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Mayor Asks City Council to Consider Allowing More Chicken Coops in Santee

Mayor Randy Voepel is pushing for urban agriculture within Santee. In order to do that, however, the City Council will first need to decide if they want to put the matter up to a vote.

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.

Bill Howell June 06, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Randy, I appreciate the thought behind it, but this is just a bad idea. Not only the noise, but the smell will get out of hand in no time. The nicest person in the world sometimes gets just too busy to clean up when it's necessary. Ever driven by Hilliker's on a warm day? Chickens also attract flies, coyotes and raccoon.
Hooray for Chicken June 06, 2011 at 09:51 PM
Hooray for Chickens, This is a long time coming. the way the world is going we will all need to keep chickens for fresh eggs (protein) and soon we'll all have to turn our yards to a garden too.
Alan Stuart June 06, 2011 at 09:52 PM
I received a letter saying I had to remove my chickens after my neighbor complained about them (revenge for the restraining order I suppose) but I don't want to get rid of them so I started a petition and got all my neighbors (except one) to sign it. This is great news!! I thought I would be working alone on changing the laws but now I know I am joining a winning battle.
Hooray for Chicken June 06, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Randy, I had chickens here in Santee for over 5 years. The neighbors love that we share the extra Fresh eggs. We use the poop to fertilize our garden which smells a lot less than the steer manure you buy at home depot. the chickens keep the bugs population down. they love pincher bugs that we don't have around anymore:) We built a great coop that anyone interested in seeing that would like to have chicken is more than welcome.
Alan Stuart June 06, 2011 at 10:15 PM
the one that didn't sign is the one with the restraining order on him. I figure after he throw rocks at my house and broke my windows two sunday's in a row I best not ask him...
Alan Stuart June 06, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Chickens Are Not Smelly Chickens themselves do not smell. Any possible odor would come from their droppings, but 6 hens generate less manure than one medium-sized dog. The typical chicken keeper is also a gardener, and, unlike the feces of dogs and cats – which carry pathogens and cannot be composted – chicken droppings present an excellent source of free organic fertilizer when composted. Unsanitary conditions can result in a buildup of ammonia in large-scale operations, which is why commercial poultry facilities often smell. This is not the case for small backyard flocks. Also, if the chicken keeper is not a composter or gardener they can easily just toss the manure right into their Waste Management green bin. Chickens are Not Messy Chicken enclosures used in city and urban settings tend to be attractive and are easily maintained. Small flocks are managed with a minimum of time and energy on the part of their owners. Chickens Are Not Noisy Hens are quiet birds. Roosters, not chickens, are known for loud morning crowing and roosters are not necessary for the production of eggs. The occasional clucking of hens is generally not audible beyond 25 feet. Some hens give a few squawks while actually laying an egg or to announce it afterward but this noise is very short-lived and much quieter than barking dogs, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, passing trucks, children playing, and other common neighborhood sounds.
Alan Stuart June 06, 2011 at 10:21 PM
"Hooray For Chickens" is correct. Six chickens will produce less waste then one medium sized dog in a day and most people who raise chickens are also gardeners so that waste is being added to compost not left to attack flies. Those that don't garden can put it in the green bin. I've had more problems with my neighbors not cleaning up after their dogs!
Alan Stuart June 06, 2011 at 10:21 PM
Roosters are loud, hens are not.
Christal Ferris June 06, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Now, I'm thinking of getting a chicken. Must add this to my to-do list.
Patty Mason June 06, 2011 at 10:43 PM
I didn't know it wasn't permitted. I've already got TWO neighbors with chickens. I don't know how they keep other critters from trying to barge in and eat them though.
Chelsea Sauer June 06, 2011 at 10:46 PM
Hooray for Chickens, you are absolutely right! This is the future: localized meat and produce, as local as your own backyard!! Hooray for sustainability. And they taste so much better fresh :-) This world does not need to be so sterile and quiet. Besides, the chickens you buy from the supermarket are so much more disgusting and dirty, you just don't see it first hand because they've been washed in chemicals before you purchase them. We can stand a little noise and mess in exchange for fresh, humanely raised, clean, organic chickens!
