Chickens in Denver neighborhoods: City Council takes on the urban homesteading clusterpluck

The fight over the current urban homesteading movement can sometimes seem as heated as the battles between homesteaders and cattle ranchers on the frontier 130 years ago.

And the feathers will be flying tonight at Denver City Council chambers, as members consider putting a chicken in every plot.

The move to turn city back yards (and sometimes front yards) into mini-farms has spread across the country, inspiring a host of skinny-jeans sustainability fans to turn into Mr. Greenjeans. At the same time, the movement has fertilized a bumper crop of neighborhood disputes and a few legal threats, including one against Denver's James Bertini, who dared to have a Facebook page called Denver Urban Homesteading when a California outfit claimed to have exclusive rights to the words "urban homesteading."

We doubt the Dervaes Institute will be at Denver City Council tonight. But you can bet dozens of residents will be on hand as representatives debate the proposed changes to the zoning code that would allow residents to own up to eight chickens or ducks -- but no male birds -- and up to two dwarf goats without having to get the special permit required now. Instead, they'd just need to pay $20 for a onetime license, and guarantee that the animals had the required shelter and square footage (sixteen square feet per chicken).

Councilmembers began debating the proposed ordinance last Monday -- when Bertini arrived wearing a chicken suit. While some residents are pushing to limit the number of birds to four or six, Bertini would like to expand the measure to allow the slaughter of the animals on the premises, arguing that it's more "sustainable."

That should get some neighbors' blood boiling. The political clusterpluck gets under way at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Denver City and County Building.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Michael Hancock has shortest honeymoon ever thanks to ex-Denver Players king Scottie Ewing."

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Sundari Kraft
Sundari Kraft

Roosters are illegal  now, and they would be illegal under the proposed ordinance. The new ordinance would not change a thing with respect to roosters. And despite Mr. Bertini's continued insistence on bringing the issue up, slaughtering is NOT included in the proposed ordinance, and there is absolutely zero chance it will be added to the ordinance tonight.

All that being said, at last Monday's public hearing, there were 53 people who testified about the ordinance. Out of those 53, 49 were in favor of the ordinance, and only 4 were opposed. Pretty impressive display of community involvement from Denver's citizens. Let's hope that City Council listens.

Laurel 80
Laurel 80

Americans have long had the reputaton as conspicuous consumers and urban farming is helping to turn that around. Instead of watering grass, water plants that provide your family with food. There is nothing tastier than bush rippened berries, fresh tomatoes and fresh eggs. I would guess that neighborhood dogs  barking is no less botherseme than a rooster crowing. If your neighbor  gets a rooster, turn them in if you don't like it. There are remedies, no need to thow out the baby with thebath water.


They say "no male birds," but I've lived next to two different households where they have chickens AND a rooster.  Those little fockers can start crowing at 4am and they won't stop! 


I am all in favor of allowing people to keep chickens, but your reference to turning in people with roosters reminds me that the City's response to other issues relating to the disturbance of the peace is simply to ignore them -- have you ever tried to get Animal Control to do anything about a neighbor's barking dog for instance?  For all the concerns expressed by career politicians about dispensaries in neighborhoods, there seems to be a complete disregard for weekly disturbances from 10pm-2am caused by the patrons Park Tavern (and, I suspect, just about any bar).  If the City has to do anything to regulate the keeping of chickens, it may be a bad idea, based on its failure to enforce multitudinous other ordinances.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong post, Solar Satellite. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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