Official Political Website for Charlotte Laws - Member of the Greater Valley Glen Council

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Charlotte Laws
Member of the 
Greater Valley Glen Council

21781 Ventura Blvd., Suite 633
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
Tel.  818.346.5280
Fax.  818.985.1690

drlaws@roadrunner.com

Photo of Charlotte Laws in March 2005

The Greater Valley Glen Council Front-Yard Fence Proposal
Written by Charlotte Laws, Ph.D.
Chair - Government Relations Committee
Passed by the Government Relations Committee in September 2005


Dear Los Angeles City Councilmember,

Los Angeles municipal codes sections 12.21 and 12..22, which limit front-yard fence and hedge height to a maximum 3 ˝ feet above grade are obsolete and emanate from a time when crime was lower and conformity was the norm.. Times have changed, and the Greater Valley Glen Council believes these laws need to be reviewed and revised to accommodate a homeowner's need for greater privacy, security and self-determination.

For the most part, Los Angeles has not enforced codes related to front-yard fences, walls and hedges. To enforce them selectively now—as is being done--results in an uneven application of the law. It can pit neighbors against neighbors and be financially burdensome for property owners who do not have the funds to alter their front-yard barriers.

Therefore, we make the following recommendations:

1. Property owners with non-conforming barrier must pay the fence permit fee within 90 days of enactment of the new ordinance. (This amounts to a higher fee than the city required when most of these fences were first constructed). These homeowners will automatically be granted a permit unless their barrier is deemed hazardous (to be determined by the city).

2. Convex mirrors should be required for situations with limited visibility, such as when homeowners cannot see oncoming traffic upon exiting a driveway. Note: cars parked at the side of the road can also limit visibility, yet no one suggests parking should not be allowed.  

3. The new codes should allow front-yard fences and walls up to a maximum five feet from grade (light posts on top of fences can be higher). Front-yard fences and walls that are currently taller (and not deemed dangerous) are to be grandfathered into the system as long as the permit fees are paid within 90 days.

4. Front-yard hedges can be five feet tall, as long as they are not deemed hazardous by the city.

5. The city should make exceptions in special cases, conducting a hearing for these exceptions. 

Los Angeles is a diverse city with different cultures, crime levels and privacy needs. Some properties lack backyards due to hills, pools or placement of the home on the lot. In these cases, property owners may want to enclose their front yards to provide play areas for kids and pets. The city must allow flexibility on front-yard fences, to accommodate cultural differences, the need for security and privacy.  

We hope you will address this issue. It is an important one. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Charlotte Laws at (818) 781-5280. Thank you.

Sincerely,

The Greater Valley Glen Council