Urban Farm Bill is Now Law in Seattle

Backyard Chicken
Backyard Chickens

Seattle City Council recently passed an ordinance easing many restrictions on agricultural activities on residential lots within the City. You can see the full ordinance as incorporated into the Seattle Municipal Code here.  On a recent walk (prior to the passage of the new ordinance) around four blocks in Crown Hill I saw seven chicken coops already in existence, several with more than the previously allowed three chickens. Those “scofflaws” (or maybe they’re just forward thinkers) will get a reprieve under the new ordinance as the number of allowed chickens will increase from three to eight. Roosters which were previously allowed are no longer permitted.

Other highlights include:

  • Chicken coops: Structures housing domestic fowl must be located at least 10 feet away from any structure that includes a dwelling unit on an adjacent lot.
  • Beekeeping: No more than four hives, each with only one swarm, are allowed  on lots of less than
    10,000 square feet.
  • Sales: Sales of urban agricultural produce are permitted under certain restrictions
  • Keeping of small farm animals: 

    • In no case is more than one miniature potbelly pig allowed per business establishment or dwelling unit ….
    • up to four small animals are permitted on lots of at least 20,000  square feet; and one additional small animal is permitted for each 5,000 square feet of lot area in excess of 20,000 square feet. Accessory structures, including kennels, for four or more animals must be at least 10 feet from any other lot in a residential zone ….
    • Miniature Potbelly Pigs. That type of swine commonly known as the Vietnamese, Chinese, or Asian Potbelly Pig (Sus scrofa bittatus) may be kept as a small animal, provided that no swine that is greater than 22 inches in height at the shoulder or more than 150 pounds in weight may be kept in the city ….
    • Domestic Fowl. Up to eight domestic fowl may be kept on any lot in addition to the small animals permitted in
      subsection  23.42.052. A.

The actual ordinance has many other provisions, so please read it for yourself if you are considering expanding into urban animal husbandry, or other agricultural pursuits. And in light of raccoon and rat problems in the neighborhood, please make efforts to exclude these creatures from current and future agricultural pursuits!