Los Angeles's fight to legalize backyard beekeeping has lasted years but may now be coming to a successful end. The City Planning Commission has just approved an ordinance that would allow apiaries in places that are zoned for single-family residential use. According to a release from the Planning Department, the decline of the general bee population was a big factor in the decision to legalize bees, but it probably also helped that lots of other large cities (like San Francisco and New York) already allow people to keep bees in their yards, and that urban agriculture has become increasingly popular across the city. This ordinance isn't a free-for-all, though; there would be restrictions about how many hives can be on a lot and precise specifications about their placement.
In the single-family residential areas where they'd be allowed, the hives would have to be five feet away from where neighbors' yards begin and 20 feet away from streets or sidewalks. The ordinance also mandates only one hive per 2,500 square feet of lot space, that there be a water source for the bees, and that beekeepers register with the city.
The movement for backyard beekeeping first gained steam and visibility way back in 2011, when a Mar Vista couple took up the cause and got their councilmember onboard. Two years ago, the City Council asked the Planning Department to conduct a study on the matter. Now that this ordinance has been given the go-ahead by Planning, it goes on to the City Council, which will review it and decide what to do next.