Item Coversheet

Committee Assignments - C4  T


TO:Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission 
FROM:Jimmy L. Morales, City Manager 
DATE:June  5, 2019



The administration recommends that the City Commission refer the attached ordinance to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.




On April 10, 2019, at the request of Vice-Mayor Joy Malakoff, the City Commission referred the subject discussion item to the Land Use and Development Committee (Item C4 X).  On May 22, 2019 the LUDC discussed the item and recommended that the City Commission refer the draft ordinance to the planning board, as amended for vacant single family home lots.



Fences, walls and gates are regulated in Section 142-1132 of the Land Development Regulations, as allowable encroachments within required yards. The following are the relevant code sections pertaining to chain-link fences.


  1. All districts except I-1 and WD-2:

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d.         Chain link fences are prohibited in the required front yard, and any required yard facing a public right-of-way or waterway (except side yards facing on the terminus of a dead end street in single-family districts) except as provided in this section and in section 142-1134.

e.         Chain link fences may be erected to surround vacant lots or vacant buildings to minimize the possibility of the property becoming a dumping area. Such fence shall be permitted on a temporary basis for a period not to exceed one year and subject to its removal prior to the issuance of a certificate of use or a certificate of occupancy for a main permitted use on the property. In the architectural district, such a fence shall be vinyl coated.

f.          Barbed wire or materials of similar character shall be prohibited.

g.         Vacant lots in the CD-1, CD-2, CD-3, C-PS1, C-PS2, C-PS3, C-PS4, RM-1, RM-2, RM-3, R-PS1, R-PS2, R-PS3, R-PS4, RM-PS1, and MXE districts must be secured against motor vehicle entry at all entry points by a chain, hedge, fence, or other such material approved by the planning and zoning director.


The photos below depict typical chain-link fences around vacant lots in Miami Beach that were poorly constructed and not maintained.



Construction fences are also often poorly constructed, and not maintained. The dust screen wrapping is often punctured with openings to help with wind resistance, and such sites may remain an eyesore for years, as seen in the image below.


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Currently, chain-link fences are generally prohibited, but are allowed in side yards and within rear yards for non-waterfront lots in single family districts. Although they are also allowed to be installed to surround vacant lots for up to one year, there is no requirement that a vacant lot be fenced. In commercial and multifamily districts the only requirement is that they be secured against motor vehicle entry.


In single family districts, when a non-architecturally significant home is demolished, and there is not yet a permit for new construction, the site must be raised to sidewalk elevation, and sodded with drought tolerant sod. There is no requirement that the lot be fenced, but any proposed fencing must consist of aluminum picket type fencing along the entire perimeter.


Vacant lots often become a dumping ground, and requiring that such lots be secured to minimize dumping benefits the surrounding residents and maintains property values. The same can be said for abandoned sites, which includes properties with structures that are unfit for human habitation, as well as for building sites with abandoned or expired permits. Often such lots remain vacant for many years. In order to improve the appearance of vacant lots and abandoned properties, and prevent them from becoming a dumping ground, staff has drafted an ordinance amendment to address the securing and fencing of vacant lots and construction sites. The following is a summary of the proposed amendments that would require all vacant lots and construction sites be fenced and secured:


Minimum fencing requirements in all districts:

The following minimum fence requirements shall apply to all vacant lots, lots containing  any structures with abandoned or expired permits (more than 30 days) that are unfit for human habitation, and lots containing buildings unfit for human habitation.


  • Generally, a seven (7’) foot high fence will be required along all property lines, except those facing a waterway, in which case the height shall be five (5’) feet. In the event an abutting property has an existing fence along an interior side and/or rear property line, and such fence provides adequate securing of the property, the planning director or designee may waive the requirement for a fence along such property lines. Within single family, townhome and all residential districts, the fence shall be setback four (4’) feet from front and side street property lines.


  • Along the front, street side and any waterway portions of the property line, including all required front yards, side street yards and rear yards facing a street or waterway, an aluminum picket fence (or equivalent standard) with permanent quality construction shall be required. Along interior property lines, as well as rear property lines not facing a waterway or street, black or green vinyl coated chain-link fencing, of permanent quality construction, may be permitted, provided such fencing is not located within a required front yard, street side yard or rear yard facing a waterfront.


  • All fences required herein shall be of permanent construction, including concrete foundations.


  • Wherever there is a driveway approach entering the lot, vehicular access onto the site shall be required for maintenance, with a locked gate.


Construction fences in all districts:

Construction fences shall be required along all property lines to surround properties with active building permits and which are unfit for human habitation in accordance with the following requirements:

  • In single family districts construction fences shall be a minimum height of six (6’) feet and maximum height of ten (10’) feet measured from the adjacent grade. In all other districts construction fences shall be a minimum height of six (6’) feet and maximum height of twelve (12’) feet, as measured from adjacent grade.


  • In all districts, construction fences located along a front, side facing the street or waterfront property lines, shall consist of an opaque screening, which may include plywood, or aluminum panels, or the equivalent solid construction on a wood or metal frame.  The exterior face of such fencing shall at a minimum consist of a continuous color finish in single family districts. In all other districts, an artistic mural, which is integral to the fence construction, shall be required, subject to design review approval or a certificate of appropriateness, as applicable.


  • All fences required herein shall be of permanent construction, including concrete foundations.


  • A rolling or rigid folding gate shall be placed as an opening in the fence wherever there is a vehicular access for construction vehicles entering the site. The width of the gate shall not be larger in width than required for access of construction vehicles; however the height may be increased as necessary to provide a rigid frame completely surrounding the vehicular access. The gate shall not be of the swinging type.


Below are some examples of attractive construction fences in Miami Beach:


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