Outlawing San Juan’s ‘free-range’ chickens

A San Juan Bautista rooster.

HOLLISTER
– San Juan Bautista is running afoul of a city ordinance, but
Mission City officials and residents are henpecked about what to
do.
HOLLISTER – San Juan Bautista is running afoul of a city ordinance, but Mission City officials and residents are henpecked about what to do.

San Juan has always taken pride in allowing chickens to roam free along its city streets, bringing charm to the historic town, but now the abundance of the birds is ruffling feathers.

During a town hall meeting last week, residents raised concerns about the number of chickens and the fact the city was breaking its “chicken” ordinance, which states chickens must be kept in pens.

They told city officials to either enforce the ordinance or rewrite it.

“The herd is out of control,” said Jim Pereyra, who added he counted 128 feral chickens at the corner of Franklin and Fourth streets.

“I went to animal control in Hollister, and I’m not allowed to shoot them. I’m not allowed to poison them. They can theoretically be trapped.”

Pereyra said when he first moved to San Juan Bautista, he thought the chickens were quaint, but now they were out of control and too noisy.

“I like chickens very much, but they leave all sorts of stuff on the ground,” he said. “They annoy me at 4:30 in the morning.”

He said the city needed to do something about the chickens or face a lawsuit down the road. The City Council is expected to discuss the matter further at its regular meeting tonight.

Councilman Dan Reed said the city had a chicken program to keep the population under control, but Council was undecided about what to do with the chickens.

“We get three people standing up, (saying) chickens are great,” he said. “We need our chickens as part of SJB. We have another person stand up with the same complaints as you (Pereyra), (saying) that there too many of them.”

Joann Patch, a city planning commissioner, said three Council members and the city manager were aware of the chicken ordinance that prohibits chickens from roaming the city.

“They have to be penned up,” she said.

City Manager Larry Cain said past Councils agreed the chickens were part of SJB’s charm, but their population had to be under control.

“We have been catching them and giving them to good homes,” he said. “We have also been destroying the eggs before the fact.”

Anyone interested in adopting free-roaming San Juan chickens should call City Manager Larry Cain at (831) 623-4661.

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