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This evening’s adventure was a trip to the City of Visalia’s twice-monthly meeting of the Planning Commission. Among the items on the agenda was an amendment to the city municipal code that would add chickens to the approved list of household pets allowed within the city limits.

PUBLIC HEARING – Paul Scheibel
Municipal Code Amendment No. 2015-06: A request by the City of Visalia to Amend Titles
6 (Animals) and 17 (Zoning) to allow chicken keeping in the R-1-6 and R-1-4.5 Singlefamily
Residential Zone Districts. The project is Categorically Exempt from the California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15305,
Categorical Exemption No. 2015-29

My son-in-law’s aunt, who is also our down-the-street neighbor, was instrumental in bringing this issue to the City Council, and spoke in favor of the amendment. Of the dozen or so people who took part in the public comment session, all but two were in favor (there was also a small group encouraging allowing pigmy goats within the city limits, as well, but that issue was not being officially addressed). Pro-hen speakers talked about the joys of having chickens as pets, teaching children responsibility, self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and how much quieter chickens were than barking dogs. The two ladies who spoke against it cited concerns about noise, smell, potential for disease, and loose chickens causing havoc in the neighborhoods.

The Planning Commission process is rather interesting. The City Council had staff write the proposed amendment and gather information regarding what other municipalities allow and disallow. Then after the citizen comment time, the Commission members discussed the ideas in the open session, and ended up recommending a denial of the amendment so that it could be re-written and strengthened before being voted on by the Council.

I know I’m pretty weird, enjoying watching the process unfold. The next meeting will be June 1, and although I can’t be there, I know Christine will keep me posted. Watch this space for further chicken-as-pets news!

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