BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Backyard hens are now allowed for most homeowners within the Bakersfield City limits after council members voted 4 to 3 in a meeting held Wednesday night.
Those in single-family homes can only have up to 12 total chickens.
The scaled number of hens a home is allowed to have is dependent on the property lot size and the distance to other buildings.
Before the vote, many community members spoke out asking the council to stop, delay, or to re-evaluate the ordinance due to health concerns revolving around diseases or noise complaints.
"We have to think about our entire community, not someone who has a personal need or a personal opinion that a chicken in their backyard is going to improve their lifestyle," one community member said at the meeting.
Ronda Newport, president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors, says this ordinance is a zoning issue and needs more vetting. She says this move could devalue homes.
"That is a disclosure issue and that is something that sellers will have to disclose when they do to sell their home. That could be a marketability issue when you're showing a property and there are hens next door. Up to 12 hens in our one 6,000 square foot lot is a lot of hens in the City of Bakersfield," said Newport.
There were provisions put into place by the council. All coops must be kept clean and odor-free and noisy roosters are not allowed.
"I'm one of the hen people. I appreciate family reaction and healthy living and if a family wants to raise their own hens, why would we say no?" said Councilmember Jacquie Sullivan, who voted in favor of the hens,
Others in favor of the ordinance saying hens make great household pets. They say its the positivity needed during this pandemic.