Count your chickens
  • Flickr/Hans S.
  • Count your chickens
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved urban farms and community gardens today as part of the 2010 Year of Urban Agriculture, making amendments to the city's land use code to promote local food growth. Read the long and short of the new legislation here. In a nutshell, it essentially allows the growth and sale of food crops throughout Seattle, with some restrictions in commercial zones.

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The council, which was heavily lobbied by chicken advocates, allowed the number of urban chickens to increase from three to eight per lot, with additional chickens possible in urban farms and community gardens. The new rules required that chicken coops be set up ten feet away from residences. Existing chicken coops can remain where they are.

Less fortunate are urban roosters, tolerated under older rules, which have been banned from the city for good. Council member Sally Bagshaw, who grew up close to a farm and spent a year in a "situation where we had roosters at three in the morning" said she was glad to see them go.

Council Member Tom Rasmussen reminded everyone that existing roosters had been grandfathered in so that they could "live their lives in dignity and peace."

The ordinance also formally recognizes farmers markets, which will help them to open in more places around the city, and allows food production on rooftop greenhouses with a 15 feet height exemption in a number of higher density zones.

The full set of dos and don'ts can be viewed here.

But a word of warning: If you grow veggies on a planting strip within 30 feet of a street corner, make sure you keep them trimmed to 24 inches or you might get into trouble like Eastlake resident Mary Hansen, who was warned by the City of Seattle that her tall rose bushes and other flora were dangerous for the line of sight of drivers and violated city code. Hansen tried to fight the city by collecting petitions, but the city finally prevailed.

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