Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion doesn’t want to see 7-foot fences in residential neighborhoods.
He sees it as an issue of safety — that of the general public and of the department’s officers.
Obligacion is explaining his position Tuesday when the Manteca Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center to consider recommending that the council change fence limits from six to seven feet in residential neighborhoods.
The chief said the additional foot makes it extremely precarious for police officers or canines to chase suspects that have cleared the same fence.
Not only are many suspects younger and more wiry than police officers but they also aren’t wearing 40 pounds of equipment that a typical police officer wears.
Obligacion noted besides potential injuries to officers, he is concerned that suspects will have an easier time of eluding police or — worst yet — will be able to get far enough ahead of officers that citizens could be placed in danger.
The commission delayed making a recommendation on fence heights at their Oct. 13 meeting. After hearing concerns from the Manteca Police Department, they wanted to know what police departments in cities with 7-foot fences have experienced.
Six-foot fences are allowed in Galt without any city OK, up to 8-foot is allowed with a minor use permit, and up to 10 feet with a conditional use permit.
Galt Police Operations Division Commander Brian Kalinoswki indicated “here in Galt we have not had any issues with fence heights” including from the police department’s perspective.
Seven-foot fences are allowed in Elk Grove with up to 8-foot with a building permit.
Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner said officers have tools to scale taller fences if needed or they can go around. While he indicated he had no data one way or the other, he said “if the fence might be a problem for us, it’s just as much of a problem for them (the suspects), maybe worse. The most significant impediment in any chase (including both the police and fleeing suspects) are dogs.”
Manteca currently allows 6-foot maximum fence heights while an additional foot of lattice can be added if desired. The proposal is to increase the maximum height to 7 feet to be uniform with state codes.
The city has had feedback from citizens unhappy that fences are maxed at 6 feet. At the same time, some residents have installed 7-foot fences as allowed under the state building code.
Just like a 6-foot fence, a 7-foot fence would not require a building permit.
Here’s what nearby cities allow:
6-foot maximum height in Ripon and Lodi.
7-foot maximum height in Lathrop.
8-foot maximum height in Tracy, Escalon, and Modesto.
6-foot is allowed in Stockton along with an extra foot of open weave of similar material for a maximum 7-foot height.