Sunnyside looking into allowing backyard chickens

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- There's some squawking about a proposal picking up steam in Sunnyside. The city is looking into allowing chickens as backyard pets. It's a growing trend, but not everyone is happy about it. KIMA learned Sunnyside wouldn't be alone in the Valley.

Meet Kokoleka. A four-month-old hen that calls a Yakima backyard home.

"They are fun pets," says owner, Tracy Harden. "They're really curious. They're fun to watch when they're scratching and digging and pecking."

Backyard chickens are allowed in Yakima. Up to four at a time.

That's not the case in Sunnyside. Pet chickens are banned. But, there's a push to change that by the end of summer.

"I think we're leaning towards lightening things up and allowing chickens," says Sunnyside Planning Supervisor, Jayme Ayling.

He says any ordinance would be similar to Yakima's. There would limits on the number of chickens and their living conditions.

One more thing: no roosters. But, some neighbors are crying foul.

"I think it would be better if they are outside. Outside the city limits because of the smell issue," says Sunnyside neighbor, Gilbert Rodriguez.

But, Tracy says her backyard doesn't stink. And, it's not noisy.

"The starlings, the quail and the doves in the neighborhood are much noisier than my chickens normally are."

But, it's not the chickens Gilbert worries about.

"Dogs like to chase chickens a lot. And, it would be a lot noisier in the town."

If chickens get the okay in Sunnyside, Ayling doesn't expect to see a coop on every corner.

"It might be a novelty at first, but then people realize how much work they really are."

Work that Tracy says is worth it.

"I do like the fresh eggs. And, they do provide the best, freshest eggs."

Planning Commissioners are still the debating the issue before sending any recommendation to city council. It will likely be July before it's clear if chickens could come home to roost.