CHICKEN DANCE Defendants in Eldorado chicken suit plan benefit for legal costs

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Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013 6:30 pm | Updated: 4:02 pm, Mon Apr 1, 2013.

It’s impishly billed as the Eldorado Funky Chicken Fuster Cluck, a benefit dance and silent auction for the legal defense of “The Eldorado Nine.”

There will be a deviled egg dish contest. And chicken jokes, of course.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Jennifer Bizzarro posted at 4:47 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Jennifer_Bizzarro Posts: 481

    Dear Jane,

    It's "live and let live" and not oppressive in the least. We actually have five shades of beige from which to choose our house color from before we apply to the Board for permission to re-stucco our homes. If you would like to put a fence or wall around your home, the architectural committee will be out there with you each step of the way, measuring each square foot to see that your enclosed courtyard does not exceed the defined "live and let live" limits, regardless that the smallest possible lot is approximately 1.3 acres. Want to get a Tuff-Shed brand shed for storage? Let's say it is 8' x 10' and is the proper distance from your home and is enclosed, all compliant; if it has a pointed roof, tear it down.

    And Eldorado definitely not gated; why, in fact where a gate might go nicely and looks like one should go, there's a huge gap where a truck has crashed into the (beige) stucco divider. It has been covered with a lovely piece of cardboard. Try doing that to your own home entry however and see how quickly that is "tolerated."

    "A few entitled people" may have bought high; that was the economy of times we lived in. "A few entitled people" with strong legal backgrounds read the Covenants and hired a NM attorney to read them as well since these "entitled people" moved here from out of state.

    Again, you said your husband is an attorney. Ask him to read the Covenants carefully before you get rid of-or bring your hens--to this tolerant, non-oppressive neighborhood.


  • Amy Bertelli posted at 11:27 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Bgrl Posts: 5

    Anne - thanks for your great article. Unfortunately, you got one very important point wrong. One could just as accurately say that the covenant vote to DIS-allow chickens as pets failed. The way it was articulated in the article, it paints the folks who think the covenant clearly defines pets to not include chickens as having "won" a vote when that is just patently not the case. Neither option won. So what does the original language mean?

    Clarity will be good for everyone. It is really sad that the board decided to make this such an adversarial thing and sue the hen owners instead of going to arbitration as our bylaws direct. I hold the board members personally responsible for escalating this situation so unnecessarily. Shame on them.

  • Amy Bertelli posted at 11:14 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Bgrl Posts: 5

    Except that the "article" was written before the actual covenant language was published. And the covenant language gave a very clear choice - yes or no. A non vote was not a yes or a no - it was a non vote.

  • Amy Bertelli posted at 11:10 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Bgrl Posts: 5

    Wish you would move in next to me!

  • Eldorado_Gadfly posted at 6:38 pm on Wed, Apr 3, 2013.

    Eldorado_Gadfly Posts: 29

    Legitimacy of the Covenants??? Not only are they legitimate, they are a legal contract you signed on to. You purchased a home in a common interest development with Covenants. When you do that your personal property rights are subordinated based on what is allowed or not allowed in our Covenants. If you do not like rules, you do not want to live in a common interest development with Covenants.

  • Eldorado_Gadfly posted at 3:21 pm on Wed, Apr 3, 2013.

    Eldorado_Gadfly Posts: 29

    I would like to add a caveat to the Covenant vote percentages that were included in the above piece. There was an article in our August/2012 Eldorado Vistas newsletter, a month before our September 30 Covenant vote on whether lot owners in Eldorado wanted to amend our Covenants to allow poultry. The article was titled "Amending The Covenants". The last line of the article said this, "Thus, those members who don’t vote are effectively casting a “no” vote." There were 973 lot owners who did not vote. I believe this is why. The pro-poultry people were stuffing flyers in mailboxes with much misinformation. I believe those members who did not vote were confused and went for the sure thing.....they supported our Covenants, which do not allow poultry. If anyone wanted to amend our Covenants to allow poultry, you can be sure they took their one chance to do so and voted yes on the amendment to allow. (You can view the entire article in the August/2012 Vistas on our ECIA website, Eldoradosf.org).

  • Stink Bug posted at 12:02 pm on Tue, Apr 2, 2013.

