BEVERLY HILLS—The Beverly Hills Planning Commission held a study on January 12, to review the possibility of extending allowable wall, fence and hedge heights for private residences in the Central, Hillside, and Trousdale Estate areas. The Commission determined the increase would cause more security risks than benefits and decided not to move forward with it. 

The study was initiated by Beverly Hills City Councilmember John Mirisch after an ordinance was passed by City Council in October 2022 for areas that are deemed to be highest for security risks and crime. The ordinance would allow property owners to increase walls from 8 feet to 10 feet and 16 feet for hedges. The majority of the height regulations for walls, fences, and hedges for the multi-family residential zone are the same as those that apply to the single-family residential zone in the Central Area; which is said to be the area with the highest crime rate.

The commissioners felt that the increase in height could give potential suspects a place to hide and could increase the chances of collisions as vehicles pull out of their driveways. They commented on the importance of maintaining the city’s aesthetic appeal. 

Both the Planning Commission and City Council expressed interest in obtaining the perspective from the Beverly Hills Police Department that wrote in a statement:

“The Planning Commission’s consideration of an increase of fence and hedge heights from 8 feet to 10 feet does not have an impact on BHPD’s response capabilities. Generally, opportunist criminals look for the path of least resistance and potential soft entry points to a property. Additional hardening of the target, with taller hedges and fences, may be a deterrent.”

The only obstacle for the BHPD staff was that a taller wall/fence/hedge may make it slightly more difficult for police to access a property in case of an emergency.

Staff and members of the City Council received comments from the public who feel the maximum heights for walls, fences, and hedges are too low, and that they desire for Beverly Hills to increase the allowable height for safety and privacy purposes. The city has experienced a higher level of property crime in recent months.

Andrew Gitkin stated in a written comment to the Planning Commission:

“Having the ability to reinforce our rear alley walls with higher hedges to deter crime is very important.”

Some members of the Trousdale community felt the increase in height could be a potential fire hazard. Karen Platt, co-president of the Trousdale Estates Neighborhood Association stated that the increase in height would make it more difficult for the fire department to access a property. “Trousdale is in the highest possible wildfire risk area,” said Platt. 

Other security methods that were discussed during the meeting include camera systems, motion sensor alarms, maintaining landscaping so it communicates an active presence and having a dog. The commission considered a possible extension on maximum allowable camera pole heights and asked staff to return with a report on this at a later meeting.