California is a massive state, hence it is not a surprise that different areas in it have extremely varying laws around backyard goat ownership. The backyard goat laws of some Golden State areas that the following article looks at includes:
- Los Angeles County
- San Francisco
- San Diego
Los Angeles County
Los Angeles county is a massively populous county. In fact, it is the most populous county in the entirety of the United States.
What are the rules around owning a goat on residential lots in this county?
The answer is that it really depends on the city.
For the most part they are allowed in a majority of cities in the county. However there are a couple of places that they are not allowed in. The Los Angeles County Agriculture Regulations report made available by Cultivate Los Angeles highlights what cities in the county goats are allowed in. The report is available here and is states that goats are prohibited in 11 cities and permitted in 53 cities. The prohibited cities include; Burbank, Carson, Commerce, Gardena, Inglewood, Lakewood, Monterey Park, Palos Verdes Estates, Paramount, San Gabriel and Westlake village.
Some of the cities where you can have goats are; Alhambra, Culver City, Long Beach and Los Angeles city itself. Bare in mind, that within Los Angeles county, according to the report, the regulation of goats occur in 35 municipal codes and 42 zoning codes.
For a person who is interested in learning about backyard goat laws in a specific Los Angeles County city, then it’s worth getting in touch with that city and seeing what the specific rules relating to goats are in existence. Additionally, it should be noted that some of the cities that were on the prohibited list may now allow goats ownership.
There are strict regulations around owning own goats in the city of the Golden Gate Bridge.
According the the San Francisco Department of Environment people are allowed to have two or less female goats on their private property, if they are used exclusively for the family they belong to. Any more than that involves applying for a stable permit and approval.  Contact the city for more information relating to this.
San Diego’s regulations relating to the ownership of goats on residential lots are found in chapter 4 of the city’s municipal code and can be found here. An extract from the code that highlights the rules relating to the ownership of goats can be seen below. It seems to specify that the only goats that you’re allowed to have are miniature goats:
‘ §44.0307 Cattle, Goats and Sheep
(a)It is unlawful to bring or maintain, within a non–agricultural zone within the City, any cattle, bovine animals, goats, or sheep.
(b)Section 44.0307(a) shall not apply to the following:
- (1)Dairies or dairy farms licensed during the month of July 1953.
- (2)Any goats brought in temporarily, to privately-owned non-agricultural zones for the purpose of performing brush management in accordance with the Land Development Code section 142.0412.
- (3)The keeping of miniature goats on a premises zoned for a single dwelling unit or developed with a single dwelling unit consistent with the following requirements.
(A)Miniature goats are those goats commonly known as Pygmy, Dwarf, and Miniature Goats.
(B)All miniature goats shall be dehorned.
(C)Male miniature goats shall be neutered.
(D)No more than, and no less than, two miniature goats shall be kept on the premises, except that offspring may be kept onsite for up to twelve weeks from birth.
(E)Miniature goats shall be housed in a shed designed to be:
(iii)Easily accessed and cleaned;
(iv)Watertight and draft free;
(v)A minimum of ten square feet of interior space; and
(vi)Located outside of all required setbacks as established by Chapter 13, Article 1 of this Code.
(F)Direct access from the shed to an outdoor enclosure shall be provided with the outdoor enclosure designed to be:
(i)Secured with a minimum five-foot tall fence;
(ii)A minimum area of 400 square feet;
(iii)Secured from the outside in a manner that prevents the miniature goats from escaping;
(iv)Free of objects that would enable the goats to climb outof the enclosure; and
(v)Easily accessed and cleaned.
(G) Goat’s milk, goat’s cheese, and other goat-related food products shall be for personal consumption only; sale of such products is prohibited.’
Please contact the city of San Diego directly to find out the most up to date rules regarding goat ownership on residential land.
Conclusion on California backyard goat laws
Localities throughout California have different laws relating to ownership of backyard goats. For example, Alhambra, Culver City, Long Beach and Los Angeles city allow backyard goats. Burbank, Carson, Commerce and Gardena do not allow backyard goats.
To find out more about rules regarding this subject in areas hat weren’t mentioned above, then make sure to contact the relevant city and county in question directly.
- CULTIVATE L.A.: An Assessment of Urban Agriculture in Los Angeles County | UCLA | (June 2013)
-  Sfenvironment.org, San Francisco Department of Environment, Regulations on the Keeping of Goats and Other Hoofed Animals by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (2020)
- San Diego Municipal Code, Chapter 4 §44.0307 (2018)
This article is written for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.