1) Exploring the hidden gems of San Mateo: A local’s guide

Exploring the Hidden Gems of San Mateo: A Local’s Guide on Fence Requirements

San Mateo is a picturesque city located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. One of the city’s many charms is its beautifully manicured properties lined with well-built fences, offering a serene and secure environment for its residents.

If you’re moving to San Mateo or looking to build a fence on your property, there are a few regulations and requirements that you must comply with. This article will take you through the fence requirements for the city of San Mateo, including the building codes, permits, and design considerations.

Building Codes and Regulations

The regulations and codes for building fences in San Mateo are set by the City of San Mateo Zoning Ordinance and the California Building Code. All new fences and any modifications to existing fences must be approved by the city’s planning department before construction begins.

Height Limitations

The maximum fence height in the front yard setback is three feet. The front yard setback is the area between the street and the front facade of the house. The maximum height for the side and rear yard is six feet.

It is important to note that if your fence is considered a retaining wall, the maximum height limit is three feet in the front yard setback and six feet for other areas.

Fence Materials

The City of San Mateo requires that all fencing materials meet specific standards. Fences must be made of durable materials that can withstand typical weather conditions experienced in the area. Wooden fences must be made from decay-resistant species, such as cedar or redwood, and metal fences must be rust-resistant.

Design Considerations

The design of your fence must comply with the city’s aesthetic requirements. The city of San Mateo requires that fences be constructed in a manner that complements the aesthetics of the surrounding environment. Furthermore, your fence design should complement your home’s color and architectural style.

To ensure your fence meets the city’s aesthetic requirements, consider choosing materials that match your home’s exterior or colors that blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. You can also choose decorative fence tops or posts to give your fence a more ornamental look.


In most cases, a permit is required to build or modify a fence in San Mateo. However, property owners may be exempt from obtaining a permit if the fence complies with the city’s regulations regarding permit-exempt fences.

Permit-exempt fences are fences that are no more than six feet in height, are made of approved materials, and do not block essential services such as water or sewer lines. Additionally, these fences should not form a hazard or obstruction to pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I build a fence beyond the maximum height limit?

A: No, all fences must comply with the city’s regulations on maximum height and design. You must obtain a permit before building a fence that exceeds these limits.

Q: How much does a fence permit cost in San Mateo?

A: The fee for a fence permit in San Mateo varies depending on the size and complexity of the project. Contact the city’s planning department to learn more about the fees associated with fence permits.

Q: Can I use any material to build a fence?

A: No, you must use materials that comply with the city’s regulations. The city requires that fences are made from durable materials that can withstand the typical weather conditions in San Mateo.

Q: Can I modify an existing fence without obtaining a permit?

A: No, any modifications to an existing fence, including repairs, must comply with the city’s regulations and obtain a permit before construction begins.

In conclusion, building a fence in San Mateo requires that you comply with the city’s building codes, regulations, and design requirements. You must obtain a permit before building a fence or modifying an existing one. To ensure compliance, it is recommended that you hire a licensed contractor familiar with San Mateo’s fencing regulations. With these guidelines in mind, you can enjoy the benefits of a well-built fence that enhances the aesthetic of your property while providing security and privacy for you and your family.

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