Chickens and turkeys in the middle of Silicon Valley

For a long time, Sunnyvale (the city we live in), had specific rules about chickens.  You were allowed four total.  Regardless of lot or coop size- four was the max.  Recently, there have been some changes to the city ordinances regarding backyard chickens.  You are no longer limited to an arbitrary number, but rather the number of chickens that you can keep depends on a number of factors- including lot size, coop size, distance from dwellings (yours and your neighbors) and your ability to keep them from becoming a "nuisance". I looked at the ordinances and pulled out the ones that specifically referred to backyard animals.

6.04.090. Livestock. “Livestock” includes all domesticated bovine, equine, caprine, ovine, avian and rodent species. (Ord. 1628-71 § 2; prior code § 5-1.101(h)).

This one is pretty basic.  According to the law, livestock includes cows, horses, goats, sheep, birds, pigs and rodents.  

6.16.015. Nuisances by animals. (b) It is unlawful for any person to keep any rabbits, chickens, pigeons, hogs or pigs or goats, or cows or any animal or any fowl or birds in any pen, building, yard or enclosure within the city, in such a manner that the same becomes or is a nuisance.

So here is where it gets a little tricky.  Any animal you keep can be declared a "nuisance" if it is too noisy, smelly, attracts pests or otherwise bothers someone enough to report it.  So theoretically if your neighbor is bothered by the chickens (or just plain doesn't like you) they can make a call to the city and an animal control officer will come out to visit. Now if you are keeping the coop clean and the birds healthy you shouldn't have a problem. That said, an occasional half-dozen eggs can go a long way towards friendly neighbor relations and keep the complaints quiet.  Roosters are not specifically forbidden, but are a surefire way to invite complaints from your neighbors.

6.16.090. Animals near residences. It is unlawful for any person to pen, enclose, or otherwise confine, any chicken, duck, pigeon, or any other bird or fowl, within twenty-five feet of an inhabited residence without the written consent of the occupant of such residence. It is unlawful for any person to stake, tie, or otherwise confine, any animal, except a dog, within two hundred feet of an inhabited residence, without the written consent of the occupant of such residence. (Ord. 1628-71 § 2; prior code § 5-1.409).

This has to do with distance from your home (and your neighbors home).  Basically, 25 feet is the rule.  Other building ordinances that aren't listed also apply.  These ordinances are the same for any building or shed that you might put up in your yard.

If you have more questions, click here to contact Pirate Jenny who will be happy to answer all of your chicken related questions.  

Some specifics

Basically says that you must keep your animals in such a way that they are safe, healthy and well cared for.  

6.20.030. Regulations. Every person within the city who owns, conducts, manages or operates any animal establishments for which a permit is required by this title shall comply with each of the following conditions:

  1. No animal establishment shall be operated or maintained in violation of any of the provisions of Title 19 of this code;
  2. Housing facilities for all animals shall be structurally sound and shall be maintained in good repair to protect animals from injury and restrict entrance of other animals;
  3. All animals and all animal buildings or enclosures shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition;
  4. All animals shall be supplied with sufficient good and wholesome food and water as often as the feeding habits of the respective animals require;
  5. Animal buildings and enclosures shall be so constructed and maintained as to prevent the escape of animals;
  6. All reasonable precautions shall be taken to protect the public from the animals and the animals from the public;
  7. Every building or enclosure wherein animals are maintained shall be properly ventilated to prevent drafts and to remove odors. Heating and cooling shall be provided as required according to the physical needs of the animals;
  8.  All animal rooms, cages and runs shall be of sufficient size to provide adequate and proper housing for animals kept therein;
  9. All animal runs shall be of concrete and provided with adequate drainage into an approved sewer or individual sewer disposal installation;
  10. All animals shall be taken to a licensed veterinarian for examination and treatment if so ordered by the administrator;
  11.  Every violation of an applicable regulation shall be corrected within a reasonable time to be specified by the administrator. (Ord. 2451-93 § 8; Ord. 1780-75 § 5; Ord. 1628-71 § 2, 1971; prior code § 5-1.503).

 

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