Chickens don’t have to fly the coop 

Having chickens is the new trend in sustainability for San Mateo County.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved ordinance amendments that would allow the keeping of domestic poultry in unincorporated county areas.

While residents in many county cities, including Daly City, are authorized to own domestic poultry, those in unincorporated areas are not covered by the ordinances because of the 1992 County Ordinance Code.

The suggestion to amend district zoning came after a 2009 incident involving a complaint about a rooster in Emerald Lake Hills, project manager Tiare Pena said. The code stated that chickens were not allowed in the area, and residents questioned why domestic poultry were excluded from certain areas.

“This is about sustainability,” Pena said. “People want to provide their families with homegrown foods, and residents in unincorporated areas want that chance, too.”

The Planning Department was asked to review regulations in neighboring jurisdictions to determine whether domestic poultry should be allowed in residentially zoned districts like Emerald Lake Hills. On Tuesday, Planning Department staff presented the proposed amendments as part of a public hearing.

The amendments will extend domestic poultry regulations to those in unincorporated San Mateo County. Depending on the size of their land, residents who want chickens will face limits on how many they can have.

“On land parcels between 2,500 and 7,500 square feet, the maximum number of chickens or roosters is six. But on parcels over 7,500 square feet, the maximum is 10,” Pena said.

Supervisor Adrienne Tissier is concerned about the sanitation and enforcement issues that come along with allowing residents to keep domestic poultry.

“What happens should refuse get into any kind of water system?” Tissier asked. “Also, are we really going to have the resources to enforce these ordinances or failure to comply?”

With every department making cutbacks to staff, some are concerned about where sanitation enforcement will come from. The Planning Department and Animal Control are said to be involved, according to a recent staff report, Tissier said.

“There are still open questions that need to be resolved before this can be enforced,” Tissier said.

Counting chickens

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is considering allowing chickens at residences in unincorporated areas.

Proposed poultry limits in unincorporated areas:
6: Maximum allowed on parcels of 2,500 to 7,500 square feet
10: Maximum allowed on parcels more than 7,500 square feet

Current chicken allowances in cities:

Menlo Park (per quarter-acre): 50
Atherton (2 or more acres): 40
Woodside (per lot): 25-50
Belmont: 20
Burlingame: 12
San Mateo (with permit): 10
Brisbane: 4
Millbrae: 4
San Carlos: 4
Redwood City: 3
Half Moon Bay: 2 (3 or more with permit)
Pacifica*: 2 (3 or more with permit)
Daly City: 2
Undefined: Colma*, Portola Valley

*Roosters allowed

Source: San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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