Chapter 18.65


18.65.010    General provisions.

18.65.020    Standards for location, height, and setbacks.

18.65.030    Design standards.

18.65.040    Allowable materials and maintenance.

18.65.050    Prohibited fences and materials.

18.65.060    Exemptions.

Prior legislation: Ord. 91-13; Code 1990 § 8.1.01.

18.65.010 General provisions.

A. The following general provisions shall apply to all fences, walls, and screening:

1. All new fences, walls, retaining walls, and any screening, including landscaped screening, shall first require a review and approval by the planning department prior to installation or construction. A building permit issued by the building and safety division may also be required.

2. For all new developments, such as housing tracts, commercial and industrial developments, churches, government and quasi-government projects, and institutional developments, fences, walls, and screening must be approved as part of the required review process including a specific plan (SP), development plan review (DPR), or a conditional use permit (CUP). If fencing or screening was not approved as part of the original review of the SP, DPR, CUP, or other review process, but is contemplated after the fact, a modification of the original review is required unless specifically stated in the approvals that walls and fencing can be reviewed separately. [Ord. 342 § 3 (Exh. A), 2016.]

18.65.020 Standards for location, height, and setbacks.

A. No fences, walls, or screening materials shall extend beyond that which is allowed in this zoning code. The construction and installation of any fence, wall, or screening material shall be in compliance with the following height standards:

1. Residential Districts.

a. Front Yard/Side Yard. A fence or wall made of materials which are sight obscuring may be built to a maximum of three feet in any required front/side yard setback area. Double-rail fences, or fences made of materials which are not sight obscuring (at least 75 percent open, such as wrought iron), may be built to a maximum of four feet in any required front/side yard. The fencing along the side yard may slope upward to connect with a higher rear yard fence. The length of a sloped fence section shall not exceed a maximum of 10 feet.

b. Rear Yard. A fence in a rear yard may be built to a maximum of six feet at the property line so long as it is built outside of the required front yard setback area. For fences or walls constructed within the required minimum setback area (where a main building may be constructed), the maximum freestanding fence height shall be 12 feet, including fencing around private tennis/sport courts.

c. Corner Lots. A fence not more than six feet high may be constructed in the rear yard, as defined in subsection (A)(1)(b) of this section, adjacent to a public street on a corner lot, if it does not obstruct clear view of intersecting streets as defined in subsection (A)(1)(d) of this section.

d. Clear Sight Triangle. The height of fences, trees, shrubs, and other visual obstructions shall be limited to a maximum height of 30 inches within the triangular area formed by drawing a straight line:

i. Between two points located on and 20 feet distant from the point of intersection (the intersection of the prolongation of the right-of-way lines, excluding any curved portion joining the two lines) of two ultimate street right-of-way lines.

ii. Between two points located on and five feet distant from the point of intersection of an ultimate street or alley right-of-way on one hand and the edge of a driveway or another alley right-of-way on the other if parkway width is less than 12 feet wide.

e. Grade Differences. Where there is a difference in the grade of the properties on either side of a fence, wall, or other similar structure, the height of the fence shall be measured from the natural grade on the outside edge of the proposed wall or fence of the property upon which it is located. Where the elevation of an adjoining building site is higher than the base of the fence within a side or rear setback area, the height of the fence may be measured from the elevation of the adjoining building site to the top of the fence. For properties that slope upward from the street, retaining walls may be used as a terrace to form planting beds, or a series of planting beds. However, in no case shall any retaining wall exceed the three-foot maximum within the required front yard setback area.

f. Retaining Walls. Where a retaining wall protects a cut below or a fill above the natural grade and is located on the line separating lots or properties, such retaining wall may be topped by a fence, wall, or hedge of the same height that would otherwise be permitted at the location if no retaining wall existed.

g. Double Frontage Lots. Each frontage is treated like as the front yard; thus, the same standards that apply in subsection (A)(1)(a) of this section apply to lots with double frontages (lots with frontage onto two streets).

h. Fire Hydrants and Mailboxes. Fire hydrants and mailboxes shall be accessible from the public streets and may not be enclosed behind fences or shrubs. Shrubs and other screening materials should be kept the minimum distance away from the hydrant as required by the fire code.

i. Gates. Gates shall be constructed of ornamental iron/tubular steel and/or wood. Such gates may be placed in any location provided they meet the requirements of this section. Wood gates over 36 inches wide shall have a metal frame. Chain-link gates are prohibited. Vehicular driveway gates shall be constructed of ornamental iron/tubular steel and metal if solid. If screening a recreational vehicle, the gate shall be constructed of a solid opaque material.

