Chicken man — Roger Taylor loves his hens, so much so that he’s trying to amend his Ridgeview Village 8 CC&Rs to allow them. Taylor, a Master Gardener, touts the health benefits of eating out of his organic garden, which also houses his eight happy hens. The CSD’s CC&R subcommittee gave him six months to get three fourths of his neighbors to sign off on his proposed amendment. Village Life photo by Pat Dollins


Backyard chicken advocate proposes Ridgeview CC&R changes

By From page A1 | April 11, 2012

Roger Taylor wants chickens allowed in El Dorado Hills back yards, and not just on the grill.

He proposes softening rules that currently prohibit the fryer-friendly fowl, citing successful backyard chicken ordinances in exurban communities throughout the state, including the upscale enclaves Orinda, Walnut Creek and Danville.

Taylor, 67, is a retired dentist, a successful real estate investor and co-founder of American River Bank. Locally, he’s best known as board president of the El Dorado Hills Vision Coalition, the nationally top-ranked youth service organization.

At first blush, the man seems like an unlikely advocate for backyard chickens. The back deck of his Ridgeview Village home looks out at Folsom and its lake. A terraced yard beneath that deck has become a regular stop on the garden tour, and has been featured in toney magazines three times in recent years. None of those articles mentioned the lush organic vegetable garden or chicken coup on the bottom terrace.

Taylor and his wife Farah live with one foot in “Valley Living” and “Sacramento Magazine,” and the other firmly planted in the fertile soil of “Mother Earth News” and “Sustainable Living.”

They are “locavores.” They want to know where their food comes from (the closer the better) and also what’s in it (the less additives the better).

Farah is a Phd molecular nutritionist and toxicologist. “We have no idea how many poisons we ingest today,” she said, citing research that links diabetes, early onset puberty and many cancers to antibiotics, pesticides and hormones in the food chain.

“Commercial eggs are produced indoors in factory farms,” she said. “They’re full of that stuff.”

By comparison, the eggs Roger’s eight hens crank out at a rate of about one a day, each, are a virtual super food, she said. “These eggs have one-third less cholesterol, one-quarter less saturated fat, two-thirds more Vitamin A, twice the omega 3 fatty acids, three times more Vitamin E, seven times more beta carotene, and up to six times more Vitamin D.”

The Taylor family fowl are antibiotic and hormone free, and are exposed to minimal residual pesticide, she added.

Roger is a cancer survivor, but said his organic roots predate his prostate problems.

He grew up on his family’s North Sacramento dairy in in the 1950s, and became an avid skier and a regular on Sierra Club outings.

He took up dentistry, established a practice in Fair Oaks and eventually purchased the old Fair Oaks Dairy property on Winding Way, three beautiful acres complete with barn and outbuildings.

As a busy bachelor, he recalls putting cattle on the property simply to keep the weeds down, keeping chickens for the fresh eggs and putting in a garden. He boasted “tomatoes as big as grapefruit and cantaloupes the size of basketballs.”

Chickens are a gardener’s best friend, Roger said. They generate terrific organic fertilizer. Their bedding becomes compost. They eat bugs, and provide a pleasing clucking soundtrack to garden toils.

Roger claims that some of the wild chickens still roaming Fair Oaks Village are descendants of his flock.

Over time he married and raised a family on the old dairy site, replacing the drafty farmhouse and landscaping the entire property before selling it in the early 1990s.

He discovered El Dorado Hills’ Ridgeview neighborhood and eventually purchased a view home on Powers Drive with a back yard full of poison oak and rattlesnakes. It took four years to create the terraced lawns, flower beds and koi ponds, all nestled between dramatic rock outcroppings. A double-high, raised bed organic vegetable garden anchors the bottom terrace.

The hens that now call the garden home generate far more eggs than Roger and Farah can consume. Neighbors enjoy the excess, along with whatever seasonal bounty the garden offers.

But some have complained that his backyard cluckers violate Ridgeview Village 8’s covenants, conditions and restrictions.

Early in 2011 Roger set about getting the rules changed, pitching the benefits of backyard chickens to former CSD General Manager John Skeel, before the matter was subsumed in the tsunami of Skeel’s suspension and eventual firing.

Roger returned to the CSD last month, appealing to the CC&R subcommittee, who gave him six months to get his village CC&Rs amended.

He’s crafted simple changes to the “no livestock” rule. Hens would be allowed — no roosters or other livestock — on lots at least 10,000 square feet, with a minimum 25 foot setback from neighboring homes.

