CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. - Homeowners in a beautiful neighborhood in Castro Valley are now having to deal with an ugly problem. One of their neighbors is operating what appears to be an illegal bird mill, and so far, efforts to shut it down have been unsuccessful.
"I can hear them every day, 24 hours a day, especially early in the morning," said Bruce Conway, a Castro Valley resident.
County officials gathered in a closed-door meeting to discuss options for moving forward.
Residents on Jensen Road say their day is constantly interrupted by the sounds of screeching from a neighbor's property. Furthermore, the smell coming from the backyard of the property has become almost unbearable for some, causing an invasion of flies throughout the area.
"It's a nuisance now to everybody else, the flies are constant, I mean my porch is just covered in flies, can't get in the door, without having to shoo away the flies, and they get in," said Holly Naza, a Castro Valley resident.
The bird mill is home to nearly five-hundred exotic birds, according to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, who say the homeowner has been avoiding their calls for cooperation in recent months. An ACSO spokesperson says recent Craigslist postings show the birds being listed for up to $2,000 each. The homeowner does not have a permit to operate, nor is her property zoned for this type of business.
"It sounds like a zoo across the street, there are so many birds, and they are so loud," said Conway.
Another concern is the grading on the hillside. The sheriff's office says the homeowner dug in to the dirt to build the bird cages on the property without approval from the county. Some worry about the potential for a landslide or structural collapse, if and when it rains.
"The birds are in trouble, I mean, they're going to lose all those birds should it rain next year, and if those are still there, it's all soft ground, it's going to wash away," said Conway.