Santee believes that more Santeeans would raise chickens if zoning laws allowed them to do so.
He has asked the City Council to consider voting to amend a law which governs animal regulations in residential districts of the city. If the Council agrees to consider the proposal, additional residents could soon have the option to keep a small number of chickens on their property.
The Council will vote at the as to whether to give the matter consideration. If approved, the item would be added to a future Council meeting agenda for a formal vote.
“Many citizens are keeping chickens these days because of the high cost at grocery stores and concerns about chemical additives and hormones,” Voepel wrote in a memo to the City Council. “Currently, chickens are not permitted in most residential zones, and I want to encourage in Santee by allowing our citizens to keep five or so chickens in a coop with the appropriate setbacks.”
Voepel further asserted that he is not looking to change zoning as it pertains to roosters, however, because they “they tend to drive people crazy,” he said.
Although a number of municipalities within the county allow for people to raise fowl, many times zoning ordinances only permit homes within more rural areas to do so.
Some believe that the ordinances are a bit too strict.
In 2009, La Mesa resident Jill Richardson began circulating a petition asking city officials make it legal for residents to raise up to six hens per single family residence homes. Earlier this year, residents of the city of San Diego began advocating for a similar change after two chickens living in a back yard coop in North Park were "forced into hiding" after city officials learned their presence.
Santee Associate City Planner Angela Reeder said that she’s aware of a growing urban chicken movement.
“People are going green, and chickens eat bugs in outdoor gardens which allow people not to use pesticides,” Reeder said. “Right now in Santee, though, our zoning ordinance only allows chickens to be raised in the HL and R-1 residential zones, which are lower-density residential areas.”
Voepel said that he wants to loosen the current regulation, which only permits one fowl to be kept within every 2,000 square feet of site area, and to allow for chicken coops to be installed, provided they are in a distance of no less than 50 feet from neighboring homes.
“Requiring a 50-foot setback will kill 70 to 80 percent of the homes in Santee because the houses are just too close together,” he said, furthering that those eligible for coops would be required to have a garden as a means of offsetting chicken waste.
“Because of an increasing interest in urban agriculture changing the ordinance to allow greater numbers of Santeeans to raise chickens, should they choose, seems like a cool thing to do,” Voepel said. “So I’ve put an item on the June 8 agenda to see if members of the City Council might want to pursue it. If they don’t [the idea] will die right there.”
If you would like to make your voice heard on this issue, come down to , fill out a public speaker slip and tell the Council what you think.