City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

February 15, 2011
When it comes to backyard chickens, Mayor Johnson doesn't peep

Don't count Mayor Kevin Johnson among those with a strong opinion about whether we should be allowed to keep chickens in our backyards.

At a press conference on Monday, the mayor was asked by Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler if he had any thoughts on a City Council Law and Legislation Committee item scheduled for later today on legalizing backyard chickens.

The mayor's response was, simply, "No."

One of the arguments made in support of backyard chickens is that the animals provide a local and sustainable food source. So given that the mayor said in his State of the City that he wants 20 percent of the food purchased in Sacramento to be produced locally, his apathy toward this subject is a bit surprising.

Then again, he may just be waiting until the issue reaches a full City Council debate, which seems inevitable.

For now, the Law and Legislation Committee is being asked to direct city staff to begin working on an ordinance that would permit egg-laying chickens to be kept in the city.

Many people have strong opinions about this subject. A group calling itself the Campaign to Legalize Urban Chicken Keeping (that's right, CLUCK) has formed - and its supporters are vocal. Some local neighborhood groups are also behind the cause.

"After almost two years of community education, widespread media coverage, and an outpouring of public support, the City Council can't afford to ignore the issue any longer," said Susan Ballew, a CLUCK team member. "This is just the next small step to make us a greener, healthier city."

A CLUCK press release said allowing the egg-producing animals in city backyards would "provide a local, sustainable food source superior in nutritional value and free from harmful antibiotics, hormones and other chemical additives found in conventional eggs."

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

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