The Salt Lake City Council is currently considering a proposed ordinance relating to the keeping of chickens in Salt Lake City. Wasatch Community Gardens would like to commend the City Council for their efforts to make urban chicken keeping available to more Salt Lake City residents. However, we propose the following amendments to the proposed ordinance, to help the city better achieve their stated goal.
Wasatch Community Gardens would also like to encourage members of the public to review the ordinance, make their own comments to the Salt Lake City Council, and attend the public hearing on Nov. 5, at the City and County Building, 451 S. State Street, Room 315, at 7 p.m. The proposed ordinance is available for review on the City Council website at: http://www.slcgov.com/council/
Wasatch Community Gardens Statement of Position
This proposed ordinance, as currently written, does not achieve its stated objective of allowing more Salt Lake City residents to raise chickens. There are two primary problematic elements of the ordinance.
Recommendation #1: Reduce setback requirement from neighbors’ dwelling
The Council’s proposed ordinance requires that residents keep chickens in a coop that is located 50 feet from the nearest neighbor’s dwelling and 25 feet from the owner’s dwelling. This requirement will prevent many Salt Lake City residents from owning chickens due to the close proximity of a neighbor’s dwelling, making the geometry unworkable. For example, in order for a chicken owner to keep her chickens 25 feet away from her own dwelling while keeping her chickens 50 feet from the nearest neighbor, her nearest neighbor’s home would have to be at least 43 feet away from the owner’s home because of the geometric equation. Because many homes in Salt Lake City are not 43 feet away from one another, Wasatch Community Gardens proposes that the ordinance be amended to allow chickens to be kept 25 feet from both the owner’s and neighbor’s dwellings.
Recommendation #2: Drop sliding scale lot size restriction; allow 15 or 25 chickens
Under current law, the number of chickens allowed per residents is 25. In the proposed ordinance, the number of chickens would be restricted on a sliding scale based on lot size. This proposed sliding scale would restrict many residents to only four chickens. Anyone on a lot smaller than 0.11 acres would be prohibited from having any chickens at all. Lots in older Salt Lake City neighborhoods such as the lower Avenues have many lots this size or smaller. Wasatch Community Gardens recommends that a resident who keeps her chickens 25 feet to 50 feet away from both her own dwelling and her neighbor’s dwelling be allowed to keep up to 15 chickens. A resident who keeps her chickens 50 feet away from both her own dwelling and her neighbor’s dwelling should be allowed to maintain the current limit of 25 chickens. Lot size restrictions should be dropped entirely. Most residents already only keep a few chickens, but those who are fanciers or have the capability to own more should be allowed to do so.
Rationale for this Position
Wasatch Community Gardens supports the stated goal of the proposed urban chicken ordinance, which is to allow more Salt Lake City residents to raise chickens. We agree with the Salt Lake City Council’s statement that raising chickens and farming close to home benefits our community by “reducing carbon emissions, providing an inexpensive source of natural/organic foods, as well as securing food supply in the event of an emergency.”
Wasatch Community Gardens believes that the two changes we have outlined above will allow the City to better achieve their stated goal.
A Call to Action
Wasatch Community Gardens is encouraging members of the public to voice their comments on the proposed ordinance to the Salt Lake City Council prior to the hearing on Nov. 5. The contact information for submitting comments is as follows:
Salt Lake City Council
451 S. State Street, Room 304
P.O. Box 145476
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-5476
24- Hr Comment Line: (801) 535-7654
We also encourage attendance at the public hearing on this proposal. It will be held at the City and County Building, 451 S. State Street, Room 315, at 7 p.m. on November 5th.