Castro Valley resident's backyard birds raise concern

CASTRO VALLEY (KTVU) -- Neighbors say loud noises, foul smells and flies are coming from a house in eastern Castro Valley where the homeowner appears to be breeding hundreds of tropical birds in the backyard.

"She started off with a few birds and she just kept adding more birds and more birds," said Lani Langon, who lives nearby and says the number of bird cages tripled since the first birds appeared last year.

"It's very stressful," Langon said. "We hear the birds in our home."

Langon says she and her husband hung fly traps around the property, but the problem is so bad, it's difficult for them to be outside in their own back yard.

"You can't open your doors because of the flies," Langon said. "Just worrying about the health issues associated with the bird waste and the flies coming over to our property."

The Alameda County Sheriff's office says they responded to neighbors' complaints and found evidence of multiple code violations.

"Much to our dismay and shock, we saw several hundred birds, estimates up to about 500," said Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly. "And these are parrots and macaws."

Kelly said the neighbor has been breeding birds and selling them without a permit as well as grading the back yard in violation of municipal code.

"A lot of our county ordinances are being violated, and you can't have this tremendous amount of animal life on a residential property," Kelly said.

"People want peace and quiet in the neighborhood and they're not getting that," said Bruce Conway, another resident in the neighborhood.

Homeowner Bianca Pham, who is listed as an optometrist with offices in Fremont and Newark, did not respond to requests for comment.

Her daughter said her mother is trying to take care of the problem.

"It's a hobby of hers (and) she really loves the birds," said Yna Pham.

Yna said her mother is trying to sell the birds. And some of the animals were advertised for sale on the Craigslist for as much as $1,600. She said her mother has been depressed recently and the birds help lift her mood.

"My mom (is) working on a divorce with my dad and he's giving her a really hard time," Yna said. "Taking care of the birds is a nice outlet, a nice hobby for her."

Kelly says county agencies and the State Department of Wildlife plan to meet Wednesday to discuss a solution. Sgt. Kelly says they hope the owner will work with them, but if not, she could be facing fines or even criminal charges.

By KTVU reporter Jana Katsuyama.

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