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Chinese Rooster

I’m sure you’ve seen the odd chicken or two crossing Honolulu’s roads!

Happy Lunar New Year All!

If you’ve been following me, you may recall I did a blog post on my old website (also found here) celebrating last Lunar New Year’s animal, the monkey. It was a post about “Can You Own a Monkey in Hawaii?” Keeping with that theme this post discusses the laws of the City and County of Honolulu related to this Lunar New Year’s animal, the Rooster. Or more precisely, chickens.

Can You Keep Chickens?

This post is limits discussion to the jurisdiction of the City and County of Honolulu (the island of Oahu).  Additionally, the post focuses on residential areas only. If you are raising chickens for commercial purposes you have compliance issues regarding zoning and permitting, which is a different discussion then today’s post.

Nuisance Law

When keeping chickens, the law is not related to the animal itself, but more has to do with the City government’s ability to regulate nuisances. Old English common law had it that when some type of action by a defendant was either causing a substantial and unreasonable interference with people’s use and enjoyment of the land (private nuisance) or the action had a materially affect the reasonable comfort and convenience of life of the people (public nuisance). Flash forward to today, our city government has the ability to regulate nuisances, in our case for this post, Animal Nuisances. You can find it in Chapter 7, Article 2 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu.

So the laws approach to the situation is to make it unlawful to own poultry, which includes chickens, pigeons, turkeys, geese, ducks and peafowl so long as they are an “animal nuisance”.  See Sec. 7-2.3.

Short answer: yes, you can keep chickens if you are in Honolulu.

Slightly longer answer: yes, you can keep chickens in Honolulu, so long as they are not a nuisance. If they are a nuisance, then you cannot keep them.

So What’s an “Animal Nuisance”?

Article 2 also defines “animal nuisance.” There are three (3) definitions, but I’m going to focus on the first two definitions which is:

  • Makes noise continuously and/or incessantly for a period of 10 minutes or intermittently for one-half hour or more to the disturbance of any person at any time of day or night and regardless of whether the animal, farm animal or poultry is physically situated in or upon private property;
  • Barks, whines, howls, crows, cries or makes any other unreasonable noise as described in Section 7-2.4 (c) of this article;

See Sec. 7-2.2.

So it is clear that a chicken making noise continuously for 10 minutes or intermittently over one-half hour (30 minutes) is a nuisance, but what is that second definition about?

Again, we are now defining another concept, which is what constitutes “unreasonable noise”. Sec. 7-2.4(c) says that:

Noise is unreasonable within the meaning of this article if considering the nature and the circumstances surrounding the animal nuisance, including the nature of the location and the time of the day or night, it interferes with reasonable individual or group activities such as, but not limited to, communication, work, rest, recreation or sleep; or the failure to heed the admonition of a police officer or a special officer of the animal control contractor that the noise is unreasonable and should be stopped or reduced.

What does this Mean for an Owner of a Rooster that cock-a-doodle-doos at 11:00 p.m. in an Apartment Building?

If we consider the nature and the circumstances: (a) it is a building where everyone is close by; (b) the rooster’s noise is at night; and (c) that most people are sleeping at that time; and (d) that the neighbors would likely call the police or animal control personnel. Then the likely outcome is those officials would instruct the owner to have the animal stop. If the owner did not stop the problem, then it would be deemed as “unreasonable noise.” See Sec. 7-2.4. This turns into an “animal nuisance” and then the owner would be prohibited from keeping the rooster.

What Could Happen if you Violate the Law?

Generally, a monetary fine. If you keep stacking offenses within a certain time frame you actually be imprisoned. Additionally, you can be ordered to go to a training program or retain a contractor to help you train the animal to stop the nuisance. Further, such training programs or contractors are paid for by you. See Sec. 7-2.10

How Many Chickens can I Have?

Sec. 7-2.5(d) states that for chickens and peafowl: “The number of chickens or peafowl shall not exceed two per household.”

So yes, while you can keep a couple of chickens in Honolulu residential areas, they better be quiet chickens!

How do I Handle Chicken Noises Bothering Me?

If you have an animal noise complaint for Oahu, then contact the Honolulu Police Department or the Hawaiian Humane Society. The Hawaiian Humane Society recently has started responding to chicken noise complaints: http://www.kitv.com/story/34311091/hawaiian-humane-society-now-responding-to-chicken-noise-complaints

If you want to find more about Honolulu’s Animal Nuisance law, click here.

Thanks again for stopping by and I hope this is a fortuitous and good year for you!

-RKH

DISCLAIMER: This post discusses general legal issues, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained in this post without seeking the advice of  an attorney in their relevant jurisdiction.  Hew & Bordenave, LLLP expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.

Zoning

Hi everyone, on the last post I briefly touched upon using your home as the location of your business.  Today’s post will focus on zoning and all the complexities that brings to setting up your business.

Similar, to how neighborhood associations or condo groups want a certain look, so they enforce covenants against members the government also wants to shape and control how the land is used.  This is accomplished through zoning laws.

All land in Hawaii (except for federal land) is one of four categories: (1) conservation; (2) agricultural; (3) rural; and (4) urban).  The four designation were created by the State Land Use Commission.   The Zoning Code lists what are the permitted uses within each zone.  It also lists the required setbacks, height limits, parking areas for commercial developments, and other such types of requirements.

Every zone has a list of what is a “permitted” use without need of further approvals. It’s the reason you see gas stations and strip malls where you do, and away from your houses.

In general, when looking at a location you want to make sure your business will be able to meet the requirements.  If you are set-up shop in one area and violate the zoning requirements it could be very costly and be so severe as to drive you out of business.  In addition to the land use, construction of buildings need plan approvals from the Planning Department as well as the building itself needs a building permit, which ensures that the building is for the permitted use and has proper set backs.

In some occasions you can get a variance to allow for some type of use not allowed in the zone, such as the shape of the lot allows you a different setback.  It is also possible to get a Land Use Approval for others kinds of use.  However, in general to get a variance or Land Use Approval it can be a long process.

For more information on the matter (for Oahu) visit the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting page.  In addition, when dealing with zoning laws it is best to seek an attorney and other land use professionals to help best explain the complex system.

Licensing and Permitting

Before I end out this Draw the Law, I’d like to make brief mention with licensing and permitting, which dovetails nicely with zoning.  I already made mention of building permits above, but suppose you say you start your business and you have structures you want to alter or demolish.  You will need a building permit for such actions.  There is even a sign permit if you want to install, construct, alter or move any sign on the property!

Certain businesses also require a license to be operational for business.  The best example of this is the liquor license.  A bar cannot operate even though it meets all the other zoning requirement without a liquor license.  For example, let’s say it is the right-sized building for bar operation on a lot in Waikiki or Downtown that allows bars, but the owner fails to obtain the proper liquor license to sell drinks.  He would not be able to open his bar and sell drinks until he gets approval from the Liquor Commission via a license.

Therefore, the need of having all your ducks lined up when opening certain businesses is paramount.  It takes a lot of time, paperwork, review, and discussion with the government.

As always if you like this post or any of my other series please Subscribe to this blawg to receive updates to your e-mail.  In addition, follow me on Twitter @Rkhewesq and Like Me on Facebook under Ryan K. Hew.  If you need to contact me directly, please e-mail me at Ryankhew@hawaiiesquire.com.

See you on the next Draw the Law!

*Disclaimer:  This post discusses general legal issues, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect.   No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.   Ryan K. Hew, Attorney At Law, LLLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.