17.46.010 Purpose.

This chapter provides regulations for the installation, construction, and placement of fences on private property. For the purposes of this zoning code, the term “fence” includes fences or walls. It is the intent of this chapter to regulate the height and location of fences to provide privacy and establish buffers between properties. (Ord. 582 § 1 (Exh. A (part)), 2009)

17.46.020 Permit Requirements and Exemptions.

A. Zoning Clearance Required. Except as otherwise exempted below, zoning clearance shall be required for all fences, walls, entry gates, posts, decorative features, and similar structures. Each application shall be filed with the town planner on a prescribed form, together with all fees, plans, maps, and any other information required by the office of the town planner.

1. Fences located between two private properties and not adjacent to a public street may be up to six feet in height.

B. Special Structure Permit Required. A special structure permit is required for retaining walls that are taller than six feet in height or located less than twenty feet from other retaining walls on the same property; otherwise, only a building permit is required.

C. Exemptions. The following walls and fences are exempt from permit requirements:

1. A wall supporting a permitted structure.

2. Fences not over six feet in height on private property and at least ten feet from the public right-of-way.

3. Temporary fences around a construction site. (Ord. 582 § 1 (Exh. A (part)), 2009)

17.46.030 Development Standards.

A. Maximum Allowed Heights. Fences and walls shall not exceed the maximum heights shown in Table 17.46.030-1 (Maximum Height of Fences and Walls).

Location of Fence/Wall Maximum Height1
Table 17.46.030-1. Maximum Height of Fences and Walls

Generally along all property lines, unless otherwise indicated below 6 feet
Coincident to Town boundary1 8 feet
Along lot lines adjoining a public or private school or the railroad right-of-way 8 feet
Along regulated streets2 6 feet/8 feet2
At front lot line or along public streets 6 feet
At street intersections within clear visibility area: see chapter 17.60 3 feet
Retaining walls3 6 feet
Wing walls4 on other parts of a lot 6 feet
Interior fences or walls 6 feet


Lot boundaries coincident to the town’s boundary but facing a street shall be a maximum of six feet high.

On those lots adjoining any of the following streets, a fence or wall may be constructed to a height of six feet above the elevation of the natural grade upon which it stands or eight feet above the elevation of the centerline of the adjacent pavement or such boundary, whichever is higher:

a. El Camino Real.

b. Marsh Road.

c. Middlefield Road.

d. Valparaiso Avenue.

e. Alameda de la Pulgas.

f. Bay Road.

g. Ringwood Avenue.

3Excludes basements and underground driveway approaches.

4Wing walls are walls of buildings that extend past the eave. They do not provide support to the building. See figure 17.46.030-1 (Wing Walls).

Figure 17.46.030-1. Wing Walls

B. Height Measurement. In all areas except for the required clear visibility area, fence height shall be measured from the natural grade at the base of the fence to the uppermost part of fence. Within the clear visibility area, fence height shall be measured from surface of the closest adjoining pavement to uppermost portion of the fence.

C. Fence/Wall Design Compatibility. In considering whether to issue a permit for such a fence or wall, the town planner shall ensure that it can meet each and all of the following criteria:

1. Uniform Design and Appearance. With the exception of renovations and additions to the portion of Lindenwood Wall located along Middlefield Road, any fence or wall shall be of uniform design, construction, and appearance. A fence or wall shall be constructed from the ground level, unless it is an addition to the top of an existing fence or wall. An addition shall be of the same design and feature the same material(s) and color(s) as the existing fence or wall, ensuring that the resulting fence or wall shall appear to have been constructed as a single project.

2. Landscape Requirements. A fence or wall greater than six feet in height shall be shielded from the public view by plants installed at the time of construction. The selected species shall reach the height of the fence or wall within three years of planting.

D. Retaining Walls. Retaining walls shall be located no closer than five feet from any property line. Except for basements and underground driveway approaches, the maximum height of the retaining walls shall not exceed six feet solid wall construction, with a maximum three-foot-high safety fence on top. A safety fence guard rail shall be placed on top of a retaining wall with a minimum height of forty inches where the edge of the wall is part of a pedestrian path. The safety fence shall be substantially open to light and air in compliance with applicable safety codes. Retaining walls shall be constructed no closer than twenty feet from one another on the same property, except that for every one-foot decrease in height of the retaining wall from the six-foot maximum, the minimum spacing may be reduced by four feet, provided the next closest retaining wall is of the same or shorter height. For example, a five-foot-tall retaining wall may be located sixteen feet from another retaining wall five feet tall or less. However, upon issuance of a special structures permit, the designated approving authority (the planning commission as described in Table 17.06.070-1) may allow for taller retaining walls or retaining walls located less than twenty feet apart. (Ord. 582 § 1 (Exh. A (part)), 2009)

17.46.040 Entry Gate and Post Requirements.

Entry gates, posts, and decorative features in excess of the height limits established in Table 17.46.030-1 (Maximum Height of Fences and Walls), but not exceeding ten feet in height, shall be permitted upon the issuance of a building permit. The width of the posts and columns incorporated in fences and walls shall not exceed thirty-three percent of the built height. The height of the wall may transition from the column height to the wall height over a distance not to exceed twenty feet in length.

It is permissible to maintain a light, not exceeding eighteen inches in height, at the top of any entry gate post or fence/wall column. However, in no instance shall the top of an entry gate post of a fence/wall column, including the light, exceed ten feet in height. There shall not be more than two lights per entrance.

Keypads for gates shall be located to allow vehicles to use the pad without encroaching into the street travel way. (Ord. 582 § 1 (Exh. A (part)), 2009)

17.46.050 Operation and Maintenance Provisions.

A. Maintenance. Fences and walls shall be continuously maintained in an orderly and good condition, at no more than their maximum allowed height.

B. Public Nuisance Declared. Each fence, wall, shrub, or tree constructed or maintained in violation of any of the provisions of this title is declared to be a public nuisance and subject to abatement as such. (Ord. 582 § 1 (Exh. A (part)), 2009)