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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Supervisors add setbacks to rooster ordinance


Last updated 8/10/2018 at 9:41am

The county of San Diego’s rooster ordinance is being updated.

The changes add a setback of at least 50 feet from a property line, increase the setback from an adjacent residence from 50 to 150 feet, redefine the property size to exclude roadways and provide a two-year amortization period for enclosures meeting current but not new standards.

A 3-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote July 10, with Bill Horn and Dianne Jacob absent, approved the introduction and first reading of the ordinance amendments, while a 4-0 vote, July 24, with Jacob still recovering from surgery, approved the second reading and adoption. The ordinance changes will become effective Aug. 23.

The rooster ordinance was created in 2011 as an attempt to combat cockfighting and included a limit on the number of roosters on a property. The ordinance defines a rooster as a male chicken six months age or older with full adult plumage or which is capable of crowing.

The ordinance limits a premise, including contiguous parcels under common ownership,

to one rooster for premises of less than half an acre, four roosters on premises between half an acre and 1 acre, six roosters on premises between one and 5 acres and 20 roosters on premises of more than 5 acres. Each individual rooster beyond the limit constitutes a separate violation of the ordinance, and any zoning with more restrictive provisions on the number of roosters was retained.

The quantity limit exempts commercial poultry ranches whose primary purpose is to produce eggs or meat for human consumption, approved 4-H Club or Future Farmers of America projects, private or public schools and county or Humane Society animal shelters. The omission of statutory protection for Grange projects was an oversight. San Diego County had four Grange chapters when the original ordinance was adopted and now has only one active Grange chapter. The ordinance is enforced on a complaint basis, and no Grange project has ever been cited to be in violation of the ordinance.

The rooster ordinance went into effect Jan. 1, 2012. The September 2011 board of supervisors action also called for a review of the ordinance after one year to determine if changes were needed. During 2012, the county’s Department of Animal Services investigated 29 reported violations. Some of the respondents cited a 4-H Club or FFA exemption, and in two cases, the organization’s leadership confirmed the rooster owners as members but had no written documents with details of the approved project.

In 2013 the ordinance was amended to require written verification of the 4-H Club or FFA project upon demand by an animal control officer, humane officer or law enforcement officer.

Noise complaints from neighbors led to the 2018 updates regarding setbacks, and a definition of net property size was added.


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