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The city is gauging what the public would like to see when it comes to chicken, pigs and even bees within city limits.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Chickens wait in their crates for the all-clear after being evacuated from a fire zone west of Sherwood in September 2020.Why did the code cross the chicken?

Keeping livestock — particularly egg-laying birds — has become popular, even trendy, among a subset of city-dwellers. But in Tigard, some residents are now crying foul about a lack of regulations governing how many chickens can be kept within city limits, and in what conditions.

On June 29, residents interested in how Tigard regulates urban agriculture gathered for an open house at the Tigard Public Library. They not only gave feedback on the most domesticated birds in the world, but also their opinions on a variety of other critters residents want to keep in their yards.

Hope Pollard, a Tigard associate city planner who helped coordinate the open house, said those attending tended to want ordinances that would limit the number of urban animals based on their home's lot size.

"Attendees focused primarily on chickens, since these appear to be the livestock most commonly held by Tigard residents, but they also submitted feedback on goats, pigs, bees and large livestock," said Pollard. "While these numbers tended to be in the low range … most commenters welcomed discussion and provided constructive feedback for how to allow a reasonable number of livestock on a residential property."

She said many of the urban livestock attendees — who weighed in by writing suggestions on sticky notes and attaching them to poster boards — not only expressed their preferences regarding the numbers of animals that were appropriate, but they also advocate for requiring both a permit and appropriate education regarding the respective animals they want to keep.

Another request was that urban farmers keep up their property and ensure that their animals remain safe, said Pollard.

"Concerns mainly revolved around noise, pests, enforcement procedures, and protecting chickens from predators," Pollard noted.

Currently, Tigard does not have a limit on the number of chickens or other animals that residents can have. The push to update the urban agriculture code — defining a limit and setting other rules — came in large part from complaints about urban chickens attracting rats on at least one property in Tigard, according to a city official.

During the open house, seven-year Tigard resident Trenna Landers said when it comes to chickens, her concern is making sure the birds aren't too close to others' property lines, citing problems with flies, odor, rats and other issues.

Landers, who lives off Southwest 121st Avenue, said she would like to see the city require those interested in raising chickens or other livestock to get a permit. She also advocates for a continuing education program on how to care for the animals.

Still, Landers said she was impressed by a woman she talked with at the open house who said she had 30 chickens and kept both her property and animals clean.

Likewise, Tigard resident Paul Snow said he grew up on a farm and understands why people would want to have a chicken or two. Still, he wants to ensure any property with urban livestock is kept clean and free from vermin.

"My thoughts are you can have maybe three to six chickens and get a permit," said Snow, who lives off of Southwest Linn Street. "The neighbor girls across the street from me right now, they had six chickens."

He said he thinks that any new family that moves into the house might want to use the existing coops as well, and he's OK with that, as long as some type of regulations are put in place.

City staff will now submit findings from the open house to the planning commission on July 18 and the Tigard City Council on July 19.

Pollard said those recommendations include city officials working with the community to eventually come up with a detailed code. But that won't occur immediately, she noted.

"Following initial research and outreach, staff recommends these regulations limit the number of animals based on the size of a lot; include specific regulations for enclosures, noise, pests and enforcement; and include a permit requirement that allows for clear enforcement," she told Pamplin Media Group

Tentative plans are to bring a new code for consideration before the Tigard City Council by October.

Birds in the 'burbs

Here's what nearby cities require when it comes to keeping chickens in city limits:

Beaverton: Up to four hens allowed. Coops must be a minimum of 20 feet away from your neighbor's house. No roosters.

Sherwood: License required to keep backyard chickens in the city, renewable every five years. Up to three hens are allowed on properties of at least 7,000 square feet in size. No roosters.

Tualatin: License required with a maximum of four hens on any lot. Chicken facility must be 10 feet from all property lines and 25 feet from all adjacent residences (on neighboring properties). No roosters.

• Hillsboro: Permit required. Three chickens allowed for properties ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 square feet. More birds allowed in bigger spaces. No roosters — or peacocks, turkeys and geese, for that matter.

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