Wednesday, August 18, 2010

California Chicken Laws

In case someone else needs to benefit from the research I have been gathering, here is a list of different codes and laws regarding backyard chickens in California. I put *'s by the ones I like the best and hope to get our ordinance worded in a similar fashion.

California Chicken Laws:

Albany, CA. Allows residents to keep up to 6 hens (no roosters) in their backyard with a permit.

American Canyon, CA. Must keep your chicken coop in the back yard, and 50 ft. away from other houses or dwellings where people reside.

Anaheim, CA. * I found two different versions of code for this city. One: any number of hens allowed with a permit. Two: can keep 3 chickens on a 5,000 sq.ft. lot, 6 chickens on a 10,000 sq.ft. lot.

*Bakersfield, CA. Municipal code 6.08.010: Any chickens must be "kept securely enclosed in a yard or pen at all times."

*Belmont, CA: Up to 20 hens (no roosters over 4 months old) confined in a clean coop.

*Berkely, CA. Chickens must be kept penned and 30 ft. away from any bedrooms.

Campbell, CA. Not more than six animals in all, including hares, rabbits, guinea pigs, feline, bovine, sheep, goat, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons, game birds, or other fowl or any combination thereof.

Chula Vista, CA: Up to 12 chickens are permitted on a minimum of 7,000 square feet of land, up to 25, on land where one family occupies one home. An enclosure is required, but must be no closer than 50 feet from neighboring homes.

Davis, CA. A total of not more than six chicken hens and you have to keep them penned no less than 40 ft. from neighboring houses.

Del Mar, CA: No ordinance regarding raising chickens. City officials refer to county codes, if necessary.

Downey, CA. Up to five chickens allowed per lot.

El Cajon, CA. Allows up to 24 adult poultry on lots over 20,000 sq ft in residential zones.

*Encinitas, CA: Up to 10 chickens are permitted in all residential areas. More allowed on larger lots. Coops must be no closer than 35 feet of neighboring homes.

Folsom, CA. Not more than any combination of two chickens, ducks, pigeons and rabbits shall be kept within any zoning district of the city other than agricultural or agricultural combining districts; and said animals shall be kept or maintained at least twenty feet from any property line.

Imperial Beach, CA. The municipal code says no, but a feed store estimates around 500 chickens are kept as pets.

Irvine, CA. Two chickens max. allowed, kept in a sanitary, odor free enclosure. No roosters are allowed.

Lemon Grove, CA: Up to three chickens are permitted, in enclosures, in certain residential areas. One chicken per 1,000 square feet, up to 25 are permitted in other residential areas. Coops must be no closer than 20 feet from neighboring homes.

Lakewood, CA. It appears Lakewood says residents can have up to 5 female fowl.

La Puente, CA. Up to 20 chickens allowed for each ten thousand sq. feet of lot area in residential zones.

Lafayette, CA. Residents can keep approximately 4 chickens.

Long Beach CA. The law is 1 chicken with a 20 feet setback restriction. Twenty chickens are allowed with a 50 feet setback restriction from single and two-family dwellings, and a 100 feet setback restriction from hotels or multiple (3+) family dwellings. This is virtually impossible in a city like Long Beach.

*Los Angeles, CA. Number of chickens you can keep is unlimited. Chickens may not be within 20 feet of owner's residence, and must be at least 35 feet from any other dwelling.

Los Altos, CA. 1 hen per 1,000 square feet of lot space. No restrictions on coop location. No roosters.

Mission Viejo, CA. You are allowed up to two chickens, and roosters are not allowed. But city code 9.59.115-1 says no chickens allowed.

Mountain View, CA. Up to 4 hens without a permit. Keep 25 ft. from residences. Within 25 ft. is o.k. with written consent from residences. No roosters.

*Oakland, CA. Keep chicken enclosed, & 20 ft. from any dwelling, church or school.

Oceanside, CA: Up to six chickens are permitted in residential areas, but they must be 35 feet from neighboring houses.

Petaluma, CA. Up to twenty animals of mixed combination. Chickens must be kept five feet from a neighbor’s fence or property line, and they must be kept 20 ft. from neighboring dwellings.