j. Split-Rail Fencing. Split two-rail fencing shall be allowed in the front yard or along the front property line with a maximum height of four feet for columns and three feet for the top rail. All columns shall be cemented with footings. Materials for the columns shall be wood, brick, or block. The rails may be either wood or other nonwood products that have the appearance of split rail. A building permit shall be obtained prior to construction.

k. Adjacent to a Nonresidential Zone or Use. The maximum fence height between a residential zone or use and a nonresidential zone or use shall be six feet.

l. Agricultural fences, equestrian fences, and fencing for agricultural animals. See exemptions in CMC 18.65.060.

2. Downtown Business District, Commercial Districts, Industrial Districts.

a. Fences and Walls within the Front Setback. Fences and walls are discouraged within the required front setback area with the exception to small retaining walls (where needed). However, in no case shall any wall or fence exceed six feet in height within 10 feet from the front property line. The area in front of the fence shall be incorporated into the required landscaping and may be used to screen necessary fences. Any fence that exceeds three feet shall be placed at or beyond the required front setback, or the 10-foot setback, whichever is greater, unless specifically allowed by the zone district standards.

b. Perimeter Fencing and Walls. Perimeter fences and walls for uses that require such are limited to no more than six feet in height at the property line. If a taller fence or wall is required, the fence must be placed at either the required setback or 10 feet, whichever is greater. The area between the property line and the fence must be incorporated into the overall landscaping of the property, including sufficient landscaping screening materials to mitigate the visual impacts of the taller fence or wall.

c. Corner Lots. Solid fences and walls shall not exceed six feet in height and shall be set back no less than five feet from the edge of any sidewalk or driveway. The area between the wall and the sidewalk edge or curb edge shall be landscaped with a combination of trees and shrubs sufficient to screen the wall.

d. Berms. Earthen berms may be used to screen parking areas, mechanical equipment and other appurtenances otherwise visible to the public. Berms shall not exceed two feet in height and shall be sufficiently landscaped or integrated into the overall landscaping plan of a new project. Berms shall be designed with sufficient undulation to provide visual relief and shall meander for the entire length where possible. [Ord. 342 § 3 (Exh. A), 2016.]

18.65.030 Design standards.

A. All fences and walls shall be architecturally integrated to match the design of all main buildings associated with the project to the greatest extent possible. In commercial districts, industrial districts, and the downtown business district, fences shall be required to match the same or similar finishes as the exterior of buildings. Where possible, walls shall act as an extension of the building, rather than an afterthought. In addition to these standards, the following shall apply:

1. Commercial or industrial projects that abut a residential use or residential zone district shall be required to install a six-foot-tall decorative concrete block wall with adequate buffers and screening as required in Chapter 18.70 CMC, Landscape Requirements.

2. Commercial or industrial projects where proposed fences or walls are proposed on the property line adjacent to or visible to the public right-of-way, a parking lot, or Interstate 10 shall be constructed of decorative masonry. Perimeter walls shall have articulated planes by providing at a minimum for every 100 feet of continuous wall a 24-inch-deep by eight-foot-long landscaped recession. Graffiti mitigation measures shall be integrated into the wall, including area for vines and other screening materials to be planted in front of the wall. In addition to these standards, the following standards shall also apply:

a. Walls that exceed five feet in height and more than 50 feet in length, including retaining walls, shall be required to install metal trellises every 10 feet to break up the monotony of large wall spans between columns. Said trellises shall be fastened or bolted to the wall in a manner that will support planted vines as well as the weight of the trellis.

b. Acceptable wall materials include stone or brick veneer over block, split-faced masonry block with heavy articulation, stucco over block, or any other approved materials. Decorative split-rail wood fencing may be used where deemed appropriate during the required review process.

3. Public facilities whether private, government, or quasi-government, including water tanks, storage yards, pump houses, or other similar facilities, are required to install appropriate decorative fencing if adjacent to or visible from a public right-of-way. Approved fencing includes decorative masonry walls or wrought-iron fencing with appropriate landscape screening to deter vandalism and graffiti. [Ord. 342 § 3 (Exh. A), 2016.]

18.65.040 Allowable materials and maintenance.

A. Acceptable and allowed fencing and wall materials include the following:

1. Walls constructed using masonry, including stone or brick veneer over block, brick, stone-stacked reinforced walls, and split-faced block.

2. Wrought iron or any combination of brick pillars, or block with wrought iron.

3. Wood plank fence materials are acceptable in residential zone districts. Except for gates, split-rail (two-rail) fencing, and equestrian fencing, wood and vinyl or similar recycled fencing materials are permitted in rear or interior side yards only, and only if not visible from the street. Gates may be of wood in any location provided they comply with the standards of this section.

4. Vinyl fencing is acceptable in residential zone districts (see subsection (A)(3) of this section).

5. Walls covered with pre-colored stucco.

6. Chain link fencing is allowed only as follows:

a. In any residential zone district, in locations where it will not be visible from the adjacent public street.

b. In any residential zone district chain link is allowed in the front or street side yard when it is consistent with the character of the street where the subject property is located.

c. In the Open Space Residential (O-S-R), Residential Estate (R-E), or Rural Residential (R‑R) zone districts, chain link is allowed in the front, street side, side, or rear yards, including in locations where it will be visible from the adjacent public street.

7. Other materials deemed appropriate for use as part of a DPR or CUP approval.

B. All fences, walls, and screening visible to public or adjacent to any public street or right-of-way shall be maintained accordingly:

1. General Maintenance. All walls and fences adjacent to a street, sidewalk, or public right-of-way shall be continuously maintained in good repair. The property owner shall be provided 30 days after receiving notice from the city to repair a wall or fence that becomes an obvious public nuisance, including the removal of graffiti. The community development director may grant an extension to such time period not to exceed 60 days.

2. Landscaping. The area between the back of curb and any fencing shall be landscaped, have a suitable permanent irrigation system, and be continuously maintained by the property owner.

3. Hedges and screening materials shall be trimmed and cared for so as not to impede a sidewalk or street, or to grow to a height beyond that which is allowed in CMC 18.65.020(A).

4. Stone, brick, and block wall surfaces shall remain natural and unpainted.

5. Wood fences, except split-rail fences, shall be stained.

6. Vinyl fencing shall be maintained free of damage and breakage, including large holes. [Ord. 342 § 3 (Exh. A), 2016.]

18.65.050 Prohibited fences and materials.

The following fences, walls, and screening are prohibited:

A. Any fence that has not previously been approved as part of a DPR, CUP, or first approved by the planning department shall be prohibited.

B. Prohibited perimeter fencing materials include the following:

1. Barbed wire (see exemptions).

2. Chain link, except as allowed per CMC 18.65.040(A)(6).

3. Plywood.

4. Electric fences (see exemptions).

5. Razor wire.

6. Debris, or berms formed with various materials other than dirt and landscaping. [Ord. 342 § 3 (Exh. A), 2016.]

18.65.060 Exemptions.

The following fence and wall types are exempt from the specified provisions of this zoning code:

A. City- or state-required sound attenuation walls bordering freeways are exempt from CMC 18.65.020 and 18.65.030 if so recommended by a noise attenuation study and first approved by the community development director.

B. Fences installed by the city inside of or on the perimeter of a public park shall be exempt from CMC 18.65.020, 18.65.030, and 18.65.040, and 18.65.050(B)(2).

C. Fences installed by a public or private school inside of or on the property boundary of the school grounds shall be exempt from CMC 18.65.020, 18.65.030, and 18.65.040, and 18.65.050(B)(2).

D. Fences around public baseball diamonds, and sports fields shall be exempt from CMC 18.65.020, 18.65.030, and 18.65.040, and 18.65.050(B)(2).

E. Agricultural fences for the keeping of animals, including horse arenas and corrals so long as the fence is not a perimeter fence, unless outside of any required setback, shall be exempt from CMC 18.65.020, 18.65.030, and 18.65.040, and 18.65.050(B)(1), (2) and (4). Solid fences must comply with the clear site triangle requirements listed in CMC 18.65.020(A)(1).

F. Agricultural fences around fruit orchards shall be exempt from CMC 18.65.020, 18.65.030, and 18.65.040, and 18.65.050(B)(1) and (2). Solid fences must comply with the clear site triangle requirements listed in CMC 18.65.020(A)(1).

G. Golf course driving range fences shall be exempt from CMC 18.65.020, 18.65.030, and 18.65.040, and 18.65.050(B)(2).

H. Temporary construction fences as part of an approved project.

I. Fences or walls in association with an approved temporary use permit.

J. Fences legally constructed prior to the adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter, except that CMC 18.65.040(B) shall apply. [Ord. 342 § 3 (Exh. A), 2016.]