    Stink Bug Posts: 2

    As Mr. Nichols and a couple others have commented, the integrity of the Covenants are the issue. There are however 2 sides to this issue, and the ECIA is wholly inconsistent and arbitrary in they way they enforce the Covenants. It is as if they have their own idea about what Eldorado should be and enforce, or not enforce, or "interpret" as they please the Covenants to pursue what they want. In some cases the Covenants are enforce strictly with "Guidelines" that create restrictions not contained or envisioned by the Covenants. In some cases, the Covenants are ignored.

    I firmly believe that a lawsuit with the ECIA should be directed at their enforcement of Covenants broadly. Not just about chickens and pets, but about solar panels, wind turbines, fences, accessory buildings, architectural restrictions, procedures and the ECIA budget. The ECIA is way off the rails, they have to be forced to stop all the nonsense. They need to be forced to enforce the Covenants, only what's in the Covenants. and not make stuff up as they go along to suit their own petty views.

  • Pat Shackleford posted at 1:03 am on Tue, Apr 2, 2013.

    Pat Shackleford Posts: 570

    Anyone threatened by "off-leash, sometimes vicious dogs" should call county animal control and/or the sheriff. No-brainer, that.

  • LK posted at 10:04 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    LK Posts: 1

    It's funny how matter of fact the anti-chicken folks here in Eldorado are, acting as if we have brought this on ourselves. These are our pets we are talking about. We have raised our hens with our children from baby chicks and now we are being told "get rid of them". You try telling that to your kids. Would you like the ECIA to dictate what types of pet you are allowed to have? Furthermore, I would like to mention to the person concerned about who is paying for the space, it is none of your business. But if you must know, our family (with the help of our supporters) is paying for both the lawsuit filed against us (through our ECIA dues) as well as our defence. The ECIA has brought the lawsuit against us, not the other way around. Come to our event Friday night, you will see what community really means and you might just have a clucking good time.

  • Jan Deligans posted at 8:07 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    jandeligans Posts: 4

    Hi Jane, don't get rid of your hens! We will prevail and get this settled. Our covenants do not disallow hens in any way. They have always been here and they are many more cases than just the ones being sued. Eldorado has always been a place of tolerance and just enough rules to keep things beautiful without getting oppressive. Right now a few entitled people who paid very high prices for their houses are trying to rewrite history and create the exclusive gated community with RULES that they thought they were buying into. We will not let this happen. We will get back to our accepting "live and let live" ways that take advantage of our wonderful large lots again. So don't rule Eldorado out just yet and don't get rid of your hens. Cheers, Hensforth, Jan Deligans, Secretary

  • Jan Deligans posted at 7:47 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    jandeligans Posts: 4

    Hensforth is a non profit organization (although not a 501(c)3 meaning that donations to Hensforth aren't tax deductible) that has formed to fundraise the legal expenses needed to defend themselves against the ECIA's lawsuit against them. It consists of 9 individuals who are being sued as well as many supporters. You can read more about it at hensforth.org. We are paying La Tienda for the space as anyone can. We have received many donations from businesses and individuals for food, music, and all the expenses of putting on such an event. So it is being paid for by Hensforth and other community members and businesses.

    Everyone is invited. We would love to see some Board members come. We have no personal animosity toward anyone and understand that they have legitimate views. This is an event to bring the community together and for us to raise the necessary funds to proceed through the court process as is legally required. It is expensive and we will have to do this and much more. A typical lawsuit will run into about $30,000 so we have a long way to go.

    I'm not sure why you seem to think that Ed Moreno might be on the pro hen side. I hardly think so. After the failed covenant vote - we had an opportunity to resolve this which Ed passed up. We had written guidelines which were a compromise for both sides. Hens were allowed but with greater restrictions than currently and goats and any other animal considered livestock would have been specifically prohibited. It was reiterated that nuisances of any kind would not be tolerated. But instead of discussing this and settling it, he allowed the anti chicken side to pass a resolution that they would no longer talk about the issue and they would never pass guidelines. Which led to the unnecessary lawsuit. Ed could have cited the covenants requirement that the Board interpret the covenants when necessary by guidelines. The guidelines proposed would have been acceptable by almost everyone.

