Tuesday, March 17, 2009

the future of urban chicken advocacy

Urban chicken lovers in the Denver area provide us a glimpse of the next front in urban chicken advocacy work: the streamlining of the process to obtain a permit for backyard hens.

There's a nice post by Joel Warner over on Westword that explores the issues confronting those in the Denver area who aren't just happy that urban chickens are legal (a struggle many of us are in the throes of now), but are trying to lower the barriers to getting the permits to keep their chickens.
"The current process for obtaining a chicken permit in Denver is cumbersome and expensive and I want to change the law not just for my own personal benefit but also for the good of the Denver community," says Denver lawyer and would-be chicken owner James Bertini. He's so annoyed over the complexities of obtaining permission to keep fowls and other kinds of livestock here that he's launched a movement to push city council to simplify the process.
I wish that municipalities would put simple processes on the books off the bat instead of creating byzantine bureaucracies to make getting a permit more difficult than getting a five-year-old hen to lay an egg.

I'm all for simplified processes, but I wonder if it's too high a hurdle to clear when first attempting to get urban chicken laws on the books? From watching things unfold in Durham and Longmont, it seems the room for compromise between NO and YES is meted out in the restrictions and permit process.

Should you aim for simplicity when trying to convince your Council to legalize urban chickens? Of course! But be prepared for push back, and be flexible (within limits) in adding restrictions to the urban chicken ordinance to give the nay-sayers some comfort that the town won't be overrun by peepers overnight.

Then once the shock and awe of urban chickens in backyards across town wears off, you can set about making the process to own urban chickens as easy as owning a cat or dog.


KatoChicks said...

And what do you do when you have a council with a range of opinion from 'chicken owners should face no more restrictions than dog owners' to 'those that want to own chickens should pay a $200 permit fee and the set back should be 150 feet from neighboring properties' (when a decent lot size here is 60' x 120')? That's what we are up against here in Mankato and are trying to find a middle ground that we can at least get a majority of the council to agree on.

For us, I think that getting an ordinance - any ordinance - passed is step one. After that we can work on tweaking it to better fit our needs/desires as we are able to show that chickens can easily fit into the fabric of life in our community without adverse effects and, in fact, many benefits.


Unknown said...

I would normally agree that we should be willing to compromise, to accept less than what we want (as urban chicken farmers), but 80 miles south of here, in Colorado Springs, the city only restricts home owners to 10 hens and no roosters (from what I've read) - which seems more than fair to me.
Also, why is it that my neighbors recently added two dogs to their yards who bark incessantly, but I never had to give my permission - but if I want a chicken or a duck, I get a sign in my yard giving my neighbors 30 days to object. Seems like the current city stance in Denver is designed to dissuade me from even trying to get a permit.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if anyone here has actually navigated the Durham laws, and if so, how did it go? I'd like to try but the sheer amount of paperwork (and sending permission letters to my neighbors!) is scaring me off.


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