Vacaville eyes $15,000 pilot program for backyard chickens

By August 27, 2014

VACAVILLE — Direct the city staff to develop a $15,000 pilot program for residents to keep chickens in backyards. That’s the recommendation of the Vacaville city staff, which would then present an outline of the pilot program for City Council consideration.

The council takes up the recommendation at its meeting Tuesday.

Backyard chicken-keeping has become more popular in recent years, Barton Brierley, community development director, said in his report to the council. Councilwoman Dilenna Harris asked at a July 15 meeting for a discussion about city regulations on keeping chickens.

Vacaville resident Ravi Rangi had asked that the city amend zoning to allow poultry raising in all residential zones, according to city staff.

The code now allows chicken-keeping only in the zoning districts of residential estate, rural residential, agricultural and hillside agriculture – and only on lots greater than 1 acre. A number of residents keep chickens despite the city’s restrictions, Brierley said in the report.

He said backyard chicken-keeping was prevalent in cities until the mid-20th century. The practice helped sustain people during two world wars and the Depression, he said. As suburban lifestyles became more popular, many cities began regulating the practice to address concerns that include noise, odors and sanitation.

Vacaville restricted backyard chickens in 1960.

Code enforcement has found that enforcing the prohibitions against chicken-keeping has been upsetting for some who have had to relinquish their chickens, Brierley added. Residents who own the chickens often have a strong emotional attachment to their birds, he said.

The animals’ recent renewed popularity is due to benefits that include fresh, organic eggs and that chickens control certain pests, said the city community development director. Of the 11 cities closest to Vacaville, 10 allow home chicken-keeping, Brierley noted.

Erin Beavers, director of community development for Fairfield, said Monday that the city limits residents to three chickens because of the potential to create a nuisance in large numbers.

The Vacaville Backyard Hen Association has prepared a recommended ordinance that would allow up to eight hens on any size lot in residential low-density zones and up to three hens on any size lot in low- to medium-density zones, Brierley said.

A Facebook posting for the backyard hen association states 43 people are going to Tuesday’s council meeting about the matter.

“They’re very interested,” Brierley said Monday about the group.

The proposed pilot program could allow limited test sites in different areas, he said, and Vacaville could contract with a University of California, Davis, consultant to monitor the sites.

Vacaville City Council members meet at 7 p.m. in the chamber at 650 Merchant St.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]

Ryan McCarthy


Discussion | 13 comments

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  • Tax PayerAugust 26, 2014 - 6:53 am

    BS move city of Vacaville. Bending over backwards for the minority that has decided to have chickens in their backyards. Next will be a pet goat, cow, horse...

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  • Tax PayerAugust 26, 2014 - 6:54 am

    43 folks out of 95,000. I would say this is a waste of staff and council time. But again this is government. Government operates to appease the minority of a cause and doesn't give a damn about the rest of us.

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  • JBDragonAugust 26, 2014 - 1:36 pm

    Wasn't this Government creating this law in the first place? I'm just saying,....

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  • SKAugust 26, 2014 - 7:02 am

    I'd say maybe chickens, but the first time I heard a loud arsed ROOSTER constantly waking me up, that sucker would be SHOT!!!!!!But I see no reason why 1 cent of tax payers money needs to be spent on this.

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  • BWAugust 26, 2014 - 10:05 am

    It took tax payer money in the time to draft and enforce the silly ordinance, so it's going to take the same to unravel it. I'd argue it was a waste to have the ordinance in the first place. Think this is the tip of the iceberg for keeping rural animals? Guess what, Vacaville already has accommodations for pot-bellied pigs, Municipal code 6.10. If people can have little yappy dogs, let others have hens and let's spend less taxpayer $ on code enforcement. Besides, a chihuahua or little terrier can be much more annoying than a hen announcing she just laid an egg.

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  • RobAugust 26, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Here's your pilot program Vacaville: Fairfield, Suisun, Vallejo, American Canyon, Napa, Davis, Woodland, Concord, Oakland, Berkeley, Danville, all of Silicon Valley, and NY City. Cities that already approved backyard chickens. This isn't uncharted territory. Stop reinventing the wheel, already and start looking like a forward-thinking group.

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  • Chicken MamaAugust 26, 2014 - 3:15 pm

    So true. Why is a pilot program for $15,000 necessary? I'm in a Fairfield neighborhood and have had chickens for the last year. My neighbors don't complain, they love getting fresh eggs! As long as roosters aren't allowed, I really don't see what all the fuss is about? Like someone else mentioned, dogs are legal and make a lot more noise than a few chickens! I hope Vacaville allows them. We get a lot of pleasure out of having a backyard coop.

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  • General Fadi BasemAugust 26, 2014 - 3:24 pm

    The only backyard chickens that should be allowed are those backyard chickens which are currently on a barbeque grill. Anyone who has other chickens in the backyard should have them confiscated and the chickens butchered and given to FoodMax to be converted to human food.

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  • BWAugust 27, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Real cute people, just keep to the NIMBY routine. Sure, you can have your foodmax chickens and your cheap caged eggs. (which aren't fresh, they're coated in wax so they don't last as long as farm eggs and are often as much as a month old by the time you buy them) Having personally homed chickens rescued from A&L poultry, these commercial animals you get your eggs from are not worth keeping, they've been maimed so bad they can't eat bugs, clean themselves, their bodies are weak and insane. It's taken me over two years to rehab them and every time I have to bathe them because poop is stuck to their feathers, I curse the people that accept this as normal. I wouldn't feed these chickens to my DOG, but if you want to eat them, have at it.

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  • JimboAugust 26, 2014 - 4:15 pm

    Is a few fresh eggs which happen to be cheap in the market really worth alienating yourself from neighbors? Many Vacaville residents make no effort to pay attention to the animals they already have at the expense of peace to everyone around. Cats constantly using neighbors properties as its catbox because the owners will not provide one and covered all places on their own property the cat could use. And dog owners who treat their pet as a household object usually 'put away' and forgotten except for a brief delivery of a bowl of kibble once a day. Drive through most any neighborhood and you will hear one of these poor neglected animals barking, howling, and screaming for hours at a time day and night. And if a neighbor says a thing to the owner the owner tries to act like they are the victim of the upset neighbor saying something. No sense of personal responsibility or accountability at all. Now it sounds like these awful residents will soon have another animal to be bad neighbors with.

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  • Jane DoeAugust 26, 2014 - 10:40 pm

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

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  • CathyAugust 26, 2014 - 10:58 pm

    Right on Jimbo. Alienating neighbors for eggs. My garden is the local cat box. Now my barbecue is getting sprayed. The dog behind me barks daily. The dog next door urinates in one spot only next to the fence. I step out the door and smell it. The neighbor on the other side had 2 chickens that clucked all day then the dog ate one. The lonely hen crowed like a rooster. No thanks I live in the city not the county. No chickens please the dogs and cats are bad enough. I love dogs just not the neighbors animals.

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  • FDCAugust 26, 2014 - 7:29 pm

    This entire exercise is a modern example of C. Northcote Parkinson's laws. What a waste of time and effort just to do something sensible and practical. Ain't government grand?

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