Saga of the Jacobsen Road goats: Why the feeder’s gone again

(Photo by Suzanne Krom – goats with visitors before the feeder was removed last month)
You might recall the saga of the Jacobsen Road goats – Bama, Deli, and JJ – who would come say hi to visitors who put a quarter in a food dispenser and rang a bell to summon them. As reported here in June, the feeder went away in late spring after the goats’ owner acquiesced to a neighbor’s complaint. Then, encouraged by community support, he brought it back. Now, it’s gone again, as explained on this sign:

(September 25th photo)
This time, the feeder was removed under order of the city Department of Planning and Development, because of a zoning complaint – the feeder apparently turned the goat display into a “petting zoo.” We started asking DPD for comment last week, and finally received a response last night. Spokesperson Bryan Stevens told WSB, “We inspected the site (Wednesday) and found it to be in compliance with what the code allows in the single-family zone. The owner has been very cooperative and removed the elements that created the ‘petting zoo’ use. The feeding signs, bell, and 25-cent feeder have been removed, but the three goats remain.”

We asked Stevens about what appeared to be a new beef in the goat site’s file: “The more recent complaint that you’ve referenced was regarding the number of animals kept. Someone was claiming that there were more than three animals on site, but upon inspection from the sidewalk, only the three goats were observed … so the service request was closed. Up to three small animals are allowed on each single family property.”

61 Replies to "Saga of the Jacobsen Road goats: Why the feeder's gone again"

  • Person October 3, 2014 (12:30 pm)


    Ugh. Are some Seattlites just the most fun-sucking, NIMBY, busy-bodies in America or does every city have just as many of them? It seems intolerable at times.

  • I. Ponder October 3, 2014 (12:52 pm)

    As the city changes in so many ways through economic growth and development, I think it’s wonderful that some people are making an effort to reach out and embrace the community. What’s next? Do we need permits and attorneys in order to put a LITTLE FREE LIBRARY in front of our homes? I don’t think my street is zoned for that sort of use. Don’t let the Blue-Meanies win!!

  • LAintheJunction October 3, 2014 (12:57 pm)

    What Person said. The goats are awesome. I’d say that even if they were next door to me – and with the way the properties are laid out on the street, there’s actually a good distance between the goats and the neighbors. Is it still a petting zoo if I drop off a bag of feed with a “free by the handful” sign on it?

  • WSince86 October 3, 2014 (12:59 pm)

    I’d happily exchange the goats for my neighbor!

  • flimflam October 3, 2014 (1:01 pm)

    i’m sure the whining complainer will never actually talk to the goat owner. nope, just complain behind their neighbors’ back.

    very lame person(s) with waaaaay too much free time on their hands.

  • biankat October 3, 2014 (1:04 pm)

    Oh, boo. If I were to come for a visit, what sort of feed is good for the goats?

  • JanS October 3, 2014 (1:09 pm)

    love the little note at the bottom of notice that says the goats love corn chips…so take your goat treats when visiting :D

  • Morgan October 3, 2014 (1:30 pm)

    I think the complainers should have to now explain to my young son why he can’t put his quarter (that he saved up) in the machine and feed the goats. And I have to now explain to him that there are awful people in this world. Very sad day as a parent. Booooo! Or should I say baaaaaaah!

  • Diane October 3, 2014 (1:31 pm)

    wow, completely missed this story in June; first time hearing about it; was I in some kind of time warp?

  • G October 3, 2014 (1:32 pm)

    West Seattle has made the complete transition from quiet backwater to fussy, affluent neighborhood of people keeping tabs on each other. Think this doesn’t include all of us? Don’t be too sure.

  • Kravitz October 3, 2014 (1:37 pm)

    @ I. Ponder – you bring up a good point / concern regarding the Little Free Libraries. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if something from the banned classics list showed up in one of those and suddenly the homeowner gets slapped with some ridiculous lawsuit about providing blasphemous texts to their youth etc. Seems like opportunists and NIMBY’s alike just wait for reasons to become the rotten apple in the bunch and take away the good for everyone. It stinks. And yes, what’s to prevent people who enjoy the goats from bringing their own snacks and treats for them? Would it still be a “petting zoo”? Then I suppose the complaining passive-aggressive neighbor would start another complaint with the city and the goats would eventually be removed? This is such nonsense. Am I providing a petting zoo for every dog-owner that passes my fence and happens to have a dog treat in their pocket for my pooch and wants to pet him?

