There’s more to keeping Manteca’s standard fence height at 6 feet tall than just uniformity.
According to Police Chief Nick Obligacion and Fire Chief Kirk Waters, keeping the fences at a height of 6 feet can make a world of difference for police officers and firefighters who occasionally have to scale them wearing dozens of pounds of gear.
Those were some of the contributing factors to the council’s decision Tuesday night to create a universal standard of 6 feet for all new backyard fences built within the city limits. The vote was meant to put the debate over whether the 7-foot fences that were approved for a short time by the city, and Mayor Steve DeBrum, in his motion to amend the Manteca Municipal Code, kept all of those who might have tacked on that extra foot in mind.
As part of the motion that was unanimously approved, those with existing 7-foot fences will essentially be grandfathered into compliance and that process will extend out for six months to make sure that everybody becomes aware of what was one of the more confusing city regulations.
While fences that stand at 7 feet tall offer more in terms of privacy and protection, they are a foot higher than what prospective peace officers at the Police Officer Standard and Training (or POST) academy have to be able to scale in order to pass the physical requirements. The extra foot, according to Obligacion, almost makes it nearly impossible for canines to be able to clear the fence if needed and puts officers more at risk when conducting surveillance or peering into a backyard when a crime is suspected of being in progress. The elevated height means that officers may physically have to hold themselves up to see over or jump to get a fraction of a peek, neither of which is conducive to the elements of cover and surprise.
And then there are the Manteca firefighters who occasionally scale fences wearing a bunker suit, rubber steel-toed boots and a self-contained breathing apparatus task strapped to their shoulders. When other gear, like the mask and the halligan and other items that may be being carried by firefighters are added, that extra foot – while it doesn’t seem like much at first – can make the task extremely difficult.
But not everybody was on the same page when it came to the right standard height for fences in the city. The city’s building department recommended the 7-foot segment while the police and fire departments, as well as Manteca’s risk management administrator, felt it would better to go with the shorter of the two options.
Some residents have become enraged in the last several years after shelling out the money for a professionally-designed and built backyard or side yard fence only to later be issued a ticket by the City of Manteca for not being in compliance with the municipal code.
These infractions would continue to be supported by the Manteca Code Enforcement officer and dealt with on a complaint basis. Any new fences being built after the grandfather clause expires would have to be in accordance with outstanding municipal regulation.