Local Chicken Laws and Ordinances

Local Chicken Laws and Ordinances


The west was still wild or certainly looked a lot different  when many of today’s cities and town ordinances were written to prevent having chickens in most urban environments.

It was certainly common for many urban environments to prohibit any kind of poultry and agriculture and the general trend was to separate farming from the cities and town.  Your backyard chicken coop maybe  a first for your community and your city council so be prepared!

Chicken laws and ordinances vary DRAMATICALLY from one city to the next.  Just because your neighbor in city X who lives across the street can X number of chickens, you might be prevented from even thinking about chickens!

For example, San Jose allows 6 hens with just 20 foot setbacks.  Cupertino’s rules are based on your zoning and very strict neighbor approval of chickens:


It is unlawful and a nuisance for any person to keep, maintain or permit upon any lot or parcel of land within the City under his control any animal, including any fowl, which by any sound or cry shall habitually disturb the peace and comfort of any person in the reasonable and comfortable enjoyment of life or property. (Ord. 1871, (part), 2001)


Some cities require $50 annual permits and inspections.  Many have these setbacks of 200 feet from your nearest neighbor.. which is hard to get when your lot is only 100×100 feet!

So before you invest your last month’s paycheck into a coop, it’s best to find out what your city laws and ordinances say about backyard chickens.

The Website BackyardChickens.com has a complete section on just California chicken laws and ordinances that lists many CA communities.

Good News: It is usually fairly easy to find the rules on having backyard chickens in your city or county area if outside of a city and the rules are generally specific enough to see what you will be dealing with.  There is a general trend in most cities and urban/semi rural settings to work with residents, change the rules and allow for small back yard flocks.  Cities understand the importance of local, sustainability in our food system and there are many good ordinances being developed by cities and counties all over the country from which you can model new rules if needed.

Looking up your cities fowl ordinances:

I started researching various cities bee ordinances a few months back and quickly realized that almost all cities and counties do an excellent job of posting their ordinances and laws on the Internet.  There must have been some legal disclosure requirement as it appears there are websites separate from the town website that clearly list town ordinances.

1) So first figure out if you are under city/town rules or county rules for things like pets and animals.

2) Do a google search for your city /county name with keywords Municipal code – For example searching for “municipal code Redwood City” took me to this website:

Once you are on the municipal code, I found the section for animals and the redwood city ordinance is:



It is hereby declared to be a nuisance for any person or persons other than a licensed veterinarian and except as specifically provided in this Article, and it shall be unlawful to keep, maintain or feed within confined or unconfined areas live chickens, roosters over four (4) months of age, geese, ducks, turkeys, or similar fowl or rabbits; provided that a maximum of three (3) chickens or three (3) rabbits, or a combination thereof not exceeding three (3), may be kept, maintained or fed as pets within confined clean coops or cages.

(Ord. No. 1618, § 3, 1-6-1975; Ord. No. 1883, § 27, 11-7-1983; Ord. No. 1922, § 5, 10-14-1985; Ord. No. 2178, § 2, 8-9-1999)


So this basically says you have can 3 chickens!


You probably don’t want to read between the lines too carefully since many other urban backyard farming practices of compost, aquaculture, and beekeeping  maybe prohibited but they tend to not to cluck!

If you live in an city/town that prohibit chickens,  don’t give up!  Most councils might enjoy a bit of it’s residents getting involve to modify it’s town ordinances, especially in ways that promote a more “green” approach to city planning.  You can write ordinances that can please almost any council member.  These ordinances do get amended time to time, mostly from input from coopsters citizens like you!

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Community Farm Stand


Every block should have a community farm stand.  We need to share the bounty of our backyard urban farms, with fresh eggs, honey, crops, flowers and citrus.

About 2 years ago I created one in our neighborhood in Los Altos Hills.  It now includes

  • Lending library – take a book, leave a book
  • FREE Seed library – Borrow and share your backyard vegetable garden seeds
  • A place to share or sell everything including my extra eggs, honey, apples, onions, lavender, tomatoes, seedlings, oranges, etc.
  • A integrated cooler for eggs and produce that can use refrigeration or protected from critters.

I built this farm stand out of some recycled lumber and an old book case / cabinet and some simple metal roofing from Home Depot.


I encourage others  who have backyard eggs and other  bounty they need to share or sell to build their own farm stand in their neighborhood.  If you think the farm stand might be an issue, start with a lending library and get neighborhood acceptance and  add produce and your backyard farm  products slowly.

For more inspiration on your Community Farm Stand, check out the website



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Tour De Coop 2015 – Sneak preview of coops and event!

Thank you for registering for the SV Tour De Coop 2015!

