The City of Vacaville unfairly prohibits owners of properties less than 1 acre in size from keeping chickens (Vacaville Municipal Code, Sec. 14.09.077.0500). This policy discriminates against Vacaville residents unable to afford an acre of land to raise chickens. Recently, a Vacaville family was even fined $840 for "possession of an animal prohibited on less than 1 acre" merely for having four pet hens in their backyard. On the other hand, neighboring cities have embraced the concept of self-sufficiency, allowing residents to raise chickens for non-commercial, backyard hobby purposes. These nearby cities have honored the rights of their citizens to raise birds for backyard egg production, fertilizing of grass and gardens, reducing residential waste bound for overloaded landfills, small-scale hobby, and perhaps most importantly, preserving the rich cultural significance backyard chickens have played in the history of California and the United States.
According to urban-agriculture expert Jennifer Blecha, 65% of major cities allow chicken-keeping (Bennet, J., The New Coop de Ville: The craze for urban poultry farming, Newsweek, 2008). This includes California cities and counties like American Canyon, Anaheim, Berkeley, Davis, Fairfield, El Cerrito, Folsom, Irvine, Lafayette, Long Beach, City and County of Los Angeles, Oakland, Mountain View, Redwood City, Riverside, Rocklin, City and County of Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, San Leandro, San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa, Vallejo and many more. Locally, Davis allows up to 6 hens kept in enclosures at least 40 feet from neighboring houses; Fairfield allows chickens as long as no roosters are kept; and Vallejo allows up to 25 chickens if kept at least 15 feet away from neighboring houses. Last year, Sacramento struck down a law that made it illegal to keep chickens on plots under 10,000 square feet in size, similar to Vacaville's 1 acre restriction. Backyard chicken-keeping is a legitimate hobby - websites and online forums dedicated to urban chicken-keeping recieve some 6 million hits per month (Bennet, J., 2008).
However, Vacaville’s 1 acre minimum requirement unfairly prevents City residents from raising chickens for legitimate reasons like production of eggs, waste reduction, and hobby. The average backyard flock of 6-8 hens can provide 250-300 eggs each per year, amounting to 3 dozen fresh, healthy, nutritious eggs per week to supplement the diets of Vacaville households struggling during these difficult economic times. Chickens can consume kitchen scraps, help compost otherwise useless organic waste, and reduce overall residential waste headed to Recology Hay Road - Vacaville's already overloaded 640-acre dump estimated to reach maximum capacity and be permanently closed within the next 70 years. Moreoever, backyard chicken-keeping hobbyists oftentimes are at the forefront of efforts to save rare and endangered breeds of birds that are part of our rich national heritage - breeds that would otherwise go extinct if not for backyard enthusiasts in Vacaville and beyond.
Therefore, residents of the City of Vacaville propose that the City Council immediately adopt a backyard chicken-keeping ordinance that allows owners of lots smaller than 1 acre to raise small, carefully managed, non-commercial backyard flocks of chickens subject to the following restrictions:
All feed should kept in sealed plastic containers at all times (whether chicken feed or pet food);
Owners of properties less than 1 acre should be allowed to raise a maximum of 10 hens;
Owners will be responsible for ensuring that backyard pet chicken flocks are kept in safe, sanitary, and humane conditions to reduce the likelihood of neighborhood nuisances;
All birds should be kept in enclosures at least 20 feet away from neighboring properties;
Roosters should not be allowed on properties less than 1 acre to prevent nuisances; and
Owners should permit City enforcement access to backyard flocks to ensure compliance with the backyard chicken-keeping ordinance.
Residents of the City of Vacaville urge the Mayor and City Council to immediately pass a resolution that adopts these provisions designed to permit chicken keeping for non-commercial purposes while preserving the peace and tranquility of Vacaville’s neighborhoods.
Allow Vacaville resident to raise chickens NOW!