Redding Relaxes Backyard Chicken Restrictions


I’m not naming names, but some Redding residents may have violated city codes when they raised backyard chickens in modest suburban lots less than 20,000 square feet — spaces far smaller than the previously required half an acre for such fowl activities.

Backyard chickens were never an issue for Redding folks who had plenty of acreage. But city setback restrictions were in place to form a buffer between chicken coops and neighbors’ houses.

Tuesday, the Redding Planning Commission made Redding chicken-lovers cluck with joy when the commissioners recommended to ease restrictions that previously required more room for chicken-keeping than existed in many Redding neighborhoods — especially the older developments.

 For many years, it’s been a chicken-lovers’ Cinderella story: Sure, Cinderella, you may have backyard chickens. Only if you have half an acre and ample buffers between your chickens and your neighbors’ property. Oh, you don’t have acreage? No chickens for you.

Backyard chicken enthusiasts can thank the Redding Planning Commission members. They voted Tuesday afternoon to accept city staff’s recommendations to loosen previous set-back restrictions, which clucked disapprovingly at chickens raised in smaller spaces. The City Council will take a deciding vote on the issue later.

No segue, but in this photo, below, Lily and May Bartimioli, my twin’s adorable granddaughters, are seen here with some recent chick acquisitions. Look how small the chicks are. See how little space they take up? Hardly anything.



Kent Manuel, senior city planner, did an excellent job of explaining how staff arrived at the conclusion that we have nothing to fear but chicken fear itself.

OK, so Manuel didn’t speak of chicken fear, but he did address the fact that backyard chickens are growing in popularity across the country, and many progressive cities actually encourage backyard chickens. In fact, many communities, like Portland, hold annual Tour de Coops, an event that lets the public see some of the area’s best chicken coops.

At the heart of Redding’s issue was a conflict between two zoning laws — each of which governed setbacks, and breakdowns regarding how many chickens — or other animals — were allowed in how much space.

Basically, staff suggested an amendment to an existing code to allow up to six chickens on a lot that conforms to the following property setbacks from the chicken residence: Front, 15 feet; Interior side, 5 feet; street side, 15 feet; rear, 15 feet; distance to adjoining residence, 40 feet. Click here to read the city’s full chicken report.  By the way, staff said they’d work with those who had “hardship” situations; tiny yards that don’t comply with even the newly relaxed setbacks. 

Manuel spoke of how chickens provide people with the means to provide their own food, and how chickens could even fit into the city’s recently adopted Healthy Communities resolution.


Even so, surely, at some point the chicken debates must have tried planning commissioners’ souls. 

Sweet mother of God, the discussion eventually turned to such chicken minutia as chicken manure, and chicken noise (you can buy quiet birds), and one commissioner seemed especially interested in chicken disposal, which put Casey Shurig, the man whose letter started this whole chicken ball rolling, on the spot. 

Commissioner Chris Young point-blank asked Shurig what he does with dead chickens. This prompted Shurig’s reply/question: How does anyone get rid of a family pet, a dog, cat, whatever. A stand-off ensued, while in the audience someone whispered, “Dig a hole and bury it.”

Mention was made of a rendering plant in Red Bluff, which drew some gasps from the chicken lovers. The city attorney helpfully added that he believed Haven Humane Society would cremate nearly any animal for a modest fee. Duly noted.

Overall, the chicken talk was positive, with the exception of one speaker, a gentleman who described his misfortune of living next door to a live chicken collection that left him feeling rather fowl about the whole situation. He told of chicken poop, chicken stench, flies, which came from maggots, attracted to the chicken poop, don’t you know.

This led to a side question regarding how many dogs and cats could a Redding resident own, which turned out to be a total of six, which happens to be Redding’s recommended chicken limit for smallish yards. Everyone agreed that when it comes to keeping chicks, there’s some wiggle room to have many chicks (under 3 months of age) until the chicks are old enough to determine their gender. Hens may stay. Roosters will have to go. (Hopefully not to Haven Humane.)

