Backyard chickens pecking away in a coop isn’t the image Federal Way usually conjures up.
But the city better known for its busy stoplights and urban sprawl is aiming to become the latest South Sound city to allow urban homeowners to raise chickens.
Jill Palumbo is one of the residents pushing to have hens and the eggs they produce. She said she’s had salmonella poisoning twice, as recently as three months ago, from eating store-bought eggs.
“This way I can make sure the eggs that I’m eating are not contaminated,” she said.
Palumbo said she wants to have two hens, which would produce six to 10 eggs a week. That’s more than enough for her and her husband, Mark, to enjoy in their southwest Federal Way subdivision.
“The neighbors have already said they would like to have the eggs we can’t eat,” she said.
The chickens also would eat insects and provide fertilizer, she said.
Backyard chickens are a growing trend. The Bremerton City Council this month made it legal for residents to keep up to four hens on their property. Tacoma already allows chickens.
A Federal Way city staff report recommends homeowners of lots less than 35,000 square feet – or eight-tenths of an acre – be allowed to have up to four chickens and/or ducks.
Owners of larger properties already can own the animals.
The report estimates the four fowl would produce 18 to 24 eggs a week at their peak production, “an adequate amount of eggs for a typical family of four.”
The staff report, recommended earlier this month by a 4-0 vote of the Planning Commission, will be considered by a City Council committee Monday night. The City Council could vote Dec. 7.
The proposal would require enclosed coops with indoor and outdoor space, but wouldn’t allow them in front yards.
Currently, homeowners must have lots of at least 35,000 square feet to have chickens, which excludes the majority of single-family residences in the city, according to the staff report.
Roosters also are permitted on lots of at least 35,000 square feet. But city staff, sparked by one resident’s complaint about early-morning crowing, recommend banning roosters because of their disruptive crowing, except on lots with zoning that requires at least 5 acres.
Planning Manager Isaac Conlen said the city took up the urban-chicken issue after hearing a dozen or so inquiries over the past two to three years.
“It’s become a trend or a more-desired thing in urban environments for people to be able to raise their own food,” Conlen said. “It sort of ties into this whole organic and locally grown food movement.”
Deena Moody wants to have two hens for their eggs. She said caring for chickens also would provide a way to teach farming values – such as responsibility – to her 12-year-old son in their Mirror Lake neighborhood.
Her husband, Bill, said he plans to make the required cage for the chickens.
Deena Moody said she’ll eat the eggs prepared “any way but burned.”
“I prefer to have them for cooking,” she said. “I bake from scratch.”
Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647