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Hedge Height Increase
updated: Feb 26, 2014, 10:40 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

A Santa Barbara City Council Ordinance committee met yesterday (2/25/14), and have recommended that the total height of solid front walls and hedges, next to sidewalks and driveways, be allowed to increase from "3'6" to a total of "7'6" inches in height.

Do you agree this is a safe idea for all the mobile children and students walking and running on the sidewalks, while cars are exiting their driveways?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 497934 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 10:49 AM

I think it is a great and reasonable idea. 3'6 is ridiculously low and provides no privacy. Part of the reason they are altering this law is there is zero enforcement of it as you can see around town and has been found to be out of date for the needs of the home owners in SB.


 COMMENT 497935 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 10:52 AM

No…I totally disagree. UNLESS the ordinance also says that the area 2 feet on either side of a driveway must be no more than 3 feet high.


 COMMENT 497936 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 10:53 AM

this would just codify what is already the reality for many yards, at least in my neighborhood on the westside. Many of the hedges are even taller than 7'6". What did the committee say about the safety aspect?

I was hit by a car backing out of his driveway about a year ago and the next day they cut down the offending hedge to code height. Because they did that, I didn't get him to pay my medical copays for my fractured finger. It is much safer for everyone now.

There will definitely be more injuries so people better make sure their homeowner policies are paid up, or that their renters carry policies.


 COMMENT 497937 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 10:54 AM

It's already ridiculously hard to see down some streets anyway with cars parked on either side. When I exit my driveway, I can easily see the sidewalk but cars coming down the street? No way. I have to pull alll the way out to see anything.


 COMMENT 497942 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 10:57 AM

I think this is good, I do not like the City telling me what to do with my property.

I understand this was for safety, but unless it can be enforced fairly thoughout the city what is the point? I don't think people will want the City to hire someone just for this law when it is clear they don't currently have the staff.


 COMMENT 497947 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:00 AM

I have a 7 ft hedge in the county and it's awesome. It divides our yards and is far from the driveways so visibility is not an issue when pulling in and out of driveways.


 COMMENT 497948 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:02 AM

I think it's a great idea. Since the city is not doing enough to protect citizens from gang/drug/homeless violence, the least they can do is allow homeowners the right to not have to see/hear it. Any house in this city is expensive and people should be able to at least pretend they are safe in their little, inflated piece of Paradise.


 COMMENT 497949P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:04 AM

Look around at the all the tall hedges-most are way higher than necessary for privacy.They are also more expensive to maintain and there is a great danger to the workers who have to get up on ladders to trim them.

Besides the expense of overly tall hedges, much beautiful architecture ends up hidden from view and we loose a sense of community. If you want to see a community that lacks the sense of community, just head out to Montecito to get a a taste of that.


 COMMENT 497952 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:07 AM

Love it! I feel like there are too many people walking by and looking in windows, plus my dogs will be calmer when they can't so easily hear and see people going by.


 COMMENT 497953 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:10 AM

Montecito walled-off estates, why shouldn't we?


 COMMENT 497964 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:42 AM

Yea, but don't you have to WATER those hedges?


 COMMENT 497966P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:46 AM

There are always risks. Hedges do block some sight lines. But they also offer privacy in crowded neighborhoods and serve to buffer from noisy sidewalks and streets. And they're GREEN! For many people, life without the buffers would be hellish. So it's a trade-off. People who don't depend on greenery to preserve their space and block prying eyes and intruders might be happy to see them chopped down. But those who value what's left of a right to privacy in this over-crowded town should have the right to a planted barrier. Yep...it means driving carefully, and walking carefully; and keeping an eye open. So what's new?


 COMMENT 497968 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:51 AM

It should matter whether the hedge is set back from the street and there is no sideway--in this situation a car can see up and down the street once they clear the hedge.

However, if there is a sidewalk next to the hedge the present requirement makes sense, at least for a few feet on either side of the sidewalk.


 COMMENT 497970P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 11:53 AM

This is a GREAT idea. How often do you see kids playing in their front yards anymore? Almost never. Being able to securely enclose certain areas of your property should be your prerogative as a homeowner. If you want privacy and security, you should be able to have it as long as it does not endanger anyone else.


 COMMENT 497991 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 12:48 PM

Remember, this is not just hedges, but solid walls too. Our town will start to look like walled off mini-estates. Can we put broken glass on the tops to keep people from climbing over?