The bottom line: the Planning Commission voted to approve easing previous setback restrictions for backyard chickens. 

But first Commissioners Randy Smith and Michele Goedert were voices of experience and reason as they weighed in with their purely positive poultry encounters.

“It’s not rocket science,” Smith said, adding that for the many years his family raised chickens, it was nothing but a pleasant experience.

No smell. No noise. No problem. 


 Photos by Doni Greenberg of May Bartimioli, 2, and her 4-month-old sister, Lily.


Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Northern California in the tiny town of Igo.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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28 Responses

  1. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    I'll take chickens clucking and roosters crowing next door to me any day over someone with a Harley that they start revving up about 6 AM…. as for the smell, I'd rather smell a chicken coop than cigarette smoke.

    "Chicken Fear" would make a great name for a band.

    • Avatar mayor says:

      i started a blog about chickens. because i love chickens and they dont make and noise louder than a pin drop and plus they are so cute. so do you mind helping me market it?

      the idea is that i am the mayor of a town called chickenville

      i am the mayor because i dont want to be stalked. but anyway i am the

      mayor and in the blog i explain how to build the coops, the breeds

      that you should consider, what to feed them, where to get the chicks

      and so on. the link is below

  2. Avatar Kathleen says:

    We LOVE our girls. I highly recommend them as long as you allow them to free range. Chickens are very busy and social creatures that spend all day long running from one place to another. They follow me around, come when I call them, go into the coop to lay their eggs and every night to bed without prodding.` They've even helped our bug problem. Craigslist has several really cute, small coops. One suggestion is that you purhase pullets as roosters are not that easy to get rid.

  3. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    I get so angry when the Chicken Lobbyists fly into town, with their fancy ways and their expensive city feathers, and try to goose our lawmakers into changing our laws. Everyone is cooped up in the city council chambers, listening to hours of debates and arguments, and in the end the Chickenistas get eggsactly what they want. I cry fowl!

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      Oh, now listen to you crowing and egging them on. You're just trying to build up your nest egg. Wait till the chickens come home to roost!

      • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

        Well, I wouldn't have said a peep if the city hadn't started this duck-duck-goose game here.

  4. Avatar Iris Sanders says:

    Craig's List is a great way to find homes for roosters. I listed three rooster to give away, and got many calls. The people who took them said they had a big hen yard. If they ate them instead, I didn't want to know.

  5. Jennifer Jewell Jennifer Jewell says:

    So glad to see the change in codes. Backyard hens are so darn companionable, funny and helpful. I would recommend them to any family – we just got 6 new chicks after a few years without them and as a family we are thrilled !

  6. Avatar Sal says:

    Perfect timing for this article. My family and I are in the process of building a chicken coop and getting some chickens. The plan is have fresh eggs and have the chickens help with my compost for the garden. This gives me some guidelines on construction and placement. Thanks.

  7. Avatar david kerr says:

    Salmonella are normal inhabitants of the intestines of birds and phylogenetically related amphibians. Wash hands. Kids handling chickens may have a day and night of vomiting and diarrhea. Rare hospitalizations and very rare deaths.

    Chickens eat some insect pests. I lost most of my peppers to locusts one year. The guy at the farmers market said chickens made his pepper crop a success.

    Giving vegetable waste to chickens is easier than composting. My neighbor's chickens love cauliflower leaves and stems.

    Coyotes love chicken.

  8. Avatar david kerr says:

    Do a Bing search of "chickens and salmonella" and read a few articles.

    My wife, three kids and I all spent a day and a night vomiting after a picnic on the beach at Lake Tahoe where goose poop was in the sand. We failed to wash hands before eating sandwiches and chips.

  9. Avatar pmarshall says:

    When we lived in Oakland, we always had chickens. Never go t sick. Always had eggs, and we had a nice, big chicken coop. There were no problems, except when dad decided we needed chicken for dinner. There went my pets! Of course that was sixy years ago? Maybe there are new regulations. Only thing I hope is that someone doesn't get a rooster that crows all night!

