Murrieta chicken lovers rejoice! As of last month it is officially legal to have up to four free-range, roaming chickens in your fenced back yard. Murrieta will join nearby Temecula and Riverside on the side of legally owning egg-laying, morning-announcing feathered friends.

The Ban

On December 6, 2016 chicken supporters gathered at a Murrieta city hall meeting in hopes that an amendment would pass allowing for lawful chicken ownership at their homes. Historically, homeowners with less than a half-acre were barred from owning chickens, though pot-bellied pigs were okay. Supporters of the changes sought to target Section 16.44.040 of the Development Code, which “establishes standards and requirements for the keeping of chickens in the Single Family Residential zone districts, which include operations and activities that may generate potential noise, smell, dust or other nuisances.”

The Legal Specifics

The new rules allow for up to four chickens per 7,200-square-feet to a half an acre, enclosed in a coop located in a rear or side yard at least 10 feet from the rear or side yard property line at a Single Family Residence. The coops must have an enclosed “runway” area that protects the residents from the elements, and the entire area must be kept clean and odor-free. Those owning more than a half acre may have 12 chickens, and those with more than an acre may have 30 chickens per acre. Roosters are still barred within city limits due to their raucous morning behaviors.

The Road to Foul Freedom

Apparently many Murrieta residents have been vying for backyard freedom for a long time, and even engaged in illegal chicken accommodations. “It was the worst-kept secret in Murrieta,” said Nancy Leavitt, a longtime Murrieta neighbor in regards to the large amount of people shirking the previous anti-chicken ordinance. Dedicated supporters of the ordinance amendment appealed to lawmakers and city council members through their stomachs. They brought the fruits of their beloved chickens’ labors (fresh eggs) to town meetings along the way, a tactic that was apparently successful.

Up on the Latest

At Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, we are diligent about staying up to date on changes in the laws of our community, no matter how minor or major. If you or a loved one is concerned about possible minor civil or criminal charges due to city or county ordinances, call our office today at (951) 489-3320. In the meantime, we hope your roaming chickens lay the choicest eggs and your neighbors keep their coops clean!