A front yard fence above the city’s height limit will now be lowered to its original size, according to the son of the owner living at the property in the 1700 block of Mission Street in South Pasadena.
Concerned about individuals peering into their yard, homeless and criminal activity in the area, Bobby Kuo reached out to the City Council in mid-January hoping the family wouldn’t be forced to lower a 6-foot fence in front of his family’s home across from the Rite Aid parking lot.
Prior to the January 16 council meeting, Kuo and his mother, who owns the corner lot and asked not to be identified, were told by the city’s Planning Department the fence it must be reduced in height to meet a city ordinance.
Kuo pleaded his case to keep it intact but the council couldn’t take action during public comment because it was not an agenda.
In an email, Kuo wrote: “My mom told me she has resolved (the) 6 feet fence issue. She agreed with the City Planning Department to reduce the 6 feet fence back to the original height.”
In talking to the council, Kuo expressed concerns about safety, specifically potential crime and homeless in the area, for raising the fence in December.
“Because we don’t have a backyard, we use the front yard for all of our family activities, such as hosting birthday parties for our two young kids, having BBQs, or relaxing with our kids playing in a kiddy pool during the summer,” Kuo explained to the 5-member panel. “Our front yard is visible from the sidewalk and the street, and right across is Rite Aid’s parking lot, which brings more foot traffic than a typical residential area.”
Kuo says the 6-foot fence currently in place blocks the direct line of sight from the commercial parking lot to the family’s front yard.
“I have seen homeless people walking around the area,” he said. “Most seem harmless, however my mother has been verbally and physically attacked on various occasions by homeless people around the Rite Aid area.”
During the council meeting, Kuo described a situation he said occurred when “two robbers ran across Rite Aid’s parking lot and jumped over the parking lot wall to their vehicle on the street right across from my yard where I was barbecuing with my daughter,” he explained. “From my perspective, they were running directly towards us.”
Kuo’s mother said she was unaware she was not allowed to build 6-foot fence next to the street.
The matter was brought to the attention of South Pasadena City Councilmember Michael Cacciotti, whose District 4 represents the residence. He received a communication from the homeowner regarding the 6-foot white fence she had installed at Mission Street and Brent Avenue, along with a notice she received from the city’s Planning Department regarding non-compliance with the city’s codes.
“In discussing this issue with staff, I also learned that the city received a number of complaints about the fence from residents,” explained Cacciotti. “I promptly met with her at her home to listen to her concerns about the fence and her concerns about public safety.”
Cacciotti asked the homeowner to address her concerns at the January 16 City Council meeting. In the days following, the council member facilitated a meeting with Sgt. Shannon Robledo of the South Pasadena Police Department, and the homeowner to address the woman’s public safety concerns.
“I have asked city planning staff to continue to work with her to try to discuss any possible options to try to resolve the issue and see if we are able to reconcile her concerns with our city code and the multiple residents complaints,” Cacciotti said, noting the legal height limit for a front yard fence in the city is 3 feet.