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South Central Acres

from the LA Times

South L.A. backyards are becoming barnyards


Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times

Barnyard fowl are penned in a chain link enclosure in the backyard of a residence in South Los Angeles. Some area residents complain that their neighborhood is being overrun with roosters. The problem illustrates an ongoing divide in a traditionally black neighborhood that is transitioning into a Latino enclave.


Once predominantly African American, the area has seen an influx of Latino immigrants, along with their roosters, chickens and other barnyard beasts not typically part of the urban scene.

By Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer May 25, 2008


When her neighbor’s roosters and chickens persisted in running through her yard, G. Stone took matters into her own hands. She marched next door and issued a warning: Do something about the uninvited guests or the birds “were going in my pot.” The incursions stopped. But Stone, a retired Los Angeles County librarian who lives northwest of Watts, shook her head in exasperation as she recalled the incident. “I’ve lived here for 50 years,” she said. “All of a sudden, there’s an influx of chickens. You’re not supposed to have chickens in the city.”

For many, the image of South Los Angeles is that of a paved, parched, densely packed urban grid. But increasingly, it is also a place where untold numbers of barnyard animals — chickens, roosters, goats, geese, ducks, pigs and even the odd pony — are being tended in tiny backyard spaces.

Little Baby Goat by Cristall Harper“Most people don’t realize just how many farm animals there are in the city,” said Ed Boks, the general manager of the city’s Animal Services department.

Indeed, about a block from the beauty parlor where Stone was getting her hair done earlier this month, a pair of goats chewed something dark and unidentifiable as they stood placidly near the traffic whizzing by on Avalon Boulevard. A pit bull next door eyed them lazily.

The cacophony of cock-a-doodle-doos south of the 10 Freeway is one of the louder manifestations of a demographic change that has transformed South Los Angeles in the last few decades.

Once primarily an African American community — and still the cultural and political heart of the state’s African American population — the area has absorbed tens of thousands of immigrants from Mexico and Central America and is now predominantly Latino. In Southeast L.A., the black population has dropped from 71% in 1980 to 24% in the 2000 census; the Latino population grew from 27% in 1980 to 74% in 2000.

For some folks, the rooster has become a potent symbol of the way their neighborhood is changing.

“Sometimes, I think it’s Mexico,” said Tony Johnson, who lives in Southeast L.A. He confessed that after being roused early some mornings, he has fantasized about silencing the birds permanently. “Boom. Boom. Boom,” he said, pantomiming how he would do it. 

[ click to read full article in the LA Times ]

Posted on May 25, 2008 by Editor

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