Judging from the number of public speakers, the most compelling issue before the El Cerrito City Council Tuesday night was a resolution asking local businesses not to sell 20 rodenticides that the EPA has targeted as too dangerous.
Seven of the evening's nine speakers addressed the issue, all in favor of the resolution, which also asks local residents and contractors, as well as city staff, not to use the products.
The council approved the measure unanimously as part of its adoption of the consent calendar, a collection of items that are voted on together and not part of the council debate or discussion.
Eleven of the 20 rat and mouse poisons on the EPA list are highly toxic anticoagulants, meaning they cause death from bleeding. They are also blamed by critics for illnesses and deaths among children, pets and wildlife.
One of the more vivid stories related by the speakers came from El Cerrito resident Patricia Jones who told of "Mo," a fledgling turkey vulture that her family watched being raised near their home. He later died from ingesting rat poison.
"We were horrified as he came to us moments before he died," Jones said."As the prior speaker said, it's not a pretty death."
Jane Kelly of Berkeley decried rodenticides for "poisoning children and killing dogs and cats, birds of prey and many other species of wildlife."
"There are thousands of deaths caused by these products," she said, summarizing the findings of the "literally heartbreaking" data she obtained from the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.
"I also wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how impressed we are with the environmental leadership shown by the City of El Cerrito," she added.
"It's everything. It's the new Recycling Center, the rain gardens, the way you install swales along the streets, the California native plantings whenever landscaping is performed – you are really forward-thinking and creative. And I just wanted to take the opportunity this evening to say it's not going unnoticed by the residents of your neighboring cities."
Councilwoman Ann Cheng, who proposed the council resolution, noted that the city does not use anticoagulant rodenticides.
The proposal was endorsed by the city's Environmental Quality Control Committee on Aug. 14. Several residents as well as members of the ad hoc group, Raptors Are The Solution (RATS), have also contacted city staff urging support for the measure, according to the staff report presented to council.
The report, which includes the resolution, is attached to this article.