When he heard about San Marcos’ new animal ordinance and its restrictions on keeping livestock and birds in the city limits, Matt Akins quickly knew he’d run afoul of the law.
“I looked out my window and said, ‘Oh no,'” said Akins, who keeps four hens in the backyard of his Harvey Street home.
As it is currently written, the ordinance that takes effect on Wednesday prohibits residents from keeping livestock and fowl within 100 feet of a neighbor’s dwellings or within 500 feet of foot service establishments, except in pastures of more than one acre. Akin’s nearest neighbors are well within that range.
“It’s definitely a ridiculous rule. I assume it has to do with noise and in that case it’s a rooster problem, not a hen problem. You can’t hear hens, they’re as quiet as cats,” Akins said.
While critics of the animal ordinance have focused almost entirely on the provision that requires dog and cat owners inject their pet with an identifying microchip, the chicken ban has also drawn the attention of city dwellers who depend on the animals for eggs.
Along with repealing the microchip provision and a ban on selling pets in parking lots and roadside, the city council is scheduled today to consider changes to the ordinance that include an amendment that would allow residents to keep up to eight hens while still prohibiting roosters.
Without the exception for hens, Akins said, “Come April 1, I’ll be eating illegal eggs and they’ll definitely taste better.”
— BRAD ROLLINS
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