Hen Keeping

In September 2012, the Santa Rosa City Council approved changes to the Zoning Code to allow hen keeping in residential areas.

Back Yard Chickens


Hen keeping (female chickens) is allowed on any lot in a residential zoning district, or in conjunction with any residential use in any other district. Male chickens (roosters) are not allowed. The Animal Keeping regulations of Section 20-42.040 apply to all residential Planned Development districts. There are specific rules regarding how many hens may be kept on a lot, where the coop can be located, and how the property must be maintained.

Number of Hens Allowed


The maximum number of hens allowed on each residential property is based on the size of the lot in square feet.
  • Lots 5,000 square feet or less : three
  • Lots 5,001 - 10,000 square feet: six
  • Lots 10,001 - 43,560 square feet: six hens per 10,000 square feet of lot area up to 12 hens
  • Lots over one acre: 6 hens per 10,000 square feet of lot area up to 30 hens

Location of Hens on Property


Hens must be kept in a securely fenced area within the rear yard of the residential property.

Coop Requirements


A coop and pen are required. The coop must be placed a minimum of 20 feet from habitable structures on adjacent properties. This is to ensure space between neighbors' living space and the coop. Greater distances are encouraged where practicable. The coop and pen must be designed, constructed, and maintained such that the hens are securely contained in the rear yard of the residence.

The coop shall comply with the following development standards:
  • Setbacks for Six or Fewer Hens: The coop shall be set back a minimum of five feet from side or rear property lines.
  • Setbacks for More than Six Hens: For keeping of more than six hens, the coop shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from side or rear property lines.
  • Coop Height.: Coops shall be no taller than eight feet in height.
In addition, maintenance of the coop and pen is required to ensure clean and sanitary conditions. All enclosures shall be constructed and maintained to prevent rats or other rodents from being harbored underneath, within, or within the walls of the enclosure. All feed and other items associated with hen keeping shall be managed to minimize contact with rodents.

Other Livestock


Livestock farming is allowed in areas of Santa Rosa zoned Rural Residential on lots that are at least 20,000 square feet in size. View Section 20-42.040 for detailed guidance.

Full Text of the Animal Keeping Regulations


View section 20-42.040 of the Zoning Code. All of the City's animal keeping rules are outlined in this section.