Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CLUCK Asks: Can Backyard Hens Make Sarasota Hip?

Can backyard hens make Sarasota hip? Unlikely. But they may be able to keep Sarasota from being labeled unhip.

Between New College, Pine View, Ringling College and other institutions, hundreds of intelligent creative young people graduate each year in Sarasota. Some find work elsewhere and some pursue their education elsewhere. Some leave, never to return. At least not in the short run.

It would be great to retain as much of this talent as we can, or offer conditions that persuade young people to return when they are ready. We don't need everyone to do this, just a healthy percentage.

in order to figure out how to be more competitive we might want to look at the cities that are attracting college-educated young people. According to a recent Brookings Institute by William H. Frey, Migration Declines Further: Stalling Brain Gains and Ambitions the top six major metropolitan areas with the highest annual net migration rates for adults with college degrees (2007-2009) are Austin, Raleigh, Portland, Riverside, Phoenix, and Charlotte.
And what might these cities of over 1,000,000 population have in common?

Raleigh Sixth Annual Tour d'Coop had 20 coops last year. No permit, four chickens.

Riverside Five chickens or pigeons are allowed in single family residential, non commercial, have to be 50 feet from neighboring residence. However Riverside allows roosters, providing that such roosters are housed from sunset to sunrise in an acoustical structure so as to reduce noise emitted by such roosters and such structure is at least one hundred (100) feet from any residence on an adjoining lot.

Phoenix: Requires chickens to be 80 feet from neighboring residence with written permission of that neighbor, but this is to allow up to 25 chickens. Not in the front yard, fenced enclosure, no roosters.

Charlotte Requires a $40 permit, renewed annually. Must be kept in a coop at all times. Must be 25 feet from any property line. But you can have 20 chickens per acre (10 per half acre, etc.)

Well, there you have it -- wide variation in rules and approaches, but all these major metropolitan areas popular with young college-educated people allow chickens.

Will allowing chickens make Sarasota as popular as these places? Probably not. But it may make us a tad more competitive, and that (combined with our arts, environment, sports, etc.) may just be enough to retain or return more of the young people we want and need.

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