Cerritos Rebuilds Its Barrier : Fence Drives Neighbors Up the Wall

Times Staff Writer

The way Curtis Hare sees it, tall fences make bad neighbors.

In protest of a wooden fence recently rebuilt in front of his modest home, Hare, who lives in an “island” of Orange County next to Cerritos, posted a sign that likens the fence to the Berlin Wall.

The sign reads: “To Mayor Don Knabe and the Cerritos City Council: I know of two other places that have built barriers on their boundary’s to prevent entering or defecting. They are the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall. Both are run by communist.” It is signed “Your neighbors.”

Hare said Cerritos officials replaced an 11-year-old wooden fence--just inches from his property line--to block the view to county island homes and thus appease the owners of upscale homes across the street in Cerritos, where neighbors have complained of the Orange County properties being unkempt.


Access to Road Blocked

Besides being a nuisance, the fence blocks their access to the main road and prevents others from finding them, Hare said.

“There’s the possibility that I might have another (heart attack), and I want to be found,” he said. Emergency vehicles have had trouble locating neighborhood addresses in the past, Hare said.

Cerritos spokeswoman Michele Ogle said the City Council voted July 7 to rebuild the fence because it posed a safety hazard when Denni Street residents pulled their cars onto the street from gaps in the old wooden fence. Another danger, she said, was that the main street is several inches lower than the asphalt driveway being used by Orange County residents.


Neither Mayor Knabe nor City Manager Gaylord F. Knapp could be reached for comment, but Ogle said Knabe is not pleased with the sign.

Temporary Solution

A contracting firm finished installing the fence the week of July 28, and workers were heckled by Orange County residents who protested the fence. However, “it didn’t totally inhibit the job from being completed,” Ogle said.

She said the city looks at the block-long, $10,500 fence as a temporary solution until Orange County begins improvements on Denni Street, such as new curbs and sidewalks, in perhaps two years.


Jim McMahon, president of a homeowners’ group in the Cerritos tract, said he and his Shadow Run neighbors are pleased with the new fence.

“We would be happy if it stays that way, as long as it’s properly maintained,” McMahon said. “The main thing is that we don’t want to have to look at their property.”

He said the fence keeps barnyard animals in the Orange County side from passing to their tract and has improved traffic safety on Denni. The older properties in the county island lower the values of their properties, McMahon said.