Pungent Llama Stench Prompts Shutdown

Despite a couple's efforts to create an eco-friendly product, officials argue the stench of animal feces and urine is doing more harm than good

By Whitney Irick
|  Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014  |  Updated 11:10 AM PDT
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A couple's environmentally-friendly fertilizer is causing a stink in La Habra Heights, as owners battle with residents and city officials bothered by the stench who demand the Southern California operation be shut down.

Phil and Aida Lough created the liquid fertilizer, dubbed Llama Brew, in 2008 and began selling the product in 2009. The brew is made from organic llama and alpaca manure and bottled in recycled plastic containers, according to the Llama Brew website.

But despite the couple's efforts to create an eco-friendly product, officials argue the stench of animal feces and urine is doing more harm than good. City officials claim the Loughs have defied restrictions set in their original business license and home occupation permit, including rules related to the number of livestock permitted. 

Inspections since 2011 revealed code violations including the presence of five llamas, 38 goats, one sheep, dogs, chickens, ducks and rabbits. The inspection warrant revealed the property had a "strong odor of animal urine and waste … and an inordinate amount of animal feces all over the property."

In August 2013, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered the couple to stop producing the Llama Brew at their 2,262-square-foot Picaacho Road property.

Despite the ruling that Llama Brew be shut down, the dispute between the Loughs and the city of La Habra has continued.

Since they were told to cease operations, the Loughs and some La Habra residents have tried to fight the city by filing thousands of public records requests, City Manager Shauna Clark told NBC4.

The city has spent $468,000 in staff time and expenses plus $150,000 in court fees during the course of its legal battle with the Loughs, Clark said.

When the city's finance manager resigned last year, a Twitter account linked to the Llama Brew website responded to the now-open job position.

The @LlamaBrew Twitter account, with the username Eden the Llama, wrote, "My cat friend is (applying for) the (financial manager) job. He can do a great job."

During a Jan. 10 City Council meeting, Phil Lough gave council members papers that detail his allegations against city officials. The city posted its response letter to Lough on its website under "The FACTS" section -- a digital forum for the city to respond to residents.

Meanwhile, Clark said she believes the Loughs have ceased production of Llama Brew.

A link to place an order for Llama Brew on the company's website was not active, and calls placed by NBC4 to the Loughs were not returned by time of publication.

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