  • Brian October 3, 2014 (1:49 pm)

    West Seattle hasn’t been backwater since they built the bridge in the 80s, don’t kid yourself.

  • martin October 3, 2014 (1:49 pm)

    I love the goats. Long live the goats!

  • fauntleroy fairy October 3, 2014 (1:54 pm)

    Too much noise (from a bell no less!) and traffic? Good Lord! Why the heck are those neighbors living in a city?????

  • Lisa October 3, 2014 (1:56 pm)

    I’m assuming unsalted corn chips will be best. I’ll see you soon with a bag!

  • Cory October 3, 2014 (1:59 pm)

    If I understand the zoning regulations and home business laws correctly the feeder could be installed again if money is not collected. I believe the violation here is operating a type of home business that isn’t permitted in this zone.

    Can the machine be modified such that quarters don’t need to be inserted for feed to come out, or can the coin storage compartment be opened so that the quarter comes right back out?

  • Militant Moderate October 3, 2014 (2:07 pm)

    I’ve lived in six different cities and a couple of small towns in my forty-plus years, and West Seattle far and away the most NIMBY. The stuff that folks complain about here blows my mind. If someone could devise a complaining contest amongst Seattle neighborhoods, we’d be the overwhelming favorites to win.

  • mpento October 3, 2014 (2:14 pm)

    It is a pity that DPD does not seem to give equal weight to neighbours concerns when it comes to developer’s projects. We need a developer goat to build a goat interactive experience project which would obviously not be subject to this petting zoo zoning. For goats that have lost their tails we could have some nice goat retail space on the street level and enough parking would not be an issue because goats don’t own cars or so I herd!

  • rob October 3, 2014 (2:18 pm)

    they probably like carrots

  • K'lo October 3, 2014 (2:27 pm)

    The DPD didn’t do anything about the illegal remodel my neighbor did a few years ago even tho I had before, during and after pics. And, the fact that their new downspouts ran onto my property, flooding my basement. Goats are a bigger problem than neighbors that encroach on another property? Talk about messed up priorities . . .Oy!

  • I. Ponder October 3, 2014 (2:33 pm)

    Do I need a permit for the park bench in front of my house? I also put chalk out so kids can draw on the slab the bench sits on. In the eyes of the law those drawings are GRAFFITI and the children are VANDALS.

  • zark00 October 3, 2014 (2:47 pm)

    Let’s get a zoning exception for the goats!

    What is going on? This is West Seattle isn’t it?! In West Seattle we don’t call animal control, we adopt the stray cats and name them things like ‘stinky’.

  • Iml October 3, 2014 (2:51 pm)

    Neighbor is being truly lame. I will make an extra effort to stop by more often to feed the goats now.

  • MrsT October 3, 2014 (3:17 pm)

    Nothing worse than an unfriendly neighbor. Random goat petting and tiny benches and little libraries and unexpected anatomically correct dragons are some of the things that make this a great place to live.

  • kevin October 3, 2014 (3:30 pm)

    Perhaps I should bring my own bell and treats? Or perhaps the goats could be conditioned to respond to folks bringing treats and simply calling their names? Note to self – go visit the goats soon.
    PS – Goats LOVE blackberry vines!

  • kate October 3, 2014 (3:51 pm)

    I LOVE the goats and would be heartbroken if they were removed. I do wonder, though, about the erosion caused by their path. That area had a landslide a few years back before we moved into the neighborhood. I wasn’t living here at the time, but neighbors told me the slide was caused by a snow plow incorrectly plowing the road. Would love to hear educated thoughts on the that issue.

  • justducky October 3, 2014 (3:52 pm)

    @Cory-I do believe the machine can be modified to not take quarters. I have a gumball machine (the glass and metal kind) and it is merely a simple flip of the coin latch (the part that ensures a coin is inserted in the slot) to be a ‘free feed’.
    Last time I visited the goats, bell ringing was not needed, they heard my car pull up and they came running. I will bring some blackberry vines, carrots, and corn chips for them soon.

  • Morgan October 3, 2014 (3:59 pm)

    I feel like Sawant should get on this one. Finally a cause we can all agree with (other than that one crabby neighbor).

  • JanS October 3, 2014 (4:10 pm)

    kevin…I was thinking the same thing…goats eat anything, including blackberry vines, just about….unsalted cornchips? sure…’ll be a goat smorgasbord :D

  • Alanah October 3, 2014 (4:35 pm)

    I love the goats!! I’ve got my own bell. I plan to ring it lout and long as I approach…grumpy neighbor beware. Those goats are the highlight of my walk, and I tire of one loud (grouchy neighbor) voice getting to force itself on others.

