Make room for chickens

City should allow backyard hens

We’ve gotten many responses to our Newslines story last week about the Schreiber family and their effort to keep their outlaw chickens, Bert and Ernie (“The plight of backyard chickens,” by Melissa Daugherty). The clear consensus is that the Chico ordinance requiring an expensive permit for hens is unfair and outdated.

Why, people ask, is it so easy to keep dogs—which, after all, can be major nuisances—and so difficult to keep hens, which are quiet and harmless and, best of all, lay eggs? And why is it that people on the county side of the street can keep hens, while those on the city side can’t (unless they’re willing to fork out between $1,400 and $2,800 for a permit)?

Chico likes to think of itself as a progressive city that embraces sustainability and organic gardening and all that good stuff. Well, what about homegrown eggs? Not only are they healthful, they’re also a good way to save money in these difficult times.

The City Council and Planning Commission are meeting jointly June 22 to discuss the general-plan update, with a focus on land use and sustainability. As Mayor Ann Schwab has said, this would “the perfect time” to bring up the issue of making it easier to keep backyard hens.

We encourage all those who are interested in this issue to attend the meeting and let council members know what you think.