Atherton's current practice of allowing everything from wireless facilities to big rocks to be placed in the town's right-of-way should change, City Council members said at a study session on Feb. 4.
Council members said residents should help craft a new encroachment ordinance and the town should make sure everyone knows about the new regulations before starting enforcement.
The town began discussing the subