Chapter 17.60


17.60.010    Permit requirements.

17.60.020    Measurement of fence and wall height.

17.60.030    Height limits.

17.60.040    Fences adjacent to Soquel Creek Pathway and Grand Avenue Walkway.

17.60.050    Materials.

17.60.060    Parking lot screening.

17.60.070    Private agreements.

17.60.010 Permit requirements.

A. Administrative Permit. An administrative permit is required to establish a new fence or wall consistent with the height, placement, and material standards in this chapter. Replacement of an existing fence that is in compliance with standards of this chapter does not require a permit.

B. Design Permit. The planning commission may allow fences and walls that deviate from height, placement, and material standards with the approval of a design permit. The planning commission may approve a deviation to a fence standard; provided, that the deviation will not result in a significant adverse impact for neighboring properties, public access or views or the community at large when one or more of the following apply:

1. Unique circumstances exist on the site, such as a property line abutting a highly trafficked public street or path or historic use of screening for the property; and/or

2. The deviation is necessary for the reasonable use and enjoyment of the property.

C. Building Permit. Fences and walls may require a building permit as required by California Building Code.

D. Encroachment Permit. Improvements located in the public right-of-way may require public works department approval of an encroachment permit. See Section 12.56.060(A).

E. Coastal Development Permit. A proposed development that is located in the coastal zone may require a coastal development permit (CDP) as specified by Chapter 17.44 (Coastal Overlay Zone) and the findings for approval of a CDP as specified in Section 17.44.130 (Findings for approval). (Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)

17.60.020 Measurement of fence and wall height.

A. Measurement of Height. The height of a fence or wall is measured from the finished grade at the base of the fence or wall to the top edge of the fence or wall.

B. Fences on Walls. If a fence is atop a wall, the total height is measured from the base of the wall.

C. Different Finished Grades. If the adjacent finished grade is different on opposite sides of a fence or wall, the height is measured from the side with the lowest finished grade to the highest point on the fence or wall. (Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)

17.60.030 Height limits.

A. Maximum Height. The maximum height of fences and walls in all zoning districts is shown in Table 17.60-1 and Figure 17.60-1.

Table 17.60-1: Fence and Wall Height


Maximum Height

Area within front setback from the front property line to the front facade of the primary structure

3-1/2 ft.

Areas on a corner lot shown in Figure 17.60-1 [1]

3-1/2 ft.

All other locations

6 ft.


[1] See Section 17.96.050 (Intersection sight distance) for additional corner lot fence requirements.

Figure 17.60-1: Fence and Wall Height

B. Intersection Sight Distance. Fences on corner parcels and adjacent to driveways shall comply with maximum height requirements as specified in Section 17.96.050 (Intersection sight distance) to maintain a clear view for motor vehicle drivers.

C. Decorative Features and Materials.

1. An additional two feet of fence height is permitted above a six-foot-high fence for lattice or other similar material that is at least fifty percent transparent.

2. Decorative arches and other similar features above an entry walkway may be up to ten feet in height within required front and exterior side setbacks.

D. Use of Parking Spaces. Fences and walls may not be placed in a location that interferes with the use of required on-site or street parking spaces.

E. Fences Along Arterials and Collectors. The community development director may require additional transparency or reduced heights for fences along arterial and collector streets to maintain public views and/or enhance community design.

F. Noise Walls. The planning commission may allow walls along arterial and collector streets to exceed maximum permitted heights as shown in Table 17.60-1 when necessary to mitigate noise impacts on residents.

G. Coastal Access and Public Views to the Coast. Fences and/or walls shall not prevent or obstruct public access to the coast or shoreline. Fences and/or walls also shall not block, obscure, or otherwise adversely impact significant public views of the shoreline, as identified within the LCP land use plan. (Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)

17.60.040 Fences adjacent to Soquel Creek Pathway and Grand Avenue Walkway.

All fences adjacent to the pedestrian paths along the east side of Soquel Creek north of Stockton Avenue and along the Grand Avenue Walkway shall comply with the following standards:

A. Maximum height: three and one-half feet.

B. Required material: wood, ornamental steel or iron, or other similar material.

C. Fences may not be constructed of solid material. Fences shall maintain public views through the use of widely spaced vertical posts or other techniques. In all cases, such fences shall not adversely impact significant public views of the coastline, as identified within the LCP land use plan. (Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)

17.60.050 Materials.

A. Permitted Materials. Fences and walls shall be constructed of decorative masonry, ornamental steel or iron, or wood, and shall be of a complementary color and material with the primary building. Other materials may be permitted if the community development director determines the design to be compatible with adjacent structures and its surrounding neighborhood.

B. Prohibited Materials.

1. Fences and walls may not be constructed of inappropriate materials such as sheet metal, vehicles, underground/aboveground tanks, garage doors, aluminum siding, corrugated tin, and other similar materials not specifically designed for use as fencing.

2. Barb-wire, razor wire, and electric fences are prohibited in all zoning districts. Chain link fences are prohibited in residential zoning districts, except for temporary use during construction with an active building permit. (Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)

17.60.060 Parking lot screening.

Parking lots of six spaces or more within ten feet of a residential zoning district shall be screened with a fence or wall as required by Section 17.76.060(I) (Screening). The planning commission or city council may require a fence or wall beyond the maximum height. (Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)

17.60.070 Private agreements.

This chapter is not intended to interfere with any agreement between private parties regarding the placement, height, or design of fences and walls. Where conflict occurs between this chapter and such a private agreement, the city shall follow this chapter. The city is not responsible for monitoring or enforcing private agreements or mediating fence and wall disputes between neighbors. (Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)