Poway, CA. If your property is at least a 6,000 sq.ft. lot, you can keep up to six hens. Must keep chickens 35 feet from neighbors. Don’t have your chicken house in any of the set-backs.

Redwood City, CA. Maximum of 3 chickens permitted; roosters were recently outlawed.

Roseville, CA. Maximum 10 chickens kept 20 ft. from any property line &/or building. They don't delineate hens or roosters.

Santa Rosa, CA. Livestock is not permitted here, unless your area is zoned *rural.* May have 25 chickens per 20,000 square feet. No chickens in residential areas zoned R1, R2 or PRC. People keep chickens in this town; just that it is technically illegal to do so.

Sacramento, CA. Except for a few areas specifically spelled out in code, keeping chickens is not allowed in Sacramento.

Sacramento County, CA. As long as your yard is 10,000 square feet or more, you can keep chickens.

San Carlos, CA. Can keep a total number of four (4) poultry.

San Jose, CA. 1-4 chickens must be kept 15 feet from neighboring structures. 4-6 chickens must be kept 20 feet away. A permit is required if you keep more than 6 chickens. In any area zoned *residential,* only hens are permitted; no roosters.

San Diego, CA. Currently undergoing debates in the city council, trying to get chickens to be legal in this city.

San Francisco, CA. Up to four chickens allowed. Up to four small animals total. Keep 20 feet from doors or windows in a coop or enclosure of approved type.

San Jose, CA: Up to 6 chickens at least 20 ft. from residences. Up to 4 chickens 15 ft. away from residences. 0 less than 15 ft. No roosters.

San Leandro, CA. No livestock of any kind shall be keep within the
city limits. But people are currently and actively working on a civic project to get the law reworded to allow chickens and bee-keeping, so hop on board with them.

San Mateo, CA. Keeping chickens requires a permit here. Up to 10 hens per household. Chickens must be kept in an appropriate pen/coop.

Temple City, CA. Basically it allows two hens per property, but no roosters.

*Vallejo, CA. You are allowed to keep up to 25 chickens if they are kept 15 ft. from neighboring dwellings. Roosters are allowed but subject to noise nuisance violations.

*Woodland, CA. It is OK to keep up to 6 hens provided they are kept over 40 ft. from neighboring residences.

Vista, CA: Two chickens are permitted in certain single-family residential areas, and up to 25 in other areas.

Sources: (also summarizes laws in other states) I found a similar list in the forum at that had a few cities that were not in the first so I added them.


  1. I live in San Leandro and would love to join the efforts to let folks keep chickens and bees. Can you forward info on who's active in that cause?

  2. Do you have any info on Gilroy? I keep hearing that they are legal, but the ordinances haven't been updated.

  3. Jessi, I found this on a forum and cut and pasted. I can't *know* that it's accurate but it's a good place to start your research!

    Here's some background information on the small animal ordinance that was recently passed in Gilroy.

    The ordinance was passed in early February by a 5-2 vote, and limits the number of small animals under 24 inches tall that residents can own. The ordinance also limits the number of small animals like rabbits, chickens, pigeons, turkeys, peacocks and other legal birds to six per resident.

    Here's some additional info. Look under "New Business"

    The issue of regulating chickens and other small animals was originally brought to the council in the fall:

    I hope this info is helpful! Gilroy Patch is another local news hub for Gilroy residents.
    We've been around for a little over a year, so locals are still learning about us. Here's the website URL:

    If you have any questions about the site, please pass them on! And now that I know this forum exists, I'll make sure to post updates about anything chicken related :)

    And, if any of you are on Facebook, please check out our Facebook page. You'll receive our regular updates in your news feed if you "like" the Gilroy Patch Facebook page:

    We tweet all of our updates as well:!/GilroyPatch

    Have a wonderful Sunday!!

    - Corinne

  4. please include: Morgan Hill, Ca 95037

  5. I looked at Backyard Chickens forums and didn't see anything. Sorry! You might want to call local feed stores and ask other chicken owners. You could also call the city animal control department and ask. Ask animal control for the specific codes and make sure what they tell you is right. They are known to just say 'no' when there isn't an actual ordinance to back them up.


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