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Manteca may adopt right to privacy law
New 2-story homes would face new design standards
curran grove top 6-24-10
An aerial view of the 177-home Curran Grove neighborhood the city restricted to one story homes to address concerns of existing residents. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ Bulletin file photo

Plans to develop the Spreckels Sugar almond orchard 17 years ago brought howls of protest from residents in the adjacent Powers Tract neighborhood that is sandwiched today between Manteca High and Spreckels Park.
They were irked that their privacy could be invaded by two-story homes. Powers Tract — save for one residential remodel since 1990 — consists of all one-story homes.
The City of Manteca and the Lodi builder for the 177-home Curran Grove neighborhood addressed those concerns by restricting the new homes to one-story.
The same privacy issues arose when DeNova Homes first proposed building McKenzie Grove at Airport Way and Louise Avenue. Longtime residents along Louise Avenue were adamant they did not want new houses behind them with second story windows allowing people to look into their backyards and house windows.
The developer agreed not to place any second story windows on the rear of new houses that backed up to the existing homes.
Now the Manteca Planning Commission may replace the hit and miss approach to privacy for those living in existing homes that were built years ago by recommending to the City Council a possible right to privacy ordinance. The commission meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center council chambers, 1001 W. Center St.
City staff came up with three cities that have adopted privacy ordinances — Escalon, Cupertino, and Modesto — that involve architectural and planting standards to assure privacy when two-story homes are built. Manteca Senior Planner J.D. Hightower is recommending in his staff report that the commission might want to consider a combination of architectural and landscaping features for privacy standards.
The Escalon ordinance that the commission is looking at applies to any second story portion of a home — and not apartment complexes — including additions to a dwelling or balcony. It addresses placement of second story windows, exterior stairways, doors, decks and such as it pertains to the privacy of surrounding homes.
The Escalon ordinance prohibits new two story homes from interfering with neighboring solar system and satellite antennas.
Parcels where two-story homes are built are exempted from adhering to the privacy standards if:
uadjacent residential lots are vacant.
unext door lots have a home that had a final inspection approved less than five years before the date of the new application.
uthe adjacent residential lot is greater than an acre in size and contains no dwelling within 40 feet of the property line of the parcel where the two-story home is planned.
Among the remedies to assure privacy are the requirement that:
uany second story windows must use glass block, stained glass, obscure or translucent glass unless it is a skylight or the bottom of the window is high enough (five feet or more) that you can’t see out if it.
ustairways and decks must have a six-foot high solid wall installed.
uspecific trees must be planted in the front yard of a new two-story home to block views into windows across the street.
uemploy permanent louvres on the exterior of second floor windows.
urequire side and rear yard privacy plantings of trees and/or shrubs.
uimpacted neighbors could allow privacy plantings on their property that the applicant must plant prior to issuance of a building permit.
uthe builder of the new two-story home record a covenant with the county recorder’s office requiring the retention of all privacy plantings.
uprivacy plantings must be maintained and if they are removed or die they must be replaced within 30 days of a similar sized tree unless the director of the Community Development Department deems it infeasible to do so.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email