The Visalia City Council met on Monday and voted to consider allowing residents to keep backyard chickens in residential zones. 

May 15, 2023 — Visalia City Council

Documented by Jackie Schuster

What happened: The Visalia City Council met on Monday and voted against initiating code updates to allow for the keeping of chickens in residential zones. 

The city’s current municipal code considers chickens farm animals that are not allowed in most residential zones and the city council decided 4 to 0 that it will keep the code as is and not explore changing it at this time. Council member Emmanuel Hernandez Soto abstained from voting on the item, but did not provide a reason.

The council last considered allowing backyard chickens in 2015, but ultimately decided against allowing the birds in residential zones.

Council member Steve Nelsen said that they received four emails about the topic, three from the same resident, and it was a very small percentage of the population.

“As our homes are being built closer together, lot sizes are smaller,” he said. “When I look at the cities in the staff report, they’re more rural communities, we’re not. I for one, will not support it.”

Council member Brett Taylor said he was the lone council member to support allowing backyard chickens in 2015, but since then his perspective has changed and he will not support it. He said he believes there would be issues with neighbors letting chickens roam and the increased demand on code enforcement.

A slide from the staff report showing that the cities of Exeter, Farmersville, Lindsay, and Woodlake allow chickens in residential zones, while many larger cities, such as Clovis and Dinuba do not.

And also: The council approved a change to City Manager Leslie Caviglia’s contract, raising her salary 2.5% and giving her a one-time $1,000 payment in line with other city employees’ compensation.

Up next: The Visalia City Council will meet again on June 5.

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