I always thought one reason for the low height was to allow police to see in while driving by. If your house is surrounded by a wall or hedge, criminals will have full rein to do what they want protected from view.


 COMMENT 497996 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 01:00 PM

Here on the Westside the walkers are frequent, including kids and children. I keep my hedges down to the current maximum for safety. Greater privacy is nice, but I won't risk striking a person or animal. Aside from my liability (regardless of the city's regulations), it would be devastating to strike a person or animal. Also, high hedges encourage break-ins from my anecdotal observation. If regulations change, my neighbor might not cooperate on the lower height.


 COMMENT 498004 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 01:17 PM

996 - thank you for the intelligent response. I do the same for my property near Mission. There is so much foot traffic and I could never forgive myself if I hit someone - so much so that I park nose out (the benefits of having deleted the lawn in the backyard....more room to swerve the ride). Guess it's a good thing that the CC has so much time on their hands - they can sift through nonsense like this.


 COMMENT 498009 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 01:23 PM

Whether you agree or disagree you may want to let the City Council Members know how you feel before they vote on this.


 COMMENT 498010P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 01:30 PM

What is making people so insecure? Maybe the city council should address that.


 COMMENT 498013P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 01:33 PM

Despite my liberal leftmindedness, issues like this bring out my libertarian gene. Regulating the height of someone's fence or hedges on their private property should only be based on specific safety concerns. If, like many homes, the fence is set back from the sidewalk/street there should be no interference by government.


 COMMENT 498022 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 01:54 PM

Ugh. Time to move.


 COMMENT 498033 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 02:14 PM

I think high hedges are great downtown. When ever i have to go to the bathroom, i just duck behind one and go. Since there are not a bunch of public restrooms, it really helps!


 COMMENT 498038P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 02:23 PM

I thought the ordinance was for parts of the front hedges could be 7'-6" (like at entry gates, etc) and not near driveways. Are you sure you read it correctly?


 COMMENT 498051 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 03:03 PM

More walls and hedges is a bad idea. Why does everyone want to hide? Neighbors that can see each other are more likely to be friendly, and reduce neighborhood crime. Street scenes are much better when you can see the houses, and not just a canyon of walls, and safety for people pulling in/out of driveways, and turning corners is better without tall walls. In my neighborhood, where there are no sidewalks, cars coming around a corner have very limited visibility when there are tall hedges. I would rather see them enforce the current law and make more people trim their hedges.


 COMMENT 498062 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 03:34 PM

I think everyone should be able to do what they want with they land. We do pay high taxes. Plus they are going to put neighbor against neighbor by allowing them to turn in your neighbors. This is not the kind of town we need. Please go to the next city council meeting and listen to what they have to say.


 COMMENT 498123P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 06:16 PM

I love this. Before, if you were in "old town" your hedge could be higher. Ditto the upper east. All neighborhoods should be treated the same and residents should have their privacy. If you have to back out of your driveway, install a mirror and/or honk.


 SBSLOTH agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 07:01 PM

I think allowing higher hedges/walls is perfectly reasonable.People should be allowed to do what they want with their property, as long as it doesn't create a hazard for other people. The issue of safety and traffic/pedestrian visibility is a separate issue from the height allowance that should also be addressed at the same time, i.e. allow the height increase, but only if safety is not compromised. I'm sure the ordinance could be worded to make it clear that there has to be adequate visibility so that cars entering and exiting a driveway can see passing pedestrians, cyclists, and cars. A lot of people use mirrors positioned at the corners of their drive so they can see what's coming. If the ordinance is worded to say that there has to be traffic visibility for a certain number of feet in both directions, that should take care of the safety issue.


 COMMENT 498143P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 07:49 PM

As someone who has been narrowly missed by cars backing out, I think this is a bad idea.


 COMMENT 498155P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 08:46 PM

I haven't read the comments yet. I went to the meeting and planned to speak. When I left home at 11:45, the city website listed this as #3 on the agenda. When I got to the meeting, it had been rescheduled to #1. This is a Brown Act violation; the vote isn't valid as far as I know.


 COMMENT 498161 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-26 10:45 PM

The website that contains the city's current and proposed ordinances, Planning Commission staff reports, etc.



