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Fence ordinance passes

Council approves new height standards at hillside residences, seeking a balance of keeping privacy, views.

August 13, 2008|By Alison Tully

BURBANK — After nearly an hour of debate, the City Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance that modifies height standards for fences and walls in the hillside area.

The ordinance, approved by a 4-1 vote, is a solution to concerns raised by hillside residents that fences and walls negatively affect their views. It will require that fences or walls in a front yard be no more than 4 feet tall and incorporate an open design if it is over 2 feet, according to a city staff report.

The ordinance also states that residents must obtain a minor permit exception to build walls or fences up to 8 feet and a major permit exception for anything above.

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Both permits will give notice to residents within 300 feet of the property, and staff will examine a series of issues such as the detrimental effects the proposed wall or fence may have on neighboring residents, said Associate City Planner Tracy Steinkruger.

Councilman David Gordon, who cast the only dissenting vote, said he was not comfortable supporting the ordinance until more research is conducted on how the fences and walls will affect residents’ views.

“I think we should see some examples of what these fences look like,” Gordon said. “In discussion, it seems plausible, but in practice, it is going to obstruct the view.”

Councilwoman Marsha Ramos initially proposed that a cap be placed at 8 feet for any fence or wall constructed on the hillside.

However, Councilwoman Anja Reinke said the 8-foot restriction would place limitations on hillside residents that may need a higher wall based on unique property needs.

Another modification of the adopted ordinance lessens the burden on those applying for permits, reducing the fee from $235 to $100, Steinkruger said.

“If a resident is going through the permit process, this way it is less expensive, especially if they are building,” Steinkruger said.

The council implemented the ordinance to put something immediately on the book to address view issues in the area, Steinkruger said. “The modifications that council and staff wanted to see made is out of a concern to balance property owners who want to maintain views with owners who also want to maintain privacy,” she said. Existing interim standards for hillside walls and fences called for front-yard fences to be limited to 4 feet and have an open design for anything over 3 feet.

Some residents, such as Norelyn Kurasz, were happy with the modifications but felt the ordinance could have been simpler.

“The ordinance should have required a 5-foot open fence, either see-through or wrought iron for the side and backyards,” she said. “Then anything over that would require a major permit exemption . . . that way everyone’s views would be protected.”


 ALISON TULLY covers City Hall and public safety. She may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at alison.tully@ latimes.com.

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