said, regarding his plans after he completed university studies.

Roosters and birds have "been my culture for the past four generations," he said.

"That's why we chose to live here," as opposed to Arlington or Dallas, where roosters are banned, he said.

Noise, sanitation and cockfighting were the talking points of those who wanted an all-out ban.

"Our city is for raising children and families and not a place to raise [roosters] used in illegal activities," said McElroy, president of the Crestwood Neighborhood Association.

Several speakers said that state law already bans cockfighting and that the noise roosters make can't compare with the noise inherent in living in a metropolitan area.

Jose Cardenas asked why the city doesn't ban alcohol because of crimes associated with it, such as drunken driving. Another speaker said the same about guns, and yet another mentioned dogs.

District 9 Councilman Joel Burns and District 2 Councilman Sal Espino said a mechanism should be put in place to allow people who live in areas zoned residential but appear agricultural to apply for an exemption.

Anger over rankings

During the pre-council session, Moncrief said he took exception to a personal financial website's inclusion of two Fort Worth neighborhoods in recent crime rankings.

Last month, rated a neighborhood along East Lancaster Avenue as one of the most dangerous in the country, and on Monday it ranked a stretch along Camp Bowie Boulevard as one of the safest.

"It's a destructive mechanism, pitting one part of this city against another neighborhood," Moncrief said. "I don't appreciate it. I think we have the best Police Department in the United States.

"We want to know we are comfortable with who we are, we are comfortable with what we're doing, and all we're going to do is try all the harder to be the safest major city in the United States."