The proposed language prohibits commercial livestock operations, but contains no strict limit on the number of hens, only that they be maintained in sanitary conditions.

The change would only affect the 45 parcels in Ridgeview Village 8, which includes all of Mossridge Way, all of Muse Drive, minus the four parcels at either end, plus 10 homes along Powers Drive near Mossridge.

The approval process requires Roger to convince 33 of his Ridgeview Village 8 neighbors to sign on.

Roger said he hopes his village can lead by example, and points to successful backyard chicken ordinances in San Mateo, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, San Francisco and Oakland. Closer to home, Sacramento, Roseville and Elk Grove allow chickens.

Urban chicken ordinances typically include rules that ensure the cluckers don’t become a nuisance to neighbors. Taylor must also comply with his own CC&R nuisance clause, boilerplate language often cited in El Dorado Hills’ neighborhood disputes.

He must convince his neighbors that chickens won’t become “an annoyance or nuisance to the neighborhood,” and that nothing the hens do will constitute a “noxious or offensive activity.”

Standing in his garden, Roger gestured to the hens scratching at his feet and opined, “It’s all about sustainability. These guys are just one piece of the puzzle, but they’re a good start.”

Mike Roberts

Discussion | 10 comments

  • garyAugust 10, 2012 - 6:09 pm

    name the chickens then the become pets....

  • BonnieAugust 16, 2012 - 10:16 am

    I am in the contemplation stage of attempting to begin the discussion here with our POA in Auburn Lake Trails in Cool, CA (just up the hill from El Dorado Hills!). I appreciate this great article which gives me inspiration and perhaps a bit of courage to take on the task! Thank you for publishing it!

  • AnnieSeptember 16, 2012 - 8:29 pm

    I had chickens in Auburn Lake Trails many years ago (only two). Never had roosters and nobody minded the sweet clucks. I am on Ridgeview in EDH now and would love to have chickens. I hope this guy prevails and CSD allows a few chickens. I have the most wonderful portable chicken coop plans.

  • MarieAugust 25, 2013 - 2:58 pm

    I would like to attempt a similar effort for St. Andrews Village. Who's with me?

  • ThomasMay 08, 2014 - 10:31 am

    that sounds like a great idea I'm definitely in.

  • Charles KnightSeptember 17, 2013 - 9:16 pm

    My name is Charles Knight. I strongly encourage this movement. I have been a restaurant owner in El Dorado Hills for the past 3 years. Prior to my opening here in EDH I was employed at the Slocum House in Fair Oaks Village since 1998 and the executive chef there from 2004-2008. The local chickens were an intregal part of Slocum Houses atmosphere. Slocum House even went as far as adding a rooster to their logo. If there is any way a local business owner like myself can advocate for this, please let me know! I live locally in Crown Village and have been here for the past 12 years and would love to see this cc&r amended for our neighborhood as well.

  • Kathleen NewellSeptember 28, 2013 - 10:51 pm

    Mr. Taylor, Please join our MicroFarm working group. OUR PURPOSE To promote policy in El Dorado County that supports small scale agriculture, which refers to a wide range of activities involving the raising, cultivation, processing, marketing, and distribution of food. MicroFarm size parcels range from small lot size properties to a few acres and are outside of agricultural zoned land. El Dorado County Policy Change Suggestions: 1. Allow use of Animal Keeping (chickens, mini goats, and other small animals) on small parcels 2. Allow use of front yard vegetable gardens 3. Allow selling what produce you grow on or off site 4. Encourage rooftop gardens and ground level gardens, especially in mixed use, commercial and multi-family A. Recognize vacant development sites, unused county owned land, commercial rooftops, and residential lawns are all potential farms and gardens 5. Develop a ratio that requires X amount of community gardens per X amount of population in Community Regions and Rural Centers 6. Require inclusionary language in future high density development agreements for above subjects, especially in CCR’s 7. Other?

  • JaimeSeptember 03, 2014 - 1:06 pm

    Does anyone know what the outcome was on Dr. Taylor's efforts to keep his chickens? I just moved to EDH last month from San Diego, CA (where it was okay to have up to 6 chickens) and we were just informed of a complaint about our 4 hens.

  • GeorgeOctober 24, 2014 - 3:58 pm

    I would be interested to hear as well. I am in the process of buying a home in El Dorado Hills.

  • M.D.October 24, 2014 - 6:38 pm

    Call the CSD each area has their own rules.



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