A rooster in each yard? Not within the R-1 zone, explains Bakersfield Metropolis Council, repealing the ordinance on yard hens

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Back in September, Bakersfield City Council voted to allow residents to raise chickens in their backyards – a move many California cities have taken. Wednesday night the council overturned the chicken ordinance by 4: 3 votes – the same vote that originally enacted it.

Backyard shift advocates had been thrilled four and a half months ago when the city council voted 4-3 to allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards – and some of those supporters were buying birds and chicken coops before the ordinance officially went into effect.

Well, not that fast.

An organization called Citizens for the Preservation of R-1 Zones filed a lawsuit less than a month later alleging the city was in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and asking the city to prevent the new ordinance from law will.

In response, the Council unanimously voted to postpone the implementation of the regulation until further investigation.

The reckoning came on Wednesday evening. The city might have kept the ordinance, allowing people to keep chickens in most residential areas, killing the ordinance – or postponing it for further study.

They voted to kill it off completely.

Two of the four council members, Jacquie Sullivan and Willie Rivera, who cast yes-votes to that decision September 4-3, are no longer on the city council, and although Rivera’s successor Eric Arias supported the ordinance, Sullivan’s neighbor and replacement Patty supported Gray, whom she had enthusiastically supported, did not.

Council members Chris Parlier, Ken Weir and Bruce Freeman cast the other votes against the regulation. Andrae Gonzales and Bob Smith were still in favor of allowing backyard hens.

Bill Descary, a former Bakersfield City Treasurer, said the ordinance fell short in several ways.

“The regulation is far too lax about setbacks – four chickens 10 feet from a residence or six chickens 15 feet from a residence,” he said. “We rely on code enforcement to enforce this regulation and they are three short positions for budget reasons. The city is currently unable to take on this. “

Jennifer Clayton said such concerns were covered over. She said her birds are calm, clean and helpful in their household.

“The group that opposes this is the minority,” she said, “and if the city council is ready to listen to the minority for threatening to blackmail the city, then what do their constituents really say on matters that are important to us? ” ”

Many California cities have similar chicken ordinances on the books, and at least 19 of them have filed an exemption from the CEQA guidelines because backyard chickens, as these cities have determined, do not come under the CEQA umbrella. These are not projects that would cause “a direct physical change in the environment”.

But are the circumstances of these towns the same as Bakersfield? For now no ..

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