Pismo Beach votes to allow goats in the city

Dana McGregor with his three goats — Goatee, top, Pismo and Grover — at his home in Pismo Beach.
Dana McGregor with his three goats — Goatee, top, Pismo and Grover — at his home in Pismo Beach. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Pismo Beach has allowed residents to raise horses, cattle and sheep on lots that are one acre or larger.

But goats? Baa.

That changed Tuesday, when the Pismo Beach City Council voted 4-1 to allow residents to keep and raise up to four goats within the city. Goats also will be allowed at public parks, as long as their owner keeps them on a leash and cleans up after them.

Councilwoman Mary Ann Reiss cast the dissenting vote, stating she needed “to stay true to my beliefs.” During a previous council meeting, she questioned why the city was responding to a request from one resident.

The new rules were prompted by a request from goat owner Dana McGregor, whose pets, Goatee, Grover and Pismo, have become well known for their ability to surf.

He asked the city to reconsider its goat prohibition after receiving several costly tickets for allowing his goats to graze in the city.

McGregor, busy with a stand-up paddleboard/surfing camp, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. On Wednesday, he said he was happy with the council’s decision and planned to apply for a permit, though he sounded discouraged at the $300 application fee.

“If I wasn’t so busy with the camp, I probably would have been there and asked if we could do community service, maybe clean up city property and maybe call it even,” he said.

The new rules require goats to be kept at least 25 feet from any open water drainage system, according to a staff report. No permit would be issued if another permit was already in effect within 200 feet of a property boundary.

The ordinance does not specify a minimum lot size for goats; during a previous meeting, Community Development Director Jon Biggs said there are a number of different breeds of goats requiring different amounts of space and he wasn’t ready to propose a minimum lot size.

Approval would be granted for a one-year trial permit, which would be reviewed to determine whether the permit can continue, be further conditioned or revoked. The permit fee was set at $300.

The ordinance will come back to the council for final approval on its consent agenda (where items are normally approved as a group and not discussed) and then go into effect 30 days later.

One Pismo Beach resident spoke against the new rules Tuesday. Without mentioning McGregor by name, Mel Stahlman said he’s seen the goat owner allowing his brood to wander around off-leash.

“Those goats go everywhere,” Stahlman said. “They poop; you can’t control them. They were eating our trees and shrubs.”

In response, Mayor Shelly Higginbotham said the new rules include some restrictions that didn’t previously exist and now will allow police to ticket individuals who don’t have their goats on a leash in public parks.

“We’re going to give it a try, and hopefully this individual will keep their goats on leashes, and they can live harmoniously in the neighborhood,” she said.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune