How Tall Can a Fence Be in California?

How Tall Can a Fence Be in California?

How Tall Can a Fence Be in California? As long as you don’t break any height restrictions, there are many ways that you can keep your building protected. For example, a fence in the front or outside yard must be under 42 inches high while fences in the rear yards have 72 inch maximum heights.

As long as they conform with all of these restrictions and laws for getting around zoning regulations such as those about fences and walls surrounding buildings; people who want to protect their property from outsiders should know how much freedom is allowed according to where it’s being built on one’s land.

Do you know that the fence around your property is the first thing that people would see upon visit? So, shouldn’t the fence be well planned and maintained?

If you live in the US, you must be well aware of the fencing laws before you plan to build a fence. This article would give you insights into some basic fencing laws of California, for example: 

  • What are the responsibilities of a neighbor when it comes to fences? 
  • How tall can a fence be in California? 
  • How to measure fence height and much more.

Let’s get started.

Who Is Responsible?

Do you know that many disputes take place between neighbors over the erection of fences? So, fixing the responsibility to bear the cost of construction, painting, and maintenance of fences would partially solve your problem. 

Since the fence is beneficial for both owners, they would share the overall cost equally. The basic is to know where your property line ends and your neighbor’s property line begins. 

The property line is the boundary where you can build fences. You have to carry out an evaluation survey to get to see the property line.

Sounds good?

Why Do You Need Fence?

Why would you erect a fence around your property even if a dispute is likely to arise with your neighbor? 

Here are some general reasons why you would erect a fence.

  • Adding privacy to your home
  • Providing safety to your pets and your family
  • Securing your property from wild animals, robbers, etc.
  • Decorating your property
  • Preventing the encroachment of your open land

Fencing Laws – Purpose

Fencing laws are beneficial not only for the general public but also for the state’s writ. It would be better to know the primary purpose of introducing fencing laws. These include:

  • Develop and maintain the fences
  • Establish the maximum height
  • Carry precise sight distances
  • Encourage flexibility in design
  • Permit the usage of increased yard areas
  • Avoid disputes among neighbors

How Tall Can a Fence Be in California?

The problem would arise when the homeowners start to build fences as high as they could. Although they might aim to ensure privacy and security, the dispute may occur, and the homeowners would go to court for resolution.

Before getting into details, let’s take a look at what fence is in the light of fencing laws.

‘Fence’ means a barrier of metal, wood, masonry, or other material as allowed by the development code. Its purpose is to enclose, separate, protect one or more areas. It doesn’t include masonry walls. 

Fence Height – Overview 

Here are the rules of maintaining fence height as per fencing laws in California:

  • The fence height located at a front property line shouldn’t exceed three feet
  • The fence shouldn’t exceed six feet on the properties of residential use
  • If the properties are nonresidential use or mixed-use, the fence height in the side and rear yards shouldn’t exceed eight feet 
  • Based on the approval of a minor exception, the fence height within the required side and rear yard setbacks shouldn’t exceed eight feet
  • The fence meeting the requirement of setbacks for primary structure shouldn’t exceed eight feet
  • If the top one foot is of lattice construction, the fence height within the required side or rear yard setbacks shouldn’t exceed seven feet 

The ‘setback’ is the area between a property line and a building or structure. It must be kept open or clear.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

You are not allowed to build a fence, wall, or structure exceeding three feet in height:

  • Within the visibility triangle by two intersecting streets; or 
  • The intersection of a driveway with a property line

Thevisibility triangle’ is the territory between the street and the line formed by connecting each line’s outer points.

However, a few exceptions are allowed like:

  • Public utility poles
  • Traffic signs
  • Traffic signals
  • Trees with their canopy of eight feet above grade

In addition to that, you can’t build a retaining wall more than four feet. 

How to Measure Fence 

I’m sure you’re well aware of the fencing laws (fence height) of California. Also, California has set the procedure of how to measure the fence to avoid ambiguity.

Let’s take a look.

Your fence would be measured as the vertical distance between the finished grade at the fence base to the structure’s top edge. 

If you have retaining walls and fences together, the inspector or surveyor would consider both structures’ total height. The composite structure would be measured from the top edge of the fence material to the wall base at the lowest side finished grade.

You can’t modify the grade to increase fence height.

Your fence height will be assessed from the lowest natural grade side. This will happen if the finished grade’s elevation within six feet of the fence base differs from one side to the other.

When you place a fence at a minimum horizontal distance of 24 inches away from a retaining wall, each structure would be measured separately.

Private Nuisance

Have you ever heard of a private nuisance? Let me take a wild guess – No?

Let me explain.

A private nuisance refers to the loss of property enjoyment without an actual physical invasion of that property.

If you erect a fence exceeding 10 feet high, this might annoy the adjoining property owner. Raising the fence beyond 10 feet is causing private nuisance, and the aggrieved owner can sue you for this. 

Prohibited Fence  

You can’t install the following types of fences unless you seek approval from California’s authority.

  • Electrified fence
  • Barbed or concertina wire
  • Chain link fence when visible from a public or private areas
  • Temporary fences like wire mesh fencing, plastic fencing, and barricade

Final Words

If you plan to erect a fence around your home in California, it’s your prime responsibility to follow the fencing laws strictly. 

The fence height varies from three feet to eight feet, depending upon specific circumstances.

If you are a beginner and can’t make fences, you can hire a company. Don’t forget to have a conversation on fence height beforehand with a hiring company representative. 

Keep a famous saying in your mind – Good fences make good neighbors.