After a public hearing on May 19 lead by Hanford Police Chief Parker Sever, the city council voted 5-0 to allow residents to raise chickens within city limits.
The change in ordinance came at the request of several citizens who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Lemoore. This is the second attempt by the city council to allow chickens since 2010, when the ordinance change was voted down. Visalia voted down allowing chickens inside its city after a very contentious meeting in June of in 2015.
But times have changed and Hanford staff recommended the city council approve the change to the ordinance. Their intent was to support a sustainable food system by providing an affordable, nutritious source of protein through the production of fresh eggs. “The changes made were designed to ensure our residents are responsibly raising the chickens they acquire with minimal impact to adjoining properties.”
According to the city’s newly rewritten Animal Ordinance, residents will be able to raise three chickens so long as they are kept in a coop and follow the mandatory five-foot setbacks. Residents will be required to keep the coops in their back yard, keep them clean, and store the feed in an enclosed container. They will not be able to slaughter their chickens within the city limits and roosters are prohibited.
Three people spoke in opposition during the public hearing.
Abe Nobel was concerned that residents will not realize that roosters and chickens are different and that the new ordinance will encourage cock fighting. Sever said that Animal Control will remove any roosters from residents once they are alerted.
July Scott said that “chickens stink really bad” and she does not want her neighbors having them. “That’s why I live in the city.”
The next speaker agreed and added that Animal Control will be flooded with calls and pit neighbor against neighbor.
Sever said that code enforcement and the police department receive very few calls right now concerning chickens and that those people who are going to violate the city codes will do so with or without a new animal ordinance. He added that he called Lemoore Police Department and that it hasn’t been a significant issue.
Council member Martin Devine reminded those who are against the ordinance that, since the pandemic hit, egg prices have the biggest increase at 38%.
Mayor John Draxler and Council Member Art Brieno expressed the importance of Hanford kids having a place to raise chickens so they can learn the responsibility of taking care of an animal and be able to show their chickens at the county fair.
Council member Sue Sorensen said that she recalled the same conversation eight years ago and that you can only please half the people. She reiterated that if the new ordinance creates a problem the city can always go back and review it but said that most people will not even know their neighbor is raising chickens.
Sorensen said that it was time to give the community the opportunity to grow their own food, and she hoped the new ordinance would be successful.