Comment of the Day: In the Heights, Good Fences Make Good Pedestrians

COMMENT OF THE DAY: IN THE HEIGHTS, GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD PEDESTRIANS “Front yard fences in the Heights are to keep people from walking through your yard. Many streets do not have sidewalks, and some pedestrians don’t understand that the edge of the yard is where you are supposed to walk. We don’t have a front yard fence due to the city easement, and people have come up almost to the front door going through the yard. It is a little unsettling.” [Janice, commenting on One in a Row Behind the Orange Show]

19 Comment

  • To quote the great Jane Jacobs, “There must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings.” But at the same time “there must be eyes upon the street.” Janice, can you not plant a neat low row of bushes or make a nice picket fence on your side of the property line?

  • I would never live in a house again without a fenced front yard. Most people don’t even use their front yards, its just a big show of grass, but when you fence it in you get the benefit of security by keeping out the roaming folk after dark and offers piece of mind when your young kids play outside without a close eye on them.

  • I appreciate the fenced in front yards in the Heights for keeping my toddler from wandering up the walk way to the front door. He lets out quite a head turning fuss when you make him change directions.

  • The crime in the Heights is not over-stated. Most of the folks who live in the Heights have been a victim of a crime or two if they have been there more than 2 years…The Heights is a nice area surrounded by a giant city with easy access…to multiple freeways. Its a crime hot spot and that is not changing – its getting worse. The fences in the front have nothing to do with talk radio or the burbs, but entirely to do with an astronomical amount of petty (mostly non-violent) crime.

  • I would put signs all over the front yard with “Land Mines” on it.

  • Maybe there is a block or two in the Heights without sidewalks, but I haven’t seen it. I suppose most people put up those fences in an attempt to keep people from stealing pottery and chairs off of porches, something that has happened to my neighbors several times. But, due to lack of sidewalks? Uh uh.

  • We have done what we can on our edge of the property line, but in my part of The Heights (not the fancy part) we don’t have many sidewalks. Most of my front yard is actually easement, so as much as I would like to put a fence around it for my dogs to enjoy, I can’t. Yes we’ve had a plant stolen from the front, but that was merely annoying. It’s more like when I need to take my dogs out in the evening or early morning, and I encounter someone wandering through your yard. As far as the “land mines” suggestions, I do tend to leave some from my dogs in the yard.

  • Fences are fine as long as tasteful, not some chain link job to house your Pit Bull and keep your old wheel less jalopy–there is a fine line–personally unless they’re of the Victorian wrought iron variety in the East End of Galveston I’m no fan–they usually make the property owner look like an a-hole with people issues –if you don’t like urban living DON’T chose The Heights!–it’s not Vector Calculus

  • I love my front yard gate (Montrose). The main point seems to be keeping people from coming up and knocking on the door looking for ‘donations’.

  • I love my fence! I love that it acts as a deterrent to both the criminal element in the area and to unwanted solicitors. The latter are especially bad during the political season.

  • I for one want to live in a meighborhood that’s safe enough that I dont need to fence my front yard. (I also dont want to have to run all the way to the outer suburbs to have it, which is why I live in Brays Oaks, but I digress).
    Fenced front yards really are not so different than having bars on the windows – you’ve just detached the bars from the house and put them between the sidewalk and the yard. And you have to ask – what’s so horrible about someone walking on your lawn? When we lived near Sharpstown we would occasionally get the stray neighborhood cat or dog in our front yard. There was a bunch of kids who used to ride bikes around the neighborhood, and they liked to ride up and down our driveway because it was the steepest. Once there was a teen who came up and kicked over our landscape lights, but it was once. Both times that house was burglarized, the thieves came in through the back yard, where we DID have a fence.
    That said, there is one situation where I would be concerned enough to do something about it: if you’re at a corner with lots of pedestrian traffic and it’s killing the grass. In this case a tree (but it has I be big enough) or a boulder will do the trick. No need for a fence.

  • I plan to fence my front yard soon as I hate stepping in some of my less well behaved neighbors dog’s crap. I like to check on my plants and hate when i step on a “landmine” that is 20ft up from the sidewalk in the middle of my yard. I personally like the way front yard fences look normally (not chain link and not over about 4′ tall)

  • @ZAW
    Once again, another article that confuses me about the popularity of the Heights. I live in Braeswood and no one has (or needs) a front yard fence.

  • I’m on one of the busier streets in the Heights…and like alot of Heights owners have more front yard than back. The houses on my block all have the same iron fencing…and it creates a yard that is usable…for pets, children and the grown ups who like to spend time in the yard…we keep it locked, yes, to keep people from wandering up…because why would you want people you dont know wandering around in any part of your yard? in the last 10 years we have left the gate unlocked accidentally only a few times…and EVERY single time, we were reminded to lock it by someone knocking on the front door looking for donations or selling something. It’s incredible because they must just wander the streets trying gate handles…! Anyway, we enjoy our privacy so we keep it locked. The block has some unity because the fences are alike…and it is nice. City living is definitely different than the suburbs where there simply is not as much foot traffic in the big gated (and non gated) neighborhoods… Janice I dont know if it would work, but you might check into those small metal decorative fencing pieces you can get at Home Depot and other places…they are about 2′ long and heights vary, but you can connect them and place them as a barrier…they are not permanent, just push into the ground…along the property line your side of the easement…might be a deterrent….we did that to a patch of grass of ours that wasnt fenced but was getting canine visitors in the middle of the night…it brought the nightly deposits to a stop!

  • I can see where front fences would discourage those pesky trick or treat kids too! ;(

    And the elementary school age kids trying to sell those dollar M&Ms for some sort of school fund.

    And please don’t forget the Girl Scouts hawking their thin mints.

    Yes sir, a lot of money can be saved with a front yard fence.

  • Thanks LudaKris for the temp fence suggestion. That sounds like a reasonable solution.

    Personally PYEWACKET2, I love Girl Scouts and trick or treaters. But in the 4 years we have lived here, we’ve neve had any. I have to buy my cookies at Kroger every year.

  • sure thing Janice…some of them are very nice looking too! And to Pyewacket… I agree with Janice on that point too….the trick or treaters know the best streets to hit…Harvard, Courtland, and a couple of others….and I have not seen Girl Scouts go door to door in years in areas like the Heights…they all seem to park it and pounce in front of Kroger! Good luck Janice with your front yard!

  • The Heights is totally full of iron fences and bars bordering the sidewalks, where there are sidewalks. From block to block, over and over, it goes on forever. Is everybody afraid there? What is the difference between that area and Kipling/Dunlavy where I’ve been renting? Hardly anybody here has fences in front of their houses. There’s only one front fence on my whole block. Otherwise it’s just sloping lawns. Is the Heights that criminally bad? I understand that it actually is pretty bad with property crimes,from what my friends told me that live there etc. It’s just so unfortunate. Heights has such beautiful architecture and history. It’s a shame everyone there is being forced to barricade themselves. But it also reminds me of the Pacific / Fairview/ Hopkins neighborhood as it looks now. If you walk around there it’s the same endless rows of iron bars along the sidewalk where everybody is barricading themselves in there too.

  • I have a 3’fence in my front yard. I don’t mind short fences or tall iron fences, but privacy wood fences should not be in the front yard. They actually make you less safe in your home and they take away from the community feel of the neighborhood.