Antioch Council passes controversial ordinance banning feral cat feeding
By John Crowder
Once again, the debate over the feeding of feral cats on public property was a highlight of an Antioch City Council meeting. Following extended comments by citizens and representatives of organizations on both sides of the issue, at the Tuesday, April 8 meeting, the Council voted 4-1, with Councilman Tiscareno against, to pass an ordinance banning the feeding of feral cats on public property.
Just over two dozen people spoke on a motion recommended by city staff to amend in its entirety Title 6, Chapter 1, regarding Animals, of the Antioch Municipal Code. This revision of the code calls for, among other things, the feral cat feeding ban. The emotional issue has come up before the Council for months now, and, as at previous meetings, both sides of the issue were well represented during public comments on the matter.
They began with two young students speaking against the ordinance. Each pointed out that cats, through no fault of their own, had been dumped by their former owners and were simply looking to survive. Their comments were followed by several speakers from cat rescue groups asking that the ordinance not be passed while they implemented a Trap, Neuter, and Release program to solve the problem of feral cats. Speakers said that they had $20,000 in funds committed to such a program.
On the other side, residents, business owners, and representatives of the National Audubon Society asked the Council to pass the ordinance to alleviate problems in the downtown and marina areas with odors and the potential for disease associated with feral cats. Another issue of concern was the possibility of the colonies of cats attacking and harming wildlife on the Delta.
Following public comments, Council members briefly discussed the matter. Councilman Gary Agopian made the point that the proposed ordinance did not prohibit the feeding of cats on private property. Discussion was followed by Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha introducing the motion to pass the ordinance, with the caveat that city staff continue to work with animal rescue groups toward a humane solution for dealing with the feral cats. The Council then voted for the passage of the long discussed ordinance.