 COMMENT 498171 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 06:19 AM

We took down all of the hedges around our house because the rats loved them. Eating outside was not as lovely when a rat would pop out of the hedge and then run atop of the fence! I would much rather see my neighbors!


 COMMENT 498177 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 06:45 AM

I think there needs to be strict control of walls and hedges that block driveway line-of-sight, but where safety isn't an issue, hey, whatever floats your boat. Folks who block the visibility from driveways into sidewalks and streets ought to be held financially responsible for the consequences of their unwise aesthetic choices, though. We had to deal with a close call with a little kid on a bike before our neighbor would cut her hedge 5-6" lower to let us see decently pulling out of our driveway. She still has it high enough so we park our small car on the street, but with a normal sedan we can peek over the top. Bad situation, and technically her hedge is below 3 1/2 feet.


 COMMENT 498182 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 06:57 AM

I think it's a GREAT idea, our neighbors don't give a hoot they just sit in their windows and watch us with low walls & fence and i'm so tired of people simply tossing things in the yard and jumping over the fence when they feel like it with no respect to our property. Costs a ton to live here and we want more protection and privacy for our property instead of being on "display" because someone else wants to view our home. Higher walls/bushes increase security IMO.


 COMMENT 498191P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 07:29 AM

The ordinance reads that the hedges still need to conform to the lower standard within ten feet of the driveway. If you have fifty foot wide lot, then that translates to half your lot width when driveway width is taken into consideration. Hedges that bounce up and down in height will look ridiculous!
Hedges should also not encroach the sidewalk. Many are trimmed to gradually move out over the sidewalk and one can no longer pass by or see around for traffic safety at street corners.


 COMMENT 498193 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 07:32 AM

I like privacy because I'm always doing stuff no one should see.


 RESIDENT agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 07:45 AM

It would help if people actually read the proposed ordinance changes before expressing opinions about it.

There has been a lot of misunderstanding expressed in the comments here.


 COMMENT 498203 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 07:58 AM

I loved visiting back east where there were no hedges in front of homes or between them (at least in the front yards). Far more neighborly and secure. I grew up on the upper eastside on Santa Barbara Street and would love to see no hedges along there. The only people walking the area around are neighbors. If I ever buy my folks' house, the first thing I would do is tear out those hedges.


 COMMENT 498233 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 09:01 AM

How do they intend to get everyone to cut down beautiful hedges. Look around town they are everywhere. Now remember they are not just talking about driveway blocking hedges this means all the beautiful hedges in front of homes. I for one do not have a hedge but I love looking at them and have no problem with the trees and hedges. This adds to the beauty of this town. Do we really want the neighborhood trouble maker reporting hedges and putting neighbors in control of turning each other in? Please writh a letter or go to the city council and see if we can make some fairness for those who own their land.


 COMMENT 498423 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 03:25 PM

Excellent idea. We are not on display in our own homes for everyone to see. If the wall or hedge is tall, position a mirror to see of anyone is walking or biking near your driveway.


 COMMENT 498491 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-27 07:36 PM

. This is an older ordinance that has been around a long time. It was suspended a few years ago because some one went all over SB and brought complaints against 40 or 50 different lots. .
Any hedge or fence within 10 feet of the front lot line must be no higher than 3.5'. ThePlanning Com. had a lot of trouble with these proposals and asked staff to abandon some of these arbitrary restrictions. For example, they brought up that hedges and fences/walls are two different things and should be treated differently. They also brought up that many roads in SB are on hills and one side is lower than the other side so 3.5' on the lower side would amount to no privacy at all. They also brought up that 8' is not going to provide privacy between neighbors where a 2nd story is involved. All of these great points were ignored by staff and CC as far as I can tell.


 COMMENT 506305 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-27 11:58 AM

We are a town of absolute crazies ! Look out for the hedge police ! Next order of business---If our hedges/walls don't look "Spanish" enough we'll probably be ordered to destroy them.


 COMMENT 506306 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-27 12:03 PM

I'm thinking about hedging strategies and putting together a hedge fund.

Seriously, it's OK to build Badobe monstrosities that tower over downtown but hedges must be cut down? Arrgh.


 COMMENT 506355 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-27 01:52 PM

Houses are packed into SB like sardines--hedges provide privacy.
Thank you Santa Barbara City Council Ordinance committee


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