“The conversation around urban chickens hit its peak in the city of Beaverton in 2010,” Dianna Ballash, public information coordinator, revealed. “And there were comments both for and against the code change during the public process.” Volunteer boards were consulted, a community open house was held, an online survey was posted to gauge the public’s reaction and a public hearing was held before adopting any ordinance changes.
The original ordinance prohibiting the keeping of livestock was approved in 1959. The new ordinance was approved in 2010. Since its adoption, discussion on the matter has remained quiet.
In order to keep backyard chickens in Beaverton, the property must be a single family home with 5,000 square feet or greater. Coops and enclosures must be kept a minimum of 20 feet away from all neighboring dwellings. Chicks, 12 weeks old and younger, are able to be kept indoors. Only four hens are allowed and no roosters.
To ensure that chickens do not roam into a neighbor’s yard or other adjoining properties, they must be kept in a secure enclosure. However, the hens may free range during the day if they are kept inside a fenced yard and under supervision. Owners cannot slaughter chickens on their residential property, either.
“The ordinance is part of the municipal code,” Ballash explained. “So at times we get inquiries through our code compliance office from residents and neighbors who have general questions about the number of chickens allowed, enclosures, noise and the like. But it’s rare.”
She believes the popularity of backyard chickens may be seen on a much smaller scale in Beaverton since the city itself is small compared to other neighboring cities.
“Now, a decade since the code changes, the urban chicken ordinance still makes sense for Beaverton,” Ballash continued. “But, as with any policy, we will continue to monitor public sentiment and address future changes as needed for the benefit of our community members.”