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Old Town Lake Oswego Fencing Code: Visual Enhancement vs. Visual Barrier

Lake Oswego BridgeIf you are planning a fence installation project in Lake Oswego, Ore., there are several things that you should know about the Old Town Lake Oswego fencing code.

An important aspect of this code is that, with the exception of stone fences, any new fence installation within the Old Town Neighborhood (i.e., within the Downtown Development district, or DD Zone) must be used in an ornamental or symbolic manner, as opposed to creating a visual barrier. In other words, Lake Oswego cedar fencing (as well as vinyl, aluminum and other non-stone materials) must serve a mainly decorative (not obstructive) purpose.

With respect to fence design, there are several important points to remember in downtown Lake Oswego:

  • Fencing is not required but should be used in an ornamental or symbolic manner, as stated above.
  • Retention of existing stone fences and construction of new stone fencing is encouraged.
  • The maximum fence height in the front yard set-back area is 4 feet. (The set-back space is the distance between the property line and structures.)
  • Chain link fencing is prohibited except in backyards.
  • There is an “Open Design” stipulation for fences over 5 feet. Open designs allow air and light to filter through the fence.

Here are a few more general guidelines for fences, according to the City of Lake Oswego (March 2012):

  • The maximum height of your fence can vary. Fences and walls in residential areas should not exceed 6 feet, but there are cases where the maximum height is 4 feet or even 30 inches. When planning a fence, consult with the city to make sure your fence design is acceptable.
  • Fences and walls in residential zones should not be taller than 4 feet in areas that are located within 10 feet of a property line, or which abut a public street or easement serving more than two lots.
  • Fences, gates, retaining walls and porticos need to comply with the Lake Oswego city code regarding vision clearance (50.06.011).

Building Permits and Good-Neighbor Fencing

Building permits are needed for fences or walls over 6 feet in height. The Lake Oswego good neighbor requirement stipulates that unfinished or structural sides must not face outwards without written consent from neighbors.

These guidelines should help you understand the Lake Oswego cedar fence policy. Call the city if you have other questions related to fence installation or fence design in Lake Oswego.

Cedar Fencing Products to Consider

There are many fence design products that will comply with Lake Oswego requirements, but one outstanding choice is picket fencing. It is easy to find picket fencing shorter than 4 feet tall, and by spacing the pickets you can also avoid creating a visual barrier. This product is available in 4-inch cedar boards in lengths ranging from 2-4 feet. There are also a number of styles, including flat or gothic top, which will help comply with the ornamental requirement of Lake Oswego city code.

[ Photo by: SoulRider.222, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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