Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
While reading your front page story in Tuesday’s Bulletin, ‘Nailed For Fence Again’, I noticed a few problems with the fence in question and shown in the photograph, as well as some of the statements that you make in the article itself.
You claim that “the fence falls within the five foot setback from the sidewalks edge”, and several paragraphs later state that “there is roughly a foot from the edge of the sidewalk to the fence”. It should be obvious that the set back rule of five feet isn’t measured from the sidewalk’s edge on the street side of the sidewalk which is city property, but is measured from the sidewalk’s edge adjacent to the home owner’s property in question, which you describe as being ‘roughly a foot’ and therefore a violation of the code.
I’ve been considering a shed for my backyard recently, and stopped by the City of Manteca Community Development Department, located in the Civic Center near the Police Department, to find out what codes and set back rules might apply. They were very helpful and gave me a handout with all of the information that I would need. One of the items in the handout that surprised me concerned the property line, which reads “Contact the Planning Division for property line setbacks. The back edge of the sidewalk is NOT the property line. The property line is typically 2 feet in back of the sidewalk. Check with Public Works for property line locations. Good advice.
Another thing that I noticed several years ago while signing the paperwork when I bought my house, is that in my neighborhood as well as the neighborhood where this fence seems to be located, the utilities are buried underground in a strip 3 feet wide adjacent to the sidewalk, and that strip is to remain clear in case the city needs to dig it up to make repairs to the system. It went on to say that anything that the homeowner places in that 3 foot strip, fences, concrete, or whatever, would have to come out and be replaced at the homeowner’s expense, not the city’s.
I must admit that I admire your impulse to use your resources and the Manteca Bulletin to leap to the defense of the fence owner’s whom you apparently view as the ‘little guy’ being bullied by the Code Enforcement Division and the city, but in this case the property owner is clearly in violation of the code regarding residential fencing. I would suggest to anyone considering building anything on their property to stop by the Community Development Department beforehand and find out what codes might apply. They might save themselves a lot of trouble and expense in the long run.