Chicken politics, and pavers for the people

Chicken D-day at City Council, and hens endorse Herrera; also, Habitat for Humanity’s Living Legacy Brick Program

“Keeping chickens has kind of upped our cool factor among some friends.”—Albuquerque, N.M., chicken owner Erin Radcliffe

Fight for the right
Oct. 19 is the date to show up at Chico City Council chambers to weigh in on the backyard-hen issue. The hot topic of amending the municipal code regarding easing exorbitant fees for chicken ownership is on the agenda for Tuesday evening.

To put things in perspective, many other cities across the U.S. have embraced the growing hen-raising movement. Seattle offers an affordable two-year chicken permit for $50. In Madison, Wisc., the fee is $10 annually for a maximum of four hens; in Ann Arbor, Mich., the fee for a five-year permit is $20 (four hens max); and Portland, Ore., allows residents to own up to three hens without any charge at all. Some cities—such as Biddeford, Maine; Mobile, Ala., and Nashua, N.H.—allow unlimited chickens without a permit. Even the city of San Francisco allows four hens without a permit. In comparison, Chico’s current fees to own a hen are positively draconian—from $1,416 for home owners to a whopping $2,799 for renters (plus $185 in additional fees).

I know for a fact that there are many more chickens in Chico than some folks may realize. I’ve been told on a number of occasions to keep so-and-so’s ownership of chickens on the low-pro, for fear of Code Enforcement slapping them with a request for unaffordable fees. Even City Councilman Jim Walker ’fessed up recently to clandestine chicken ownership.

The city’s recent shift to “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is progress, but let’s take it a step further and allow chicken owners to come out of the closet and revel in their poultry-keeping without fear of financial punishment.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. See you there.

Hens for Herrera
Chico City Council candidate Mark Herrera was buzzing around my south-Chico neighborhood recently on his bicycle, handing out flyers and distributing his cheery, hand-painted, royal-blue “Herrera for Council” yard signs. The friendly organic farmer compares a healthy economy to a healthy farm—“you get what you put in,” as his flyer puts it. He aims to grow a strong, locally focused economy, preserve the Greenline and maintain vital infrastructures, such as libraries and schools.

Outgoing councilman and vice mayor (and outspoken chicken advocate) Tom Nickell went on record recently endorsing Herrera.

Referring to the ongoing debate about the costly fees for hen-keeping within city limits, I asked Herrera point-blank if he is “pro-chicken.” “Oh, yes!” he replied earnestly. Enough said.

Visit Herrera’s website:

Pavers for posterity
Habitat for Humanity of Butte County recently announced its new Living Legacy Brick Program, a fundraiser for its East 16th Street low-income, green subdivision in progress, Habitat Greens. A $125 donation will get you an attractive, personalized 8-by-8-inch brick set into the “walkway of donors” that will meander through the housing project. Besides your name, other possibilities for adorning a paver include the name of a loved one, your business’ name or some other special message. For a larger brick—12-by-12-inch—the requested donation is $500. Add a pre-selected symbol, such as a hammer or a heart, for an additional $25, or a business logo for $50. See for more info.