LA City Council OKs proposal to ban rodeos in the city, but with some exceptions

City News Service
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
LA City Council OKs proposal to ban rodeos -- with exceptions
Riders on horseback gathered outside L.A. City Hall as the City Council considered a ban on rodeos in the city.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday called for the drafting of an ordinance that would ban rodeos in city limits over concerns the events are inherently cruel to animals - but the council also said it wants to carve out exemptions for certain cultural and traditional activities.

Council members voted 14-0, with Councilwoman Nithya Raman absent, in favor of a motion instructing the city attorney to amend city law to define and prohibit "rodeos," as well as "harmful practices, techniques and devices or rodeo-related events."

"Isn't this Los Angeles? Are we not the City of Angels, the compassionate city that leads? We usually set the trends. Not this time," said Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who introduced the motion in 2021. "But this time, we have an opportunity to catch up."

On another 14-0 vote, the council also approved an amendment to the motion, by Blumenfield and Monica Rodriguez. It's intended to carve out protections for cultural and traditional equestrian events such as charrería, predominantly practiced by Latinos and a tradition in Mexican and western United States livestock herding communities, among other activities.

"The amendment today changes what you see in the council file. And what was there before was banning the instruments of torture that caused the pain to the animals," Blumenfield said prior to the vote.

"But unfortunately, that confused some folks. Originally, I thought that was the way to go. Because it was very specific, but people started thinking, well, maybe it'll apply to something else and that it could potentially be interpreted too broadly. They thought they could not go horseback riding or participate in charrería events or do dressage or trail runs. We wanted to make sure that those things were not captured."

Rodriguez said that if the city were to approve a blanket ban on rodeos, it could directly impact communities of color.

"I'm actually really grateful in that this ordinance has unified communities of color that are supportive of equine-keeping practices," Rodriguez said prior to the vote. "This rich cultural tradition that has unified all of our communities because it is something that we all gravitate to is something that is really well celebrated."

While Rodriguez and other council members applauded the changes to the motion, Blumenfield clarified there will be no major changes made to the item.

"I don't want to throw a monkey wrench into the kumbaya here, but I want to make it clear this is not about re-litigating ... or going back to the drawing board," Blumenfield said.

He told his colleagues that the motion is an "instruction" to the city attorney to draft an ordinance that bans specific cruel activities such as "bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, road capping, etc."

It also says that "we are going to define rodeos not to include equestrian and charrería events; American Indian or Indigenous rodeo events, etc.," provided that the event does not engage in the "compromising" activities that meet the definition of rodeo, Blumenfield added.

The proposed ordinance will next head to the council's Neighborhoods and Community Enrichment Committee -- with that three-member panel considering whether the city attorney's draft does "what we are telling them to do," the councilman noted.

Rodriguez said she was disappointed there wasn't expertise or input from stakeholders in drafting the proposed ordinance to fully understand the implications of what the affected events are, or what they entail.

"I want this to go back to committee for the purposes of really having a very firm technical understanding of how this could potentially be misinterpreted and applied to communities of color," Rodriguez said. "This has to invite our communities to be part of that conversation, so that we can fully appreciate it."

Councilman John Lee, who sits on the committee, agreed with Rodriguez and he noted he will ensure a full discussion around protecting cultural traditions.

Council President Paul Krekorian reiterated that whenever a council majority decides to weigh in or change a proposed ordinance they "always" preserve that option.

A rodeo band would end the annual Los Angeles appearance by the Professional Bull Riders tour, which has events at Arena in February.

The two-day PBR stop in early 2023 drew 12,529 fans for its Saturday night event, with about 20 animal rights demonstrators outside the arena.

PBR events focus on bull riding and do not include other traditional rodeo events. The tour has fought back against complaints of cruelty, running an ad prior to its 2023 tour stop that stated: "Buck the L.A. City Council. The Only Thing Being Tortured is the Truth."

"PBR bulls are extraordinary athletes born to buck who get great care and are protected by stringent rules and guidelines ensuring their safety and well-being. Attempting to ban our sport is based on rampant misinformation, is culturally insensitive, and completely unnecessary," Andrew Giangola, a representative for PBR, said in a statement Tuesday.