Going, Going, Gone: Fence ordinance needs changing

On December 20, my downhill next-door neighbor erected posts for a six foot fence. I had no notice that this was going to be built. I immediately ran to the City Of Laguna Beach to verify that this neighbor had a building permit, and indeed they had one. I made a complaint, which was dismissed by the City. The City fence ordinance gives homeowners the right to build fences such as this as long as it is on the fence owner’s property. 

We are always friendly with our neighbors, and have cooperated to build neighbor-friendly fences. My uphill neighbors and I built a fence together, it’s four feet tall, and protects my neighbor’s ocean views. The Driftwood Estates tract is a hidden treasure of mid-century single story small homes; all the lots are terraced. Historically, no fence has ever been constructed that would obstruct anyone’s ocean view. The views on this street, Ocean Vista, have always been respected by all neighbors; we communicate with each other when trees or hedges need a trim.

Note: The owners next door have never moved into the house to this date, it has remained vacant. 

When on December 20, I asked these neighbors to please come over and view the impact that this six foot fence was going to make on my view, they declined, stating that they had a permit, and they needed their privacy. The lot line where this fence is built is uphill from their house by about 12 feet, but is level with my front yard, so they would have to look up and away from the ocean to even see my house.

I have since contacted more people at the City, nobody could help me, but it was suggested that I write to this newspaper.  

What really needs to happen is a change needs to be made to the Fence Ordinance when it affects a neighbor’s ocean view, and Design Review should be involved. I am volunteering to help start a committee to change the fence ordinance, please contact me if you’re interested in helping. I would not wish this to happen to anybody else. It seems like it’s the end of friendly neighborhoods in my town, which is the saddest part.

Melinda Zoller

Laguna Beach

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