Ken June 06, 2011 at 11:49 PM
If you bake with fresh eggs they produce so much more flavor. The yokes are a deep yellow and any cook will tell you the same. if you want to see how store bought eggs and Chickens are prepared for you and other food items go rent "Food Inc." It will change how you eat. There are other movies too that our FDA takes bribes and let bad meat pass to the consummer. Be aware.
Ken June 06, 2011 at 11:58 PM
I hear dogs barking all night, Cats meowing and fighting throughout the night and what do these animals provide for food? I hear the crows crowing every morining that wakes me up. A chicken will make noise when it feels threaten. They will also let you know when they lay an egg. " Breakfast is ready." They sleep through the night and eat all the pest in the yard.
Patricia Berg June 07, 2011 at 01:12 AM
NO THANK YOU !!! I am surrounded by neighbors' animals---10 dogs to be exact---all of which bark constantly. The egg farm is right on the Santee/Lakeside border, and it's been here for years. Go ask THOSE neighbors how they like living near chickens. Besides, We can get fresh eggs there !! I realize 6 hens does not make an egg farm, but during hot weather, I already smell the p**p from 10 dogs. Don't need to add to it.
Santee MOM June 07, 2011 at 04:05 AM
I would love to see your chicken coop....good points people are making about the smell - I would rather smell (which apparently I woudn't due to low odor) my neighbors chicken smell coming from their yard than the cat and dog crap that is in my side yard where the cats go (since the coyotes didn't eat them yet) and people don't clean up after their dogs. I have thought of getting Chickens, the coops for sale out there are a bit pricey.....I know building one must be a lot cheaper.
Ken June 07, 2011 at 04:24 PM
If you would have Alan's comments above you would have notice chickens themselves don't smell. I have six chickens and the only thing I smell is the one (1) DOGS poop a neighbor has and it's potent. Chicken poop can be composted which I do. The dogs in the neighbors yards just seem to keep piling up and smells worst each day. As Alan also mentioned above unsanitary conditions of large scale operation often smell because of a build up of ammonia. The Santee/Lakeside residents knew the ranch was there when they bought a home there. That smell NOT the case in backyard conditions. Ten dogs, I go nuts with just the two I hear barking all night. Listen to this guy Alan he seems very informed and knowledgeable on this subject.
Ken June 07, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Ever notice why "Farmer's Markets" are getting more popular? No one trusses the FDA is protecting bad meat & produce from reaching the consumer. Most of our food comes from foreign countries now. I think it's great that we can go back to our roots and grow our own food in our yards and have chickens for fresh eggs every day. Time for the rest of the people to wake up and see this is a necessity in today's world.
Ken June 07, 2011 at 04:30 PM
There very easy to take care of and a joy to watch.
Alan Stuart June 07, 2011 at 05:00 PM
Hey Patricia, I'm sorry to hear that you live next to 10 noisy dogs and there owners don't clean up. But dogs and chickens aren't the same animal. One medium sized dog poops more in one day then six chickens will and chicken poop (if left not picked up over a day or two, which is a bad practice anyways) dries super quick and has no smell. Furthermore chickens are quiet animals that spend there days bathing in the dirt and eating not barking. And yes you can go to the chicken farm and yeah it smells there but that's because its a chicken farm! they have tons of chickens all caged up pooping in a concentrated area. If allowed to walk around chickens poop will act more like a fertilizer then a problem. Chickens aren't loud, they don't smell, they don't attract other animals (if cooped up properly). It seems that you have a problem with a neighbor who can't take care of dogs and you are taking it out on people who wish to raise chickens and be fiscally independent and sustainably.
Brian Hanifin June 07, 2011 at 05:07 PM
I recall there being lots of flys and fleas coming from the chicken yard. This is my memories from childhood, so if this is an incorrect assumption on my part I would reconsider my opposition.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) June 07, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Forgot to mention, if you've got chickens, please upload some photos of them to this story. It might give people a better idea of what is being discussed.