  • Jennifer Bizzarro posted at 7:20 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    Jennifer_Bizzarro Posts: 481

    Dear Jane,

    There are many beautiful custom built homes in Eldorado available for a fraction of the price one would expect to pay elsewhere. Since my husband and I bought our house in 2003, it has lost about $200,000 in value so it is a great time to buy.

    The problem with Eldorado is not chickens; the problem is people. It is a basic lack of consideration for the views and thoughts of others. It is the "Go back to where you came from" attitude of people who are from here vs. those who are not. I was a practicing attorney from San Francisco so I was told to take my suggestions back to California.

    You say your husband is an attorney. I am certain he would advise anyone to read all contracts before any purchase, certainly one as large as nearly $500k. Before making your donation to Hensforth, read what the other side has to say. It's always good to avoid surprises. Try looking at the ECIA covenants and judge for yourselves www.actioneldorado.com and eldoradogadfly.com.

    PS There are four houses for sale on my street and we may list ours as well. Despite all its faults, San Francisco is looking very good compared to this.

  • Future SF posted at 6:29 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    Future SF Posts: 1

    Wow! As a future Santa Fe resident that is seriously considering Eldorado, I am MUCH more concerned about this "while their next door neighbors with loud, off-leash, sometimes vicious dogs are left alone by the ECIA time and time again" than I am about some chickens, or even roosters!!! As the owner of 2 small dogs that I keep leashed or fenced at all times, this information would definitely keep me OUT of Eldorado. I don't think it would be too cool to have to worry about being attacked while out on walks with my leashed dogs. Maybe the ECIA should consider that.

  • Jennifer Bizzarro posted at 6:20 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    Jennifer_Bizzarro Posts: 481

    Who's paying for the space rental, music, food, etc.? The "El Dorado Nine" are not a not-for-profit, or a political action group, nor are they a community group. As I recall, they are a group of five homeowners who are raising money to sue the collective 2, homeowners of Eldorado, which also includes themselves. The La Tienda Performance Space is not free unless certain conditions (such as those above) are met and it will be interesting to see who is picking up the tab.

    Also interesting to see is if ECIA board president Ed Moreno will be there. If ever there was a "Chicken Lover," it's Ed. Perhaps legal counsel will remind him to stay home.

  • Jane Steele posted at 4:40 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    janecooks Posts: 2

    We are in the process of relocating from El Paso to Santa Fe and Eldorado is where I would like to live. The fact that I won't have neighbors jutting up against our house makes it a very appealing to the country girl in me. Imagine my surprise to learn that my chickens, who have lived happily in a charming coop in our backyard for seven years, aren't welcome in the wide open spaces of Eldorado. We live in the middle of a subdivision as far away from the countryside as one can get in El Paso. When we built our coop, I checked the city codes, notified my neighbors and even through a chicken party which friends and neighbors alike attended. I share my eggs with the houses that surround us and if the chickens have stirred any emotions at all they have been those of goodwill and friendship. The fact that a lawsuit was even contemplated is sad to me, and I am married to lawyer! I'm still looking at houses in Eldorado and will make a donation to Hensforth right now in the hopes that this sad and silly lawsuit can be taken care of before I arrive....henless, apparently.

  • David Borton posted at 12:42 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    Dave Posts: 1

    I know and like Ray Nichols, but I wish the article had not concluded with his opiinions because they are just that, not facts. He said that standard procedure is for the ECIA to give warning notices and then next step is a lawsuit. The standad procedure is actually to give 3 warnings, followed by a variance hearing, then mediation or arbitration, then IF ALL ELSE fails, a lawsuit.

    He also said that not enough homeowners have felt it important to change the covenant to allow chickens. This is a partial truth. The homeowners also do not feel it is important to change the covenants to DISALLOW chickens.

    What we agree on is that the legitimacy of the covenants is more important than the question of chickens. Many of us see the radical and illegitimate overreach of the ECIA and paid management as undermining the covenants, making Eldorado a less desirable place to live, and if allowed to stand set a very ominous precedent for even worse decisions to come. This is the gist of the Hensforth group's countersuit against the ECIA.

