Drive through almost any Manteca neighborhood and you’re going to see a smattering of 7-foot fences.
Some are illegal, most aren’t.
As such those that have 7-foot fences that weren’t put in place when it was “legal” to do so are subject to being issued a notice of violation — the precursor to a potential $500 fine and a requirement to shave a foot off their fences — by Manteca’s code enforcement officers.
The Manteca Planning Commission thinks it is time that the city ends the confusion and allows 7-foot high residential fences without a permit regardless of when a home was built. The commission Tuesday voted 4-1—with chairman Jose Nuno dissenting out of concern for the safety of Manteca Police officers that may have to scale fences chasing suspects — to recommend the City Council change ordinances to bump the maximum legal height of fences without a permit from 6-foot to 7-foot.
In doing so, the city will sidestep the ire of hundreds of Manteca homeowners who would be subject to potential citations because they have 7-foot fences.
Two homeowners spoke in favor of 7-foot high fences, including one who was issued a notice of violation in August. Both said they were told by city staff in the planning department and building division that 7-foot fences were OK under city rules.
Planning Manager Mike Messner noted municipal ordinances and city zoning got out on synch creating the initial confusion. Then the state upped the maximum allowable fence without a permit to 7 foot from 6-foot. And while the city doesn’t have to adopt the state rules some city personnel apparently advised homeowners inquiring about fence heights in recent years that it was the new city standard as well.
The city zoning code from 1992 to 2012 allowed 7-foot high fences which was different than the 6-foot limit spelled out in municipal ordinances. Then in January 2013 the zoning code was changed to 6-foot fence limit. Then the state that year upped its minimum for fences without a permit from 6-foot to 7-foot,
If the city keeps the 6-foot height, Messner and City Attorney John Brinton noted those fences that were put in place under the old zoning code would be grandfathered in as non-conforming until they needed to be replaced. But those put in place after 2012 would be illegal and subject to forced removal by the city.
Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion spoke about concerns he had with officers and police dogs scaling fences more than 6-foot given how injuries can happen on the landing. One police officer, he noted, has had four workmen’s compensation claims directly tied into being injured while going over fences which chasing suspects.
The chief said 7-foot fences would also make it harder to peer over fences when police are legally able to do is when chasing a suspect.
The commission decided that conformity as well as privacy was a deciding factor in their decision as was homeowners who expressed that they felt their yards and homes were more secure against crime with 7-foot fences in place.