We love our fences in California, but the wrong type of fence can really leave a bad impression. When a fence is too tall, resembles prison bars, obstructs the view of the house, is plain ugly or screams “leave me alone”, it’s probably not enhancing the image of the neighborhood. There are many reasons why fences exist, but regardless of the reasons, when a community grows to have numerous fences like this, it promotes a blighted feel.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m NOT saying you are causing blight in your community if you have a certain type of fence. I’m only saying the way houses look communicate something to the rest of the neighborhood, make a reflection upon the entire community and ultimately impact property value. As much as we like to think we live on parcel islands, the truth is what we do (or don’t do) to the front of our parcels impacts how others view the neighborhood. If you don’t believe neighborhood presentation can influence the way others feel about the community, read a case study of Diggs Town Public Housing.
Removing or changing the type of fence may not erase the blight label from a neighborhood, but it is often one cog in the system. Blight is a complex reality that occurs over time, so beginning to breathe life back into a community involves removing characteristics that send a negative message and adding features that are more welcoming. I know design is a very subjective thing, but people’s feelings are too. If we want to see property values increase, people need to feel good about the neighborhood.
How do you think fences can help shape the image of a community? What factors would you say contribute to a blighted feel for a neighborhood? Which fences below seem welcoming and evoke friendliness? Which designs may give off a negative vibe?
This is post # 2 in the “Blight Week” series on the Sacramento Appraisal Blog.