Jean June 07, 2011 at 08:12 PM
Good gracious no. What we don't need is more crap in Santee. There is a reason Hillikers has a sign on their fence stating: Warning. Notice to all surrounding properties. You will be affected by flies, odors, dust, noise and other irritants, inconveniences and disturbances from this existing egg ranch.......... It is one thing if you build a house or buy a house near a chicken ranch, dairy farm, race track, train track or airport with full knowledge that it exists. To come in after the fact and allow chickens with the associated smell and flies is ridiculous. Santee can't enforce their laws now re barking dogs, weeds, junk in the driveway, non-ops on the street, storage on the street of boats, trailers, RV's. What luck would one have if the smell and flies became a problem I can tell you. None!
Patricia Berg June 07, 2011 at 11:26 PM
Thank you !
Patricia Berg June 07, 2011 at 11:32 PM
We already have coyotes running down our street at night---yes we see them often-----raccoons, opposums, in our yard. We also have red tailed hawks walking on our brick wall trying to get to the songbirds in our tree. I have enough wildlife, thank you. And I agree, some of the existing laws are not being enforced. The mayor says he wants Santee to be the La Jolla of east county. Well I can tell you right now, no one in La Jolla would have chickens in a residential area.
Mark Gorden June 08, 2011 at 03:44 AM
Absolutely!!! I think in the R-2 zoning area (North of Mast BLVD between Cuyamuca and Magnolia) should have a 4 hen limit, No roosters! You don't need a rooster to enjoy the eggs. I personally think the bread of bird is very important, cretin breads of are more prone to aggressive and vocal behavior. You cant go wrong with the beautiful Black Australorp, which are sold here in Santee at the feed store. Chances are, if you think your neighbors not fit for raising chickens your probably right. Not to worry, the birds will be consumed by the wildlife shortly in short order,
Alan Stuart June 08, 2011 at 04:35 PM
Jean & Patricia, Hillikers is a small factory farm (CAFO, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) there place attacks flies and smells because they have a lot of birds pooping in one area. A backyard operation (which I have had for almost six years) does not ever smell nor does it attack flies anymore then dog poop. Backyard chickens are aloud to move, walk around dig and scratch so their droppings are dropped not in just one spot. They also dry up really fast (great fertilizer) dry chicken poop doesn't smell or attract flies. Furthermore, I live right by that hill that just burnt which if you walk in you can walk to Poway and the Sycamore Canyon Preserve and even all the way to Iron Mountain off the 67, its a big open space! We never have problems with raccoons trying to get it. I've seen coyotes all the way down by the 711 on Carlton Hills and Halburns/Carlton Oaks but never in my yard!! My backyard doesn't smell the house kitty corner to mine however is another story they have dogs and don't clean up.. maybe your solution to that is banning dogs? do not punish people who wish to live in a personal, neighborhood and community sustainable way, that is also fiscally responsible because of the rising price of food. Food prices are set to quadruple in the next decade.
Alan Stuart June 08, 2011 at 04:39 PM
La Jolla (outside of La Jolla Shores area) uses The City of San Diego zoning regulations so they can in fact have chickens in La Jolla..sorry to tell you that.
Alan Stuart June 08, 2011 at 04:42 PM
No roosters is always the case, and understandably so
Melonie June 09, 2011 at 08:07 AM
http://www.10news.com/news/28178420/detail.html Pretty funny that both the chickens and medical marijuana were on the Santee Council's agenda for today. Channel 10's headline should have read: "Santee Considers Allowing 'Herb'an Chicken Farming" Ba Dun Bump shiiii!
Smarty Pants August 12, 2011 at 11:06 PM
I love that comment Melonie! The real reason for this re thinking is so a few illegal peckers can stay in the City. Noise complaints have been filed for the flockers. as for the fugitive birds. Arrest are pending. O.K. enough fun... These are farm animals. Something you expect in Ramona or perhaps our neighbor Lake Side. Not in our neighbors back yard in the City of Santee. Where the homes are so close to one another. The City of Santee has an ordinance that make sense for our community at large. I believe the counsel will see that. The are not that daffed to thing that back yard farming will make The City of Santee a better place. Or feed the multitudes. Perhaps if we allow the pot in we could all deal with our neighbors better or just not care about the noise they make. Can you use pot to season chicken? Like basil?

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