Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Chicken lovers cry fowl over city's rules banning against backyard birds

The chickens are coming home to roost. James Bertini, the founder of Denver Urban Homesteading who's been campaigning for more than a year, will meet with city officials today in his campaign to "Free the Chickens" -- and remove the regulations that prohibit some Denver residents from keeping birds in their back yards, and pluck others for big permitting fees.

"I began the initiative process in Denver to allow six chickens as an accessory use without a permit," Bertini reports. "If the language is approved at our Tuesday meeting, our citizens group will file it with the city clerk." After that, the proposed ordinance will need close to 4,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot -- and then voters would have to approve it.

And why would anyone in Denver want to have six chickens? "Free the Chickens was created because of the belief that Denver residents should have the right to own chickens," asserts the group's website. "Denver has a fifty-year-old law that bans chickens in some areas and allows them in others, but only after a very complicated permitting procedure and payment of $150 for a one-year permit. The law was made when Denver was trying to shed its cowtown image by banning large, poorly kept chicken farms. Times have changed, and backyard farmers who want fresh eggs for themselves and for their families have replaced the chicken farms of two generations ago. We think that every Denver property owner or tenant should be able to have up to six chickens. We are not advocating roosters..."

Got additional information -- and see a five-minute video on the joy of raising chickens in Denver -- at

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Ken Salazar gets roasted by Michelle Malkin as a political turkey."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun