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City of Alameda Meeting on Backyard Farm Animals

Niman Ranch Hogs

The City of Alameda is hosting a community meeting to discuss regulatory changes regarding backyard farm animals. (Niman Ranch)

The City of Alameda is holding a community meeting to discuss updates to the City’s code to make adjustments for the keeping of certain backyard farm animals. The effort is evidently in response to a growing urban farming movement, and code on the books that was clearly written in another era.

Existing municipal code states that, “No person owning or having the control of, or being the keeper of, any horse, mule, cow, goat, sheep, hog, ass or domestic fowl, shall permit the same to run at large upon or graze or feed upon any public street or, unless tethered, upon any unfenced lot in the City.” (Section 7-9.2, Grazing on Street or Unfenced Lot.) and that “It shall be unlawful for the owner, keeper or person having possession or control of any stallion, jack or bull, to allow any such stallion, jack or bull to serve any animal within one hundred (100°) feet of any dwelling house occupied by another than such person…” (Section 7-9.4(a), use of Animals for Propagation.)

Existing code also prohibits the keeping of swine, unless the pig-pen is kept at least three hundred feet from premises owned or occupied by another person. The same section also sets the limit for swine at 5 heads, unless their keeper can provide an enclosure equal to one acre per head.

Owners of horses, mules, cows, goats, sheep, hogs, domestic fowl or an ass are also prohibited from letting those animals run at large or graze on any public street, unless tethered.

A section of code more likely to be updated, and more likely to be called upon for enforcement, is one pertaining to the keeping of chickens and other domestic fowl. Section 7-4.1 limits keepers to a maximum of six chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys or domestic fowl, and requires the birds to be kept in an enclosure at least twenty feet away from a house occupied by someone independent from the keeper.

That section goes back to the early 1980s, as evidenced by an exception, “This subsection shall not apply to persons who at the time of the adoption of this section maintain more than six (6) domestic fowl, provided that such persons shall not keep more than twenty (20) domestic fowl and provided that such persons register the number of birds which they possess with the animal shelter before April 1, 1983.” The animal shelter is specified as the agency tasked with verifying the number of birds.

The meeting will take place on Thursday, April 25th, at 6:30 p.m., at the main Alameda library on Oak Street.

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