Chapter 18.171


18.171.010    General height limitations.

18.171.020    Special height regulations.

18.171.030    General provisions.

18.171.040    Applicability of citywide design guidelines.

18.171.050    On lots used for commercial, industrial, agricultural or institutional purposes.

18.171.060    Exceptions to height limitations.

18.171.010 General height limitations.

(a)    Except as provided elsewhere in this title, no fence shall be erected, altered or placed, and no hedge shall be allowed to grow, that exceeds a height of eight feet in the required rear yard or required side yard of a lot, unless an increase in height is determined to be necessary by the zoning administrator in order to satisfy a required acoustical attenuation measure.

(b)    Except as provided elsewhere in this title, no fence shall be erected, altered or placed, and no hedge shall be allowed to grow, that exceeds the height of 48 inches in the required front yard of a lot.

(c)    Hedges used as screening elements in the side and rear yards of a lot for limited distances to provide for privacy or as landscape elements between adjacent properties shall not exceed a height of 12 feet.

(d)    Sound walls may not exceed 12 feet in height unless located along Interstates I-880 or I-680 where noise studies demonstrate such need. In other areas where a noise study identifies the need for a sound wall in excess of 12 feet, an alternative design solution such as increased building setback or building orientation or other solutions shall be employed to avoid increased wall heights. (Ord. 16-2015 § 40, 6-2-15.)

18.171.020 Special height regulations.

Notwithstanding the general height limitations on fences and hedges imposed by Section 18.171.010, the following more restrictive height limitations shall be applicable to the special circumstances described herein:

(a)    Corner Lots Generally. On corner lots (including reversed corner lots), no fence or hedge exceeding 48 inches in height shall be erected, altered, placed or allowed to grow within five feet of the side street lot line.

(b)    Corner Lots, Triangular Sight Area. On corner lots, within the triangular area bounded by the street lot lines and a line connecting such street lot lines 20 feet from their intersection, no fence, hedge or other obstruction shall be erected, altered, placed or allowed to grow that exceeds a height of 30 inches above the elevation of the top of the curb.

(c)    Multiple Dwellings. Private open space enclosures for multiple dwellings in yard areas adjacent to streets shall not be erected, altered or placed so as to exceed a height of six feet, except that any fence erected within five feet of a street property line shall not exceed four feet.

(d)    Retaining Walls. Where the height of a retaining wall within a required yard prohibits the erection of a fence at least four feet in height, an open fence not greater than four feet in height may be erected in such yard. (Ord. 16-2015 § 40, 6-2-15.)

18.171.030 General provisions.

(a)    Fences over seven feet in height, concrete and masonry walls over four feet in height and retaining walls of any height require a building permit.

(b)    Fences with Finished Appearances. A fence adjacent to a public right-of-way which is designed with a finished appearance on one side shall be oriented so that the finished side faces such right-of-way.

(c)    Sound Walls. A sound wall facing a public right-of-way shall be treated with anti-graffiti paint. Alternatively a well-maintained landscape solution shall be provided.

(d)    Barbed Wire – Pointed and Electrically Charged Materials. No barbed wire, other sharp-pointed material, or electrically charged material shall be used in the construction of a fence unless said material is at least eight feet above the ground level, except where used to contain livestock.

(e)    Substantially open fencing or planting may encroach into setbacks but may not exceed height limitations. For purposes of this section “substantially open fencing or planting” shall mean that for each square foot of vertical surface area more than 75 percent is open to the free passage of light and air. (Ord. 16-2015 § 40, 6-2-15; Ord. 27-2016 § 26, 12-6-16.)

18.171.040 Applicability of citywide design guidelines.

The city council has adopted citywide design guidelines and has also established a guide specific to sound wall and fence design along major roadways. These documents should be consulted for further guidance and direction with regard to fencing and sound wall design. (Ord. 16-2015 § 40, 6-2-15.)

18.171.050 On lots used for commercial, industrial, agricultural or institutional purposes.

Notwithstanding the height limitations of Sections 18.171.010 and 18.171.020, the following less restrictive height and locational limitations shall be applicable for fences used for the purposes described herein:

(a)    Commercial and Industrial Lots. Open fences not in excess of 10 feet in height may be erected on lots principally used for commercial or industrial purposes in any required rear or side yard, except where such yard abuts upon a street.

(b)    Agricultural Lots. On lots principally used for agricultural purposes, open fences in excess of four feet in height and less than six feet in height may be erected in any required yard where necessary for confinement of livestock or for security reasons.

(c)    Athletic and Institutional Facilities. Open fences that enclose school grounds, playgrounds, tennis courts, swimming pools, or other areas that are used for athletic purposes may exceed the height and location limitations of this title with the approval of the zoning administrator. (Ord. 16-2015 § 40, 6-2-15.)

18.171.060 Exceptions to height limitations.

(a)    Fences or hedges may be constructed to heights in excess of those allowed under Sections 18.171.010(a) and (b) and 18.171.020(a), (c) and (d) only when the applicant demonstrates and the zoning administrator finds that:

(1)    The fence or hedge will not create a safety hazard to pedestrians or vehicular traffic;

(2)    The fence or hedge is not located within the public right-of-way;

(3)    The fence or hedge does not exceed the height requirement within the triangular sight area as defined in Section 18.171.020(b);

(4)    The issuance of such a permit is reasonably necessary, by reason of unusual or special circumstances or conditions relating to the property, such as where the application of the general provisions deprives the property owner of reasonably sized yard areas;

(5)    The fence or hedge will not substantially impair the utility or value of adjacent property or the general welfare of the neighborhood;

(6)    The appearance of the fence or hedge is compatible with the design and appearance of existing buildings and structures in the neighborhood;

(7)    The fence or hedge is a planned architectural feature that does not dominate the site or overwhelm adjacent properties and structures;

(8)    The orientation and location of the fence or hedge is in proper relation to the physical characteristics of the site and the surrounding neighborhood.

(b)    The zoning administrator may impose additional conditions to ensure that the fence or hedge is compatible with surrounding improvements and does not cause any adverse effects on the public health, safety or general welfare.

(c)    The permit shall be subject to revocation or modification by the zoning administrator, planning commission or city council in accordance with Chapter 18.330. (Ord. 16-2015 § 40, 6-2-15; Ord. 02-2020 § 20, 1-14-20.)