Santa Barbara Municipal Code (SBMC) §28.87.170 regulates the height and location of fences, screens, walls and hedges on private property in residential zones. In 2008, after being inundated with complaints from citizens about spite hedges and fences, the City of Santa Barbara temporarily suspended enforcement of the hedge ordinance.
Effective May 8, 2014, the City Council adopted Amendments to the Ordinance and a Resolution to Approve the Fences, Screens, Walls and Hedges Guidelines. Simply click on the link below to access Title 28 (Santa Barbara’s Zoning Ordinance) containing the amended hedge ordinance at Section 28.87.170
Under the new rules, hedges bordering backyards and side yards (required setbacks) are permitted up to eight feet, but City staff has discretion to allow additional feet if the neighbors sharing a common property line nearest the hedge agree. Hedges in front yards (near front lot lines) are also limited to eight feet in height, and there are further limitations on hedge heights on corner lots and near driveways. There are some exceptions that can be met if the additional hedge height does not create or exacerbate any safety issues and the granting of the exception will not be detrimental to the use and enjoyment of the other properties in the neighborhood. If you have any questions about how this amended ordinance affects you rights, please contact attorney Kevin R. Nimmons.