EDITORIAL:

If residents want a fence in their front or side yards, they should be allowed to have it as long as it meets certain height restrictions, which the city needs to set.

Some people like open, unobstructed front yards. Others dream of charming white picket fences or historic-looking stone walls. But no matter what your preference, you should get to decide for your own property.

Certainly it should not be a free-for-all ending in 8-foot brick walls lining every street and making for a dark and uninviting city. But as so very many cities do, Glendale should set limits on front- and side-yard fencing without such absolute mandates to property owners.

Back in 1922, when the city banned frontyard walls and fences, the idea was to preserve open vistas throughout Glendale’s nascent landscape. But that was a very different Glendale than today, where remnants of the 1920s, at best, barely coexist with the realities of 2008: traffic, downtown development, speeding cars, more people, more pets, more need for privacy. For many in this community, quality of life isn’t as much about preserving vistas as it is about making sure little Johnny or Jennifer doesn’t run into the street after Rover and get hit by a car going 70 mph on some narrow street.

Quality of life for many people is also about exercising their rights to their property, which means they shouldn’t have to deal with intrusive, perhaps antiquated laws that offer overbearing edicts about what they can or can’t put on their property.

If someone wants a white picket fence around their frontyard, then let them have it. It’s not hurting anyone.

That said, there’s a point where walls and fences do impose on quality of life in neighborhoods. That law has to take into account the needs of various parts of Glendale, which in many cases don’t fit the 1920s model the original law was based on. It needs to take into account the mountainous areas as well as the flatlands, and perhaps there will be equestrian-zoned area exceptions. But an all-out ban is intrusive and unnecessary.


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