Here’s a quick preview of how the coop tour works and a sneak preview of what will come about a week before the event!

1,483 folks registered for this 2014 Tour De Coop event.  We had 29 coops, over 230 miles of coop loops created from 9 different tours from 5 miles to 100 miles! It was a heck of a COOP day! We hope to have a similar spread of coops and routes from San Jose to Redwood City and beyond for the 2015 Tour De Coop!

About 3-5 days before the coop tour, we will email you with a special email with links to a set of hidden coop tour web pages for:

  • Coop List with addresses arranged by city – Each coop stop has it own page
  • Post Coop Tour social events info
  • Google Map of Coops
  • Bicycle Coop Tour Routes with Maps/Cue Sheets

Example Coop Stop Page

We are starting to gather coops and create individual coop pages. We currently have about 14 coops but need several more!  Here is one coop scheduled  for 2015  tour in Los Altos called L’Auberge Inn.

Check out the L-Auberge Inn coop page to get an idea of how you can review the coops on the various tours before the event.

Call for coops and volunteers/organizers

If you wish to offer your coop on the tour or help organize, please register for the  Coop tour 2015 Organizers and Coopster eventbright ticket.

Spread the word about the coop tour to your friends, and especially your friends that have a coop!  I see a coop in your future!


Any ideas or questions?  Feel free to contact the SV tour de coop folks at svTourDeCoop@gmail.com.

Keep Clucking

SV Tour De Coop

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Sharing – The SV Tour De Coop 2015 Theme

Sharing – The Tour de Coop 2015 theme



Each year we like to create a theme that the coop tour can  model, inspire and promote in various ways.  This year’s the theme will be “Sharing“.

For starters, the coop tour would not exist if we did not have coopsters (coop owners) who share and open up  their gardens, yards, and coops to the coop tourists each year.  We all greatly benefit from their generous sharing and the coop owners meet new friends and connections to better their lives as well.DSC_0064

Halloween and it’s tradition of going door to door and asking for candy from every neighbor on the block on this one special day is one of my favorite examples of breaking  some social norms that have made sharing with your neighbor or friends less than normal.

We hope the coop tour and some of it’s inspirational messages will help create some new neighborhood sharing traditions that we need to restore to make us feel connected again with our communities.

Sharing Examples:

Here is just a short list of Coop tour sharing examples that we will expand upon in other newsletters:

  • Sharing of our backyard chicken raising and gardening experiences
  • Sharing of our time and garden tool resources to help our neighbors build their urban farms
  • Sharing of our eggs, crops, produce, and bounty of our harvests
  • Sharing of our knowledge of healthy, sustainable food systems
  • Sharing,  borrowing, and loaning of any items that we feel comfortable in sharing with a circle or friends or neighbors
  • Sharing our harvest’s seeds with a local seed library
  • Sharing a meal with your neighbors and friends – maybe with some locally grown items from your own soils!
  • Sharing a common vision for your community and promoting events and planning to create that more livable, friendly community we all want to live in.

So start sharing by telling your friends about the coop tour so they too can learn more about the sharing too!

Any ideas or questions?  Feel free to contact the SV tour de coop folks at svTourDeCoop@gmail.com.


Keep Clucking!

SV Tour De Coop

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SV Tour De Coop 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Offer your coop! | Help Organize!


Thank you for registering for the SV Tour De Coop 2015!

Already over 110 folks have registered for the coop tour in September but room for many, many more!

But we need your help now! We need coops for the tour and your help to get the word out about the tour.

So please.. help promote back yard chickens in Silicon Valley by

1) Inviting your friends and families to join you on the tour!
2) Any friends with coops, invite them to offer their coop for the tour!

Want to get more involved?  Another organizer meeting is schedule for March 31 in Mountain View CA.  Sign up as an organizer to get more information.

Call for coops and volunteers/organizers  –

If you wish to offer your coop on the tour or help organize, please register for the  Coop tour 2015 Organizers and Coopster eventbright ticket.



The 2015 Tour De Coop already has businesses, and individuals on board to help promote the tour and expand tours into new cities like San Mateo, even Oakland!!  With the format of our providing individual coop tour routes and maps, the tour can expand to include even more Silicon Valley neighboring cities.

Complete information and registration for organizing and participating are always available on the website at:



Any ideas or questions?  Feel free to contact the SV tour de coop folks at svTourDeCoop@gmail.com.


Keep Clucking!

SV Tour De Coop

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Coop Tour 2014 Weekly Blog

SV Coop Tour Countdown –

116 Days until Coop Day!



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Blog 2014

Here is the 2014 Tour Blog

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