Top 10 Cities That Allow Backyard Chickens in California

A woman picking up backyard chicken eggs in California

Is it legal to have chickens in your backyard in California? Of course, it is. However, it depends on where you live, as California has no statewide law prohibiting backyard chickens. Some cities and counties, however, have such laws. Generally, chickens are allowed in all rural or agricultural areas within the Golden State.

On the other hand, residential areas commonly restrict or prohibit chickens. Therefore, if you live in a residential area within California, it is best to check with your city clerk, local animal control, or zoning department for specific laws regarding backyard chickens. Meanwhile, the following top ten California municipalities allow backyard chickens:

1. Los Angeles, CA

If you reside within the city of Los Angeles and wish to keep chickens in your backyard, you're in luck. That is because most neighborhoods in Los Angeles permit backyard chickens under certain conditions. For example, chickens are required to be kept more than 35 feet from any food establishment, residence, or dwelling.

Chickens are also prohibited from being kept within 100 feet of any school building, hospital building, or similar institution building. You don't need a permit if you are keeping only female chickens (hens). However, a permit is required to keep more than one rooster within the City of Los Angeles.

2. San Diego, CA

The City of San Diego recognizes the many benefits that come with backyard chickens. Subsequently, it amended its Municipal Code to allow residents of single-family homes to keep and maintain chickens. The number of chickens you can keep on your property in San Diego depends on how far the chicken coop is from your property lines. Generally, up to 5 chickens are allowed on a single-family property, provided the chicken coop is located:
  • In the rear yard
  • Five feet from the side property lines
  • Thirteen feet from the rear property line
If your chicken coop is located at least 50 feet from any building used as a residence, then you may keep a maximum of 25 chickens. No male chickens (roosters) are permitted within the city limits.

3. San Jose, CA

In San Jose, CA, you must obtain a permit from the health officer prior to keeping chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons, game birds, or other fowl. The only exception to this requirement is if you don't own more than 6 chickens or other fowl. In other words, you don't need a permit to keep 6 chickens in your backyard in San Jose, CA.

It is worth noting that the health officer may revoke the privilege to keep six chickens without a permit if you violate a nuisance or health law. Please refer to the San José Municipal Code for more info.

4. San Francisco, CA

An Animal Permit is required to have backyard chickens in San Francisco, CA. Under the permit, the following domestic birds are allowed to be kept: Chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons, and parrots. You are required to fill out and print the Animal Permit Application and submit it to the City Clerk’s Office.

Upon receipt of your application, the City Clerk will notify the Health Officer who will inspect your property. If the Health Officer finds that the location where you intend to keep the chickens is maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, then the City Clerk will approve your application.

5. Sacramento, CA

In Sacramento, CA, it is legal to own chickens but certain restrictions apply. Per the city code, you need to obtain a permit to keep a maximum of 3 chickens on a residential parcel. Roosters are not permitted in residential areas within the city. The slaughtering of hens is also prohibited in residential areas. All hens must be at all times kept in an enclosure that is at least 20 feet from any neighboring dwelling unit.

6. Long Beach, CA

The City of Long Beach's Livestock Ordinance requires that you obtain a Chicken Permit from the Animal Care Services Bureau to keep 5 or more chickens on residential property. The keeping of 4 or fewer chickens doesn't require a permit. If you own up to 4 chickens, you are required to keep them 10 feet from any adjacent dwelling. The minimum distance requirement for 5 to 10 chickens is 35 feet and 50 feet for 11 to 20 chickens.

7. Oakland, CA

You can keep chickens as well as ducks, geese, or other fowls in your backyard in Oakland, CA. However, you must adhere to health and safety regulations. For starters, you are not allowed to keep roosters within the city limits. Additionally, all ducks, geese, chickens, or other fowls must be kept in an enclosure. This enclosure must be located more than 20 feet from any dwelling, church, or school, as required by the city code.

8. Bakersfield, CA

You don't need a permit to have backyard chickens, ducks, or geese in Bakersfield, CA. However, you are required by the city code to at all times keep your birds securely enclosed in a yard or pen. According to KGET, chickens can be raised in Bakersfield by virtually anyone with a backyard. Per the local outlet, the keeping of roosters is not permitted.

Additionally, owners with 4 hens are required to keep their birds 10 feet from another residential building. Owners with 6 and 8 hens are required to keep their birds 12 feet and 20 feet respectively from another residential building.

9. Anaheim, CA

Anaheim's municipal code allows the keeping of chickens in residential areas. However, the code prohibits the keeping of roosters and peacocks in residential zones. The number of hens you can have in your backyard in Anaheim depends on the size of your property. For example, one hen is allowed per every 1,800 square feet of lot area.

10. Stockton, CA

In the City of Stockton, CA, you need a minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet to keep 4 backyard chickens in the RL, RM, and RH zoning districts. Then for every 5,000 square feet of lot area, an additional 4 chickens are permitted. Roosters are prohibited and all hens must be confined in a pen or coop that is at least 5 feet from property lines. On residentially zoned lots, the slaughtering of hens is prohibited by the city code.

Other California municipalities that allow backyard chickens

  1. Riverside
  2. Santa Ana
  3. Chula Vista
  4. Fremont
  5. Santa Clarita
  6. San Bernardino
  7. Modesto
  8. Moreno Valley
  9. Fontana
  10. Oxnard
  11. Glendale
  12. Santa Rosa
This list is not exhaustive or all-inclusive, as many more cities allow backyard chickens in California.
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