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If elected leaders concur, Manteca will no longer be only SJ city with 6-foot fence limit
7 foot fence
A new residential fence along Woodward Avenue is built to the current maximum height allowed in Manteca of 6 feet.

The Manteca Planning Commission has no problem with 7-foot residential fences.

Neither does the city’s Community Development Department.

And if the City Council agrees in the coming weeks Manteca will longer be the only city in San Joaquin County that doesn’t allow 7-foot fences.

The Planning Commission Thursday unanimously recommended that the council nix the current 6-foot height cap on residential fences and allow 7-foot fences.

“I remember voting for 7-foot fences last time,” Commission Chair Jeff Zellner said in reference to a 2016 recommendation the planning body made that was ultimately spiked by the City Council at the time.

Back in 2016 the police department pushed back on the idea of 7-foot fences.

The police command staff in 2016 was instrumental in convincing the council to torpedo the move to 7-foot fences.

The reasons cited then involved police officers laden with more than 20 pounds of gear and protective vests who sometimes had to chase suspects over fences. The city had one officer who twice submitted worker’s comp claims as a result of a bad landing.

There was also a concern about the safety of K9 dogs clearing a 7-foot fence versus a 6-foot fence.

It’s not that police always go over fences. At the time a council member on the losing end of the vote regarding 7-foot fences noted officers have the option of “running through fences” when chasing suspects as reflected in several claims the city had received regarding damaged fences as the  result of law enforcement actions.

Commissioner Leonard Smith noted the police can now deploy drones to track suspects fleeing over fences.

Another losing argument at the time was the fact 7-foot high fences can serve as passive crime deterrents by making it difficult for thieves to “case” property by looking over fences separating front and back yards as well as alley fences.

Municipal J.D. Hightower pointed out that not only do 7-foot fences enhance the privacy of residential property but they also make things uniform. That’s because city allows 7-foot high masonry sound walls.

The move to 7-foot high fences will also end a headache for the city’s code enforcement division.

That’s because up until 2015 the City of Manteca had a long track record of being as clear as 1040 tax form instructions when it came to fence heights.

The city zoning codes from 1992 to 2012 allowed 7-foot high fences which was different than the 6-foot limitspelled out in municipal ordinances.

In January 2013 the zoning code was changed to the 6-foot limit. Then the state upped the maximum allowable fence without a permit to 7-foot from 6-foot.

When the council rejected the commission’s 7-foot fence recommendation in 2016, they took steps to avoid people who legally erected 7-foot fences when then city had conflicting rules from being hounded by code enforcement. The city allowed those with 7-foot fences to fill out forms that were mailed with utility billings to indicate if they had a 7-foot high fence and the year it was put in place so it would be in file.

The goal was to protect them from code enforcement actions that would require them to tear out a 7-foot fence and subject them to $500 fines.

The action to move toward allowing 7-foot fences was started when Councilman Charlie Halford at the request of several residents asked that the change be considered.

Halford made his request that the council voiced consensus in pursuing less than two months ago.

The community development department was able to bring it to the commission level significantly quicker than back in 2016 when it took close to nine months.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email