    But let's put all this heavy stuff aside on Friday at the Performance Space. The fundraising party / silent auction / concert / extravaganza promises to be the most fun Eldorado has had in a long time. http://hensforth.org/

  • Jimmy Green posted at 11:11 am on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    Evil_J Posts: 145

    all of them.... hahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • Randy Getty posted at 11:10 am on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    ghettodog Posts: 1

    I live on the far west side of SF. Next door there's 12 goats. Across the street there's a miniture donkey. Behind me there's chickens, roosters and who knows what else. I even hear a cow mooing now and then. It's live and let live and there's not the slightest problem except once when a goat wandered out on to Agua Fria Rd. Nothing to get bent out of shape over!

  • Jimmy Green posted at 11:10 am on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    Evil_J Posts: 145

    what do you expect when the city moves to the country. oddly, i can have chickens right here in good ole santa fe. not that i would want those nasty azz yardbirds anyway, but i can. In fact, i think i'll carry on in the tradition of eldorado-ites and feed them to the coyotes.

  • Jan Deligans posted at 10:32 am on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    jandeligans Posts: 4

    For the past year and a half, Eldorado has been in a debate on exactly what this pets covenants means with regards to specific animals. Hens seem to be a wedge issue. Part of the debate was to float two opposing covenant changes - one specifying ok on hens (not roosters) and the other specifying no hens. BOTH CHANGES FAILED TO PASS. It was not a 54% to 44% result because the 2 changes were independent of each other. The two covenant changes were not which one got the most votes. Under our covenant rules, a covenant change has to get 50% + 1 of all the members votes therefore both failed, as was predicted. That means that the Board then had the legal obligation to interpret the covenant to resolve the issue. In 1999, this had already happened. The Board of that time proposed or passed guidelines saying anything smaller than a large dog can be a pet under the Eldorado covenants. That ruling, along with the variances that have been granted, is still the guidelines in effect. Those opposed to chickens have tried to distort the facts to ignore these obvious historical events and have tried to say that the covenant vote had an effect when actually, legally, it doesn't. The current Board, instead of doing it's fiduciary duty and interpreting this covenant, chose to pass a resolution that they would not deal with it or talk about it. That was on Nov. 15, 2012. Then on the day after Christmas, the lawsuits were filed. Obviously, either someone on the Board talked about it with the lawyer, or the lawyer went rogue and just did it on his own. The counter lawsuit filed by the chickenistas is charging the ECIA with bad faith and malfeasance. The current Board never looked at the real issue - what does the current covenant actually mean with regards to hens. What are the historical precedences? What is the grammar? How do other court rulings fit in with our case? Instead, the decided (or rather passively let the lawyer decide) based on their perception of who was most likely to sue. Unfortunately for all, their judgement on that was wrong. They abdicated their duty.

  • Lyle Jackson posted at 8:48 am on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    LyleJackson Posts: 11

    "Problems white people have."

    Chickens and lawsuits. Big things happening out there.

  • DB posted at 10:08 pm on Sun, Mar 31, 2013.

    DB Posts: 3

    I want to underscore one very important detail omitted in the article. After our variance was granted by the ECIA (recognizing that our hens were pets rather than for commercial use), SIX YEARS went by where we heard literally not a peep from the ECIA. No one called, no one 'checked up on us,' nothing. Why, six years later, were we suddenly a big problem? Our house, unlike some families with chickens, is set way back from the road and our 'backyard' is the greenbelt. Nothing had changed and (as stated in the article), we made sure there was no nuisance to our immediate neighbor. The trespasser had an agenda: he came looking for us and was so desperate to create the illusion of people in Eldorado 'harboring chickens' for commercial use that he had to misrepresent his photo of our coop with a caption insinuating we were involved in some commercial poultry endeavor. And the ECIA accepted this photo as 'evidence!'
    Oh, and one more thing: the only reason some Eldoradoans keep quiet about owning pet hens is that despite the fact that NO specific animals other than horses and dogs are explicitly recognized as 'household pets,' many chicken owners fear they will be harassed mercilessly by the ECIA if they 'came out,' while their next door neighbors with loud, off-leash, sometimes vicious dogs are left alone by the ECIA time and time again. Others simply don't feel they need to ask for a variance any more than they would need to for a pet dog. Their hens are pets to them and that's the bottom line.

  • Ruyliev posted at 7:17 pm on Sun, Mar 31, 2013.

    Ruyliev Posts: 9

    How many in El Dorado are running around in chicken suits, anyway?


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