The Hesperia City Council has voted on, and approved it, twice, but the city's service animals ordinance might be up for another vote later this year, if opponents succeed in putting it on the ballot.
Former mayor and current planning commissioner Bill Jensen is spearheading the effort to give residents the ability to repeal the ordinance that defines a legally protected service animal as any animal with a doctor's certification of their status as such. The city council originally approved the measure at their March 1 meeting and reaffirmed it at their March 15 meeting.
March 15 was also the day that the federal government, after 21 years, redefined a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act to guide dogs and miniature horses. The Hesperia ordinance was meant to keep intact the original 1990 definition, which did not specify what species could serve as a service animal.
But the ordinance is sloppily written, contradictory and opens up businesses to too many potential lawsuits, according to Jensen.
"This brand-new document in Hesperia is inept compared to" the Americans with Disabilities Act "and you have left me 10 different ways to get sued," he said Friday.
The ordinance was passed at the request of library volunteer Danni Moore, who uses two rats to warn her of spasms caused by her fibromyalgia.
"You can't vaccinate a rat for the diseases they carry," Jensen said. "I worry about my little boy putting my fingers in his mouth" in a restaurant where a service animal has been "and getting spinal meningitis."
"We're having a tough enough time in business as it is," said Jensen's brother Don, the president of Century 21/Rose Realty. "You'd think we'd want to help the businesses here, rather than hurrying them away."
Bill Jensen is currently researching what is legally required before he can begin collecting signatures in an attempt to put the issue on a ballot later this year as a referendum.
"It's going to take us better than 3,300 [people] to remove this, as opposed to one person requesting it," said Don Jensen.
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.