  • sc October 3, 2014 (4:48 pm)

    Goats also like apples. Be sure to cut the pieces small so they can’t choke.

  • JeffK October 3, 2014 (6:08 pm)

    Hooray for the goats! Down with NIMBY neighbors!

  • LivesinWS October 3, 2014 (6:14 pm)

    Doubt the whole neighborhood is against this. It only takes 1 anti-goat neighbor to file a complaint.

  • pupsarebest October 3, 2014 (6:23 pm)

    Goats are renowned for eating just about anything, hence, the little tune I learned from a piano lesson book many years back, “Bill Grogan’s Goat”.
    Bring your vegetable scraps to these little goats, they will love the healthy meal.
    The more I know about people, the more I love dogs…and goats.

  • Ray West October 3, 2014 (6:58 pm)

    I love goats and I understand that people may enjoy petting them, but the constant stream of visitors, cars, bell noise, etc. can certainly get on peoples’ nerves. All the while, the owner is getting his goats fed for free. Visitors can come and go as they please, but the neighbor is stuck with it all the time, so maybe they deserve a little sympathy.

  • trevor October 3, 2014 (8:20 pm)

    I am with Morgan. We need to pass a levy to raise our property taxes so someone can get to all of our houses and make sure we are up to code.

  • Goat friend October 3, 2014 (9:17 pm)

    Two neighbors behind me cut down trees to enhance their views yet DPD never responded to our calls and then claimed they could do nothing without before and after pics. (Despite the fact that we live in a steep slope area). So interesting which rules they choose to enforce.

  • Pibal October 3, 2014 (10:23 pm)

    Seems like the thing to do is have another supportive neighbor near the goats take over the feeder box. If the feeder and the goats are on two separate properties, it cant’t be a petting zoo.

    Find a way! Beat the system!

  • s-kid October 4, 2014 (2:13 am)

    LivesinWS — Unfortunately, it’s true…There’s only one neighbor who’s against the goats (“we hate the goats!”), claiming a lot of different problems that no one else sees. They simply hate the goats and don’t care that the rest of us LOVE feeding them.

    I’m going to create an online petition so we can show the City that there’s overwhelming support for the feeder. I’ll post here when it’s ready so you all can sign. If any of you can help with this, let me know!

  • phil dirt October 4, 2014 (7:13 am)

    I wish the authorities were near as concerned with people whose dogs bark all day and night and with the pit bulls that some owners take for walks and allow to run off leash. The goats don’t keep people awake all night, and they are not dangerous.

  • Rhonda Porter October 4, 2014 (7:49 am)

    We just live a few houses from the goats and the goat-hating neighbor. The goats are now an almost daily visit for us and I bring what ever food I have that’s starting to turn (stale chips, apples, etc).
    The goats still come when you call them… I wonder how the goat-hating neighbor must feel to see that they cannot stop the goat-joy? I wrote about this on our neighborhood blog too – encouraging neighbors to continue to visit :)

  • Beach Drive October 4, 2014 (8:16 am)

    To the good folks who own the goats: thanks for your good spirited sharing of your furry friends. It makes so many people smile.
    To the cranky neighbor …please get involved in something good, generous, and focused on the well being of others, rather than focusing on your own displeasure… I guarantee you will be happier and live longer.

  • Captain Obvious October 4, 2014 (11:29 am)

    Where are they located (address)? I would love to take my son for a visit. I had 2 goats growing up. Do please be careful not to feed them too many processed foods (corn chips, etc). They love blackberry bushes too!
    NIMBY people, please relax and enjoy the fact that we have such a diverse collection of ideas here in WS that keep it truly interesting.

  • Guy October 4, 2014 (3:09 pm)

    Well, even though there’s a complaining neighbor, it’s still the City that’s putting an end to the fun. Which is crazy. Where in the definitions of “petting zoo” does it say that what’s going on at the goat’s house meets that definition? I agree with a lot of the other commenters — it sure seems strange at what the City doesn’t give a hoot about, but when it comes to goats, well, “We can’t have those in Seattle, now, can we?”

    • WSB October 4, 2014 (3:15 pm)

      Guy – I still have that question out to the city rep who finally answered our inquiry – but as soon as I sent the question, I got his out-of-office message for Friday. I am not seeing it in the SMC but I might be using the wrong search terms. Someone along the way suggested it was a federal code; I haven’t found it via the USDA either. But I will continue seeking the answer when everyone’s back in the office on Monday. – TR

  • dawsonct October 4, 2014 (4:11 pm)

    Well, that goat-hating curmudgeon certainly is persistent, aren’t they?
    Someone needs a new hobby.

