I'd like to address concerns about allowing backyard chickens in residential zones. Many U.S. cities allow backyard poultry; some in California include San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Anaheim and San Jose.

Backyard chickens can have many benefits; they can provide manure for the garden, eat household food waste, produce fresh eggs every morning and even become lovable family pets. They are also animal projects for many 4-H and FFA members. Not all 4-H and FFA members can live on properties allowing them the ability to show poultry and rabbits for their projects.

According to a 2009 study, "Waves of the Future: The First Five Years of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development," when compared to other youth, 4-H'ers excel and are:

* Twenty-five percent more likely to contribute to their families, themselves and their communities.

* More likely to see themselves going to college.

* Forty-one percent less likely to engage in risk/problem behavior.

Also, since the waste output of a chicken is very minimal, the setback limit should be less than the proposed 50 feet, which would disqualify most yards. My house lot is almost 10,000 square feet and would accommodate a few chickens with no problem, but would not meet the setback requirements from the back of the house to the fence line, as it is 45 feet. My showmanship chicken is about the size of a pigeon -- it hardly needs to be 50 feet away from my house.

Linda Snoddy