After listening to a litany of dangers and irritations posed by cats on the prowl — from the diseases they carry, to the birds and other wildlife they kill, to the fur they leave behind after sitting uninvited on outdoor furniture — the Edmonds City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to include cats in an ordinance already on the books aimed at preventing animals from roaming freely. Councilmember Joan Bloom cast the sole dissenting vote on the measure.
The move reversed a decision by the council last year to exclude cats from the ordinance, a move that received much criticism from nearly everyone who came to speak during a public hearing on the matter Tuesday night. Among the points made by those favoring the inclusion of cats in the “Running at Large” law:
– Health issues: One speaker testified he has to clean disease-carrying cat waste out of his vegetable garden daily, while a second cited the connection between toxoplasmosis found in cat droppings and mental health problems.
– Bird and wildlife impacts: A different speaker noted that house cats and feral (wild) cats combined contribute to the death of an estimated 434 million to 1.1 billion U.S. birds every year.
– Dangers to themselves: A few speakers spoke to the increased risks that cats face when allowed outdoors: being hit by a car, killed by another animal or poisoned, for example.
According to the ordinance, it will now be a civil violation for cat owners to allow their animals “to run at large during any hours of the day or night” with fourth and subsequent violations being misdemeanor offenses. In addition, animal control officers may seize and impound any animal found roaming free.
In other action, the council:
– Observed the swearing-in ceremony of Edmonds Police Sgt. Josh McClure, a veteran officer who started with the department at age 17 as an Edmonds Police Explorer.
– Approved to continue by a 5-2 vote an existing city moratorium on marijuana dispensaries. Councilmembers speaking in favor said the moratorium would give the city some additional breathing room while the Washington State Liquor Control Board finishes its work on regulations stemming from the voter-approved pot legalization initiative. Councilmembers Strom Peterson and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas voted no.
– Voted 4-3 to rescind an interim zoning ordinance that would have amended the city’s critical areas ordinance, a measure that was specifically aimed at accommodating the design of the city’s new spray feature at City Park. Bloom, who had originally supported the interim ordinance when it came before the council earlier this summer, said she had a change of heart after learning that the law could potentially allow paving and an increase in impervious surface in wetland buffers in other parts of the city.
– Authorized Mayor Dave Earling to accept $50,000 in grant money from the Washington State Department of Ecology for stormwater work, and another retrofit/local improvement district project grant of up to $120,000.
– After some discussion, decided to refer to a future meeting a conversation with Finance Director Roger Neumaier on options for approaching the 2014 city budget.
– Also deferred to a future meeting a discussion about developing a city Code of Ethics.