  • s-kid October 4, 2014 (5:26 pm)

    It would be terrific if someone would create an app with the sound of the bell for the goats for our phones.

    If you or someone you know would do that, let us know!

  • Amanda October 4, 2014 (8:19 pm)

    This is really sad to hear, but I am at least thankful the goats are staying. Feeding them has been a frequent highlight of our neighborhood walks and they really brighten my day. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about – what a waste of time for whoever is getting all worked up about the feeder.

  • anonyme October 5, 2014 (9:00 am)

    I agree with Ray West. I also find the characterization of the dissenting neighbor as “goat hating/goat hater” a childish ploy to demonize this person, much as those against war have been dubbed “freedom haters”. There are also some here accusing the neighbor of NIMBYism; clearly they don’t understand the meaning of the term, as it is the accusers who are guilty of this – not the target. It always amazes me how much vitriol can be spewed supposedly in defense of a warm & fuzzy activity. Hypocrisy.

    I doubt that the goats are the problem, but instead the accompanying noise and hubbub.

  • s-kid October 5, 2014 (3:31 pm)

    anonyme — I wish what you write was true. There are many of us watching this story who are nearby neighbors, and most if not all of us have experienced the neighbor in question calling from their balcony, “We hate the goats!” “Get rid of the goats!” among many other phrases, some not printable here.

  • I. Ponder October 5, 2014 (3:57 pm)

    The angry neighbor deserves no sympathy. There is not a constant stream of visitors. Note that the neighbor has also complained that there are more than the legal number of goats on the property when that’s not the case. It’s the nasty neighbor who is a nuisance.

  • GoatsRUS October 6, 2014 (11:47 am)

    I have been there over the weekend. No problem feeding or seeing the goats. Let it go. Also the family does have a dog so there are more than 3 small animals.

  • Judy October 6, 2014 (12:18 pm)

    I am a neighbor who loves the goats and observe how much joy they bring to the community. It is sad to realize that anyone can be so focused on proving a point regardless of what the rest of the neighborhood and community wants. Reminds me of Fox news! Probably should not have named that one goat Bama.

  • I. Ponder October 6, 2014 (1:24 pm)

    Let’s cater to the most uptight and miserable amongst us. Our community must reflect their sense of order. I would not have posted this comment had “GoatsRUS” not written “Let it go”; who is clearly either the disgruntled neighbor or a shill.

    I consider this to be more than just about these goats, but about the kind of community we choose to be. Sharing vs. catering to the miserable. I vote ‘sharing’.

  • GoatsRUS October 6, 2014 (2:31 pm)

    Goats and Neighborhood. I have been there many times part my walking path. Never heard any neighbor say one negative word or shout at anyone. Everyone very friendly. I agree with Ray West.

  • GoatsRUS October 6, 2014 (4:32 pm)

    I Ponder ..must everyone agree with you?

  • SkyBear October 7, 2014 (1:22 am)

    I agree with anonyme, much demonization. We are all neighbors and have to get along with each other.

    Goat owner legitimately overstepped, and when Neighbor brought it to her attn. and she did not respond, Neighbor reasonably took it to the next step–and city agreed: Owner was the bad neighbor. It’s unfair to pile on Goat Neighbor like this.

    Neighbor wasn’t complaining about the goats: but “noise, traffic, and number” of goats (caused by Owner breaking laws.) A happy medium exists–blaming Goat Neighbor is emotional, one-sided and unfair.

  • s-kid October 7, 2014 (11:38 am)

    SkyBear — What you say is entirely contradicted in the article above. The goat’s owner has fully complied with the City. And he has attempted to satisfy all of the demands of the complaining neighbor, which have gotten increasingly harsher (to no avail).

  • Amanda from Seattle October 15, 2014 (11:28 am)

    We have out of town guests today and are leaving on a walk to feed the goats right now! They are very excited and we are proud to show off the goats as another example of how cool our neighborhood is!!

  • goatsrwestseattle October 19, 2014 (9:22 am)

    Tracy/WSB I was wondering if you ever heard back from the city rep regarding the definition of a petting zoo. With so many people loving the goats and being able to feed them with the feeding station, I would be interested in knowing what the code says and figuring out how we can get it back.

Sorry, comment time is over.