Corner lots, setbacks, landscaping and fences in Silicon Valley

Fence regulations in San Jose When you purchase a house on a corner lot, you may not realize that most likely there will be additional requirements of you regarding your landscaping compared to other properties which are not on the corner.  This is because corner lots need to provide a “line of sight” so drivers of cars can see what’s ahead should they round the corner.

In most parts of Silicon Valley (San Jose, Los Gatos and elsewhere), in the setback area of a corner lot you will not be allowed to have fences or landscaping that are more than 3′ tall – with the possible exception of a tree in which the branches really only fan out at a height of 7-8′ or more.

For properties which are not on a corner, drivers don’t really need to see through the property to get visibility on the road ahead, so the landscaping rules are much less restrictive.

These rules are not often or uniformly enforced from what I can tell, but you never know when a code compliance officer might show up with the requirement that you thin out or remove some landscaping or fencework, so keep that in mind if you buy a house on a corner lot that is heavily landscaped too close to the street.  Also, check with your own municipality (Campbell, Santa Clara, the county if not in an incorporated area, etc.) to see the residential real estate codes which apply in your specific property’s case.