  10. Avatar Gaby says:

    I agree how the planning commission approved for easing restrictions for backyard chickens. I myself have this site about chickens too. Good thing I was able to read this article. Thanks really for posting this. It gives me more ideas for the placement.
    Backyard Chicken

  11. Avatar Gaby says:

    I would also like to recommend this site for writing about guidelines for the construction and any other things relating to chickens. It’s just that I wanted also to write about taking good care of new chicks too. I appreciate the article.
    Chicken coop

  12. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Doni, Velly interesting. I see a chicken joke in here somewhere.

    My wife, who's a Redding native, says backyard chickens here on the original westside were everywhere when Redding was small.

    It's taken the city this long to write an ordinace controlling chickens in the burg?

    And why in the hell, can't I keep my rooster?

  13. Avatar shelly shively says:

    Great story, and wonderful pictures of those adorable children and chicks!

    David Kerr, your input about salmonella influenced me to purchase special "chicken'coop garden clogs" for adults and children that enter the pen. I've always been careful about taking my granddaughter in the house for handwashing, but Doni came up with the idea of having a handwashing station outside as well. Kids are too fast @ putting their hands in their mouth and fingers in noses.

    Wouldn't it be fun if we could host a Tour de Coops in Redding? I'll organize it, if anyone is interested.

  14. Avatar Laura says:

    I'd attend the Tour de Coops if you start one!! I am thinking that now I want my own chickens in my yard….I love the eggs and the chickens are so beautiful!!

  15. Avatar Laura says:

    The children in the story are absolutely adorable!! I love how they are so careful with the chickens!

  16. Avatar I_Told_Ya_So says:


    Dozens of escaped rogue homeless pooping chickens have converged on the Parkview neighborhood sending the already frazzled "Ice Cream man" into serious fits of conniption. Neighborhood association cries… (Fowl)…;)

  17. A few workers in our area got Salmonella poisoning. It is a good thing that they did not die and they have fully recovered. ~

  18. Avatar Dave Shippers says:

    Great article and I appreciate all the good imformation for all the people that want to have chickens.. I have chickens myself and my wife and I love to go out each day and gather eggs. I also make chicken coops for people that need a good home for thier girls and will be glad to make one for anyone interested..

    check out
    thanks again for the great article


  19. Avatar KsaaylahDemi says:

    I'll be 14 next month, and I have a pet rooster that I've raised since he was eight days old. I love my chicken a great deal-he's my baby. Honey (yes, his name is Honey) is a very loving pet, who follows me around, and comes when called. Dogs can kill you, and can be very loud at all times of the day and night, some when you just walk by. For cats, they can hurt you as well. My rooster would most likely run away from you and back to my side, like a scared child. I've been in tears over the thought of getting rid of my rooster, and I will fight in court if I have to to keep him. He likes only me, and won't go near my brother, and isn't too fond of my dad either. But I've sat him on my stomach while I;m laying down and he's gone to sleep on me.

  20. I discovered your website, i think your blog is awsome, keep posting.

    • Gosh, thank you, Clifford Cliff. We think is awesome, too, but thank you for noticing.

      This must be the week for us to feel the love, because we're getting all kinds of great feedback. Thank you, thank you!

  21. Avatar Gary says:

    Hi, came across this picture of yours' small child in orange cap holding a chicken.Iwas wondering if I could use it as part of a painting.I have a picture of my niece that will anchor the adult and I,m trying to give it a family feeling . like your story ,you bring back images and memories of living around animals .I don't really show my paintings ,but that could change and Iwould not like upset you. Gary

    • Gary, you are an artist and you are free to use the chicken-and-child photo as your inspiration for you painting. I would love to see it when you are finished. (The little girl is May, my twin's eldest grandchild.)

  22. Avatar Anne C. says:

    I want to knit the hat that little girl is wearing.So cute!And the chicken is also!