The changes define projections into yards such as a balcony, car port, deck or patio, and it prohibits those projections from coming closer than three feet to the property line.
“The intent is to ensure a safe travel distance … between any structure and the fence, especially in side yards,” states Senior Planner Ken Strelo in a staff report.
The Planning Commission suggested that there be some flexibility in the regulations to allow enhanced landscaping (such as a trellis), shade and privacy. “The Planning Commission recommendation makes a lot of sense, and we would like to look into it further,” Strelo told the City Council at its Jan. 13 meeting.
Councilman Bruce Connelley asked whether the regulations would affect temporary structures that residents put up, such as a canopy or large umbrella.
“I want to make sure that it’s clear that we are talking about permanent structures,” he said. “It could be construed that we are telling people what they can and cannot do in their own back yard or side yard. If it’s a permanent structure and so close to your neighbor that it could be a fire hazard, I could see that.”
Strelo assured him that the ordinance pertains to permanent structures.
Councilwoman Pat Anderson defended the regulations as a way to ensure access through side yards for emergency crews, if necessary, and that most residents need not fear government intrusion.
“We are not going to have Nazis going out there looking for structures,” she said. “These are reported by complaint. It’s not as though if this goes in, suddenly everybody who has this should be scared to death that we will have to tear everything down.”
In other action:
• The council approved an agreement with the Vesper Society to provide $50,000 for Oakley youth programs in 2009. “I thank you for the investment in our community,” Anderson told Vesper representatives in attendance at the meeting.
• Connelley railed against Phil Isenburg, chairman of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, which recommended constructing a peripheral canal to take water from the river near Sacramento and channel it to pumping plants south of Byron, which local officials fear would reduce fresh water flows into the rest of the Delta.
“I call him ‘Slick Phil,’” said Connelley. “He’s made the statement that the Delta is not sustainable. That’s bull-pucky. We are going to rise up. I have been asked to lead to some degree a way to wake up the entire state about the situation that’s been going on and take it to the Capitol. The politicking in Sacramento has got to stop – all of the fighting and the underhanded dealings that are going on up there. Right now they want to destroy our Delta. It’s not just the drinking water that will go by the wayside.”
• Anderson said that a recent meeting was held to discuss fire protection in far East County, which is under the control of the county Board of Supervisors, and “it looks like they are considering ideas to bring a three-man crew to Oakley.” Currently, only two firefighters are assigned to each truck in far East County, while in other areas of the county there are three.