Chickens Allowed In Single-Family Residential Zones
8:14 AM, Jan 12, 2012
There were more than a few "egg-centric" puns that played out at Santee's City Council meeting Wednesday, but in the end, the council voted 3-2 to allow chickens in single-family residential zones.Santee Planning Director Melanie Kush shared the city's staff report and first reading of an ordinance that explained the enforceable regulations that will be added to the city's municipal code regarding the keeping of urban agriculture.Kush outlined areas that will be enforced by code, including: a maximum amount of chickens (depending on size of the lot); no roosters; full containment; protection from predators; construction materials (durable plastic included); proper food storage; locations of coops and enclosures/setbacks (15 or 20 feet away from fence lines, depending on the lot size); sanitary conditions; refuse control; bird disposal; and the prohibition of commercial breeding and slaughter.The ordinance also will add a section on public-nuisance issues, including noise and odor control; removal and burial (at least three feet underground); and animal control to protect the health and safety of both the chickens and citizens.Council members Rob McNelis and John Ryan were the dissenters in the 3-2 vote. The second reading of the ordinance will take place at the next council meeting on Jan. 25.Mayor Randy Voepel, who grew up in a rural area where his family kept dozens of animals, including chickens, said there was not a chance he would be keeping any chickens. He said that if he did, "My wife informed me I'd have to make a much bigger chicken coop because that's where I'd be sleeping."McNelis peppered Kush with questions and expressed concern that an already maxed-out, budget-cut staff would not have the time to enforce the codes. He learned that the city currently has one code-enforcement person on staff. McNelis also wondered why chickens, unlike dogs, do not have to be licensed so that the city could keep tabs on them.Kush said offenders would be charged $100 per violation per day. But, she said, "we give them 10 days to get their act together before we actually issue a citation. We give folks a head's up with a letter we will send out."McNelis said: "I get emails and phone calls... about how we don't take care of the ordinances we have now, (how) we are a bare-bones staff. So now we're adding a brand-new ordinance that already's got a bunch of people on edge, and we have one person who can't take care of all the complaints we have right now, and we're going to add more to that list? I have a hard time with that."Santee resident Alan Stuart, an outspoken advocate who has been raising chickens with his father for many years in the city, spoke before the council and asked for certain restrictions to be given a grandfather clause.Stuart specifically requested residents who already have coops in place not be required to move them. He was turned down."I had no confidence they would like it," Stuart said later.For other stories from our news partner, go to utsandiego.com.