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Tackling corner lots, fences & frustration
Corner lot fence rules are before the Manteca Planning Commission on Tuesday.

If you own a home on a corner lot in Manteca here’s some planner fence jargon that applies to you: “Standard corner lots” versus “reversed corner lots” as well as “key lots” and “interior lots.”

Corner standard lots are where two corner lots have rear yards that back up to each other. Reversed corner lots have rear yards that abut the side yard of an interior lot — homes located between corner lots. Reversed corner lots can also have a rear yard that abuts the front yard of a key lot that is based on how the house on the adjoining lot is situated

Why these terms matter has to do with the fact the Community Development Department is suggesting that the Planning Commission Tuesday night consider changing existing fence rules for corner lots to reduce the frustration of the public and staff when it comes to what they can do and cannot do with fences.

Reversed corner lots after 2012 cannot have a fence higher than 42 inches for a side yard with a 10-foot setback. That was put in place to enhance safety by improving visibility for those with “key lots” who had their primary driveway near the reversed corner lot’s property line. All over fence setbacks for corner lots when it comes to fences over 42 inches is five feet.

The commission will have two alternatives before them when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The first alternative would eliminate the 10-foot street side yard fence setback for reversed corner lots and maintain a single 5-foot street side yard setback for all corner lots. Staff notes in a report to the commission that the alternative removes the measure of safety provided by the 10-foot setback but reverts back to the ordinance prior to it being updated in 2012.

The staff report states the second alternative “maintains the 10-foot street side yard fence setback for reversed corner lots, but adds the caveat that only requires the 10-foot setback if the primary driveway of the property to the rear of the reversed corner lot  (i.e.  key lot) is within the half of the key lot adjacent to the rear yard fence of the reversed corner lot.”

Staff prefers the second alternative as it maintains a measure of safety but only when the fence is more likely to block the view of the homeowner when backing out of their driveway. Staff noted if the driveway is on the far side of the key lot there is usually enough distance from the driveway that one would be able to see an approaching vehicle, bicyclist or pedestrian.

Staff also noted in their report that the city has no zoning or building permit requirements to construct a fence. That means no plans are required and no inspections are made. That leaves the property owner “solely responsible” for the installation of a fence in the property location. Staff favors consistency given there is no review process for fence “to avoid confusion and frustration of the public as well as staff interpreting and enforcing the standards.”


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email