Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Up close and personal.

Backyard chickens came under fire a few years ago, when the Tacoma City Council was considering a ban on all domestic poultry in the city (if you're interested in catching up on the details of that, there's a very informative blog that followed the whole ordeal, starting back in 2006: Up to Our Wattles).

Our feathery friends made the cut, though, and Tacoma residents have kept the right to own hens within city limits (no roosters, though!).

Besides acquainting oneself with the legal code, it's important to maintain friendly relationships with our neighbors - it might be a good idea to talk to yours if you're planning on acquiring a flock.

Here's the breakdown of Tacoma's Municipal Code regarding Domestic Fowl (Chapter 5.30):

5.30.010 Keeping – Prohibited places.
It shall be unlawful for any person to keep chickens, geese, ducks, pigeons or other domestic fowl in any chicken house or building within a distance of 50 feet from the nearest portion of any residence, dwelling, hotel, apartment house or rooming house in the City of Tacoma; and the keeping of chickens, geese, ducks, pigeons or other domestic fowl as aforesaid is hereby declared to be a public nuisance; provided that this chapter shall not apply in areas in which abattoirs or stockyards are permitted by appropriate ordinances.
(Ord. 22212 § 17; passed Sept. 30, 1980: Ord. 16586 § 1; passed Jun. 14, 1960)

Nonetheless, your chicken run can be closer than 50 feet to your neighbor's residence, provided that your neighbor consents in writing and that this agreement is provided to the City Clerk (Municipal Code: 5.30.030: Exception under consent of surrounding owners).  It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with general Animal Control codes.

Roosters are prohibited within Tacoma city limits (Municipal Code: 17.02.041).  If you're planning on getting your birds as chicks, try to buy sexed ones.  GardenSphere, located on N. Proctor in Tacoma, is a great place to acquire sexed chicks (when chicks are available).  They also sell pullets and hens, so if you're nervous about ending up with a rooster in your batch of chicks, you might think about getting a pullet.

As always, it's important to ask if you're unsure about the municipal code, contact the City of Tacoma.

More reading:


  1. This is interesting; I called the City of Tacoma about 2 years ago, and they told me the coop had to be 25 feet away from my neighbors house, not 50, and that I had to get permission from my neighbor. Now I read here that a coop can't be closer than 50 feet UNLESS I have written permission from my neighbors...oh well, I guess whoever I talked to that day was just recalling that section from memory! Fortunately I have very tolerant neighbors (the one to my right has chickens himself), and having chickens (and ducks..and geese..) has never been a problem.

  2. The laws actually changed in january. You can now own up to 10 (no roosters) and must only be 12 ft from your neighbors property.
    This said I suggest doing a deep litter system for the chickens to reduce the smell. It keeps the chicken poop dry so the smell wont bother your neighbors.

  3. I'm having an issue now that you can't have more than 6. And they have to be caged constantly. Completely closed in can't have an open top on the run in anyway.