I am asking this based on a state or local level, i.e. zoning and health. I assume that in Oregon, which is where I live, and Hillsboro, the city of which I reside to be specific, is primarily democratically managed. They have city council meetings and mayoral elections which constituents can vote and appoint biennially.

Today, I called my city's planning department to ask about keeping chickens, and I was not satisfied with their restrictions. (They will only allow up to three chickens, no roosters, per 7,000 sq ft of property space) According to the city's web site the bylaws were last updated in December 2010, so almost ten years ago.

So How do I register an agenda at their next board meeting, and how can I present evidence to support my case?

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    There seem to be a few questions here: 1) a more general question about how to push for change in your local community, 2) a more specific question about Hillsboro, OR town governance, and 3) an off-topic discussion about the costs and benefits of poultry raising. This might be more answerable if you focused more on how a US citizen can effect change in their local politics. This question is similar: How can a citizen change an existing law ... but doesn't quite cover that since it's mostly focused on OP's misconceptions
    – divibisan
    Apr 9, 2020 at 22:48
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    Sorry, that's original poster, the person who asked the question. I meant that in the question they asked about a individual submitting a bill to be made into a law, which is impossible, and most of the answers focus on explaining how US government doesn't work like that, not on how they can actually change an unjust law
    – divibisan
    Apr 10, 2020 at 0:19
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    I think that this question could be made more on-topic by focusing it less on chickens and more on municipal legislative processes in general. Municipal politics is an interesting topic because it allows regular citizens to actually achieve something and it is pretty underrepresented on this website.
    – Philipp
    Apr 10, 2020 at 13:37
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    I've made a big blunt edit to cut out lots of the off topic discussion of the benefit of chickens. And make the question "How do I register an agenda", and "How do I present evidence". This seems to me to be on topic now.
    – James K
    Apr 10, 2020 at 23:08

2 Answers 2


The bulk of the problem you're going to run into is the smell and noise of chickens. Here's a complaint like that

I live in a residential zone. My neighbor has a chicken coop that is bursting at its seams. The noise from the chickens is constant, and the smell is unbearable.

Not just roosters make noise, and the more you have, the more that noise is amplified.

what are some things I should consider to make a strong and solid argument with supporting evidence?

You need to address those two concerns and you're going to have an uphill battle as the NIMBY (not in my back yard) folks will come out of the woodwork (some might even wonder why you are allowed to keep any chickens in a residential zone). Here's what I would do to counteract that

  1. Talk to your neighbors about it and try to bring a few on board. If you go in by yourself, it will probably be you vs the angry crowd. The more people you have who are willing to speak on behalf of more chickens, the better.
  2. Be specific in addressing concerns. Explain how you intend to limit the sound and smell (this page suggests weekly replacement of straw). Then propose that the new ordinance contain provisions to mandate control of both (i.e. if an animal control officer can smell your chickens from 10 feet away...).

Even still, people in urban areas are often opposed to live animals of any sort that are not of the normal pet variety. They may still oppose you, regardless of what you propose.

Good luck.

  • Good suggestions. I'd expand on point 2 to highlight the importance of researching and considering the concerns of your opponents in good faith. While you may not agree with them, by taking their concerns seriously, you'll be more able to come up with a compromise that addresses them
    – divibisan
    Apr 10, 2020 at 15:18
  • I'd be interested in the counter question. How to avoid this outcome. From experience living in semi-urban places that had them, roosters suck in the morning. And right now we are learning that livestock living in close proximity to lots of people aren't a match made in heaven. There's nothing with the OP's lobbying for relaxation of those rules, according to their interests. But plenty of townspeople who also have an interest in keeping chicken out. Apr 10, 2020 at 23:37
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica The same principles apply. Get a large enough contingent and head to a public town meeting. Large crowds focused on an issue will get their attention. Where I live recently had someone bring in a large contingent of ducks (same basic problems as chickens) and the public outcry against them was so large they eventually removed them without needing the city to take action
    – Machavity
    Apr 11, 2020 at 1:26
  • Is petitioning considered a universal way to change any form of political dilemma? I could probably create one on Change.org. Apr 12, 2020 at 0:48
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    Petitions of the online variety aren't as useful. Politicians (especially local ones) like to see actual constituents advocating issues. Change.org hasn't gotten many results.
    – Machavity
    Apr 12, 2020 at 3:12

One important rule of parliamentary politics is that you don't put a proposal to vote before you know whether it will pass or fail. Voting on motions isn't the start of the legislative process, it's the conclusion. So before you put this on the agenda, do the necessary groundwork.

First, do some legal research. Is the city council actually the right address for your concern? Perhaps it's not them who decide this? Maybe there is some decision that was made on the county, state or even federal level which your city needs to obey? Or perhaps it's something which can actually be decided by the executive, so the mayor is the one you need to persuade?

Then, assuming it is indeed a matter where the city council can decide, talk to all the council members. Who would be willing to support your proposal? Who would oppose it? Of those who oppose it, why? What would it take to change their stance?

Then, after you secured the necessary 50% + 1 votes, put it on the agenda.

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