Town Square

Post a New Topic

Backyard chickens in Palo Alto?

Original post made by PA Family, Green Acres, on Jun 27, 2008

I just read an interesting article on backyard urban "farms" in San Francisco.
Web Link

I have for years wanted to keep a chicken or two - for eggs, as pets for the kids, etc. Obviously, no roosters. I wouldn't go as far as keeping goats, pigs or bees. Our CC&R's forbid keeping chickens.

What would be involved in asking to keep a few chickens? Do I need to get a permit? Do I need to overturn some local law? Since it's in the CC&R's, would it be enough to ask the local neighborhood association? I can't understand why a responsibly kept chicken or duck would be that much different than a dog or cat or rabbit (though rabbits may be verboten, too).


Comments (15)

Like this comment
Posted by Not in my backyard
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2008 at 9:57 am

Sorry PA family. PA has an ordinance prohibiting chickens in your yard. Having kept chicken, there is no "responsible" way of keeping chickens; they fly the coup!!!

Like this comment
Posted by mmmmMom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2008 at 4:17 pm

The previous statement is not true - you CAN have chickens in your backyard in Palo Alto.
No roosters, tho. Just call animal services, down on Bay Shore, & they will give you the 411 on it.
Good luck!!

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Our neighbor had a pet chicken. I have friends who got some a few months ago. And, of course, Ohlone has a flock of chickens.

No, you can't have a rooster, but chickens are great--they eat bugs, for one thing, wander around the garden.

They need a coop that can be closed at night for protection from predators (like raccoons). They don't lay eggs all year round, but the eggs you get are *great*--I've had Ohlone eggs. It's a different experience than a commercial egg.

They do like some straw, they do require some food and there's some cleaning to be done--chicken poop is not uber-sanitary. Oh and chickens need another chicken (but carefully introduced.)--they need that flock feeling.

You can buy them in Half Moon Bay. The great thing is that they don't require much space at all.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2008 at 3:32 am

For some reason my irrefutable comment that chickens smelled bad was striken. That was "chicken" censorship.

Like this comment
Posted by farmer
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Mr.Wallis: chickens dont' smell bad. they have less odor than humans and many other animals and pets. like humans and many other animals, their excrement smells like excrement. how you treat it is up to you. if litter is regularly added to their coop, it produces the most excellent soil additive available, without significant odor. now you are better informed.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Sorry, farmer but I suspect I was tending chickens long before you were an egg. Unlike many of my other depression era experiences I an not nostalgic about chickens. None of them were toilet trained, and the odor was, to me, even more offensive than pig and cattle droppings. If you have a breed of chickens that can be potty trained you will make your fortune. Good luck. And if you can develop an odorless means of defeathering the dirty birds, hurray.

Like this comment
Posted by Andy
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2008 at 4:29 pm


I was raised on a farm, with many of the domesticated animals you can think of. If the animals were allowed to range, the smell was not that bad. However, if they were concentrated, it could get pretty bad. On the ther hand, we pretty much got used to anything. If you want my vote for the worst concentrated stuff, it would be rabbits, then humans.

Like this comment
Posted by farmgirl
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2008 at 9:29 pm

I would agree with Mr. Wallis. I work where a coop is cleaned well every day-- trust me, there's a smell. Chickens are also noisy. Another negative is that when female chicks are purchased, there are males tucked in as well. Are you prepared to kill the males?

What often happens in the Bay Area is that people change their minds and set the hens and roosters free in the wetlands or hills which causes major difficulties. And if your "freed" chicken reaches another flock, it can wipe that flock out by introducing diseases.

I'd recommend buying fresh eggs at the farmers market.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2008 at 10:31 am

One of the highest paid farm workers I knew was a chick sexer - he would pick up a day old chick, blow on its tail and, based on some characteristic he recognized, toss the males into a barrel for disposal before they could cost any more. Farmgirl, why do I think Andy was a "Gentleeman Farmer"?

Like this comment
Posted by Flagrante
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 2, 2008 at 11:33 am

If you have a garden with a snail problem Chickens work wonders, they love to eat snails.

Like this comment
Posted by juust thinkin'
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2008 at 4:14 pm

DK about Palo Alto, but I do know someone in Atherton who has had chickens for years.

Like this comment
Posted by Chicken
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 7, 2008 at 2:29 am

This is very interesting. My seven year old is dreaming of a pet chicken and asks for one every day. He reads books about them and seems to know all the facts that were mentioned above. I just wonder what is the psychology behind his chicken obsession. Maybe it stems from his preschool (Bing) where they watched and documented eggs in an incubator as they hatched into chicks. Anyway, we have a big yard in Old Palo Alto, so it is probably more than enough space for a bird. Would my neighbors kill me if I actually get a pet chicken? My son instructs me that it can be free range and organically fertilize my lawn. Am I crazy to even consider this insanity? Any ideas or thoughts? Where can I get a chick?

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2013 at 9:32 am

I have always wanted to raise and hatch ducks, does anyone know if I need a permit to keep them? And if I do, where do I get a permit?

Like this comment
Posted by Urban chicken owner
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2013 at 11:59 am

We have chickens in our backyard in Old Palo Alto. You can have up to 6 hens, no roosters. Annual permit/license through animal services. They will come out annually and inspect your coop to make sure it passes muster. Chicks can be purchased in Half Moon Bay and they will take back roosters. You need letters from neighbors if coop is close to the property line(s) of the respective neighbor(s) before the license is approved. We have a very open coop (mild weather here makes it possible) so odor is not an issue for us or neighbors. The key is keeping the coop dry with lots of bedding. Chickens can have problems that need attention from a vet - Wildwood Vet Hospital in Portola Valley sees chickens. Hope it helps!

Like this comment
Posted by Neighbors Helping Neighbors
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Dear Neighbors, we are a group of Palo Alto residents who provides
groceries to our 'neighbors in need'. A major component of our food goals
is to provide nutritous calcium and protein rich foods like eggs.
We have a 'monthly food collection' program. Please sign up to deliver eggs ( be it half or full dozen(s). We can supply egg cartons. Drop off location, first Sat. of the month @ Midtown Center 2700 Midtown Court cross street Colorado Ave.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

This time we're not lying. HONEST! No, really!
By Douglas Moran | 12 comments | 957 views

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 847 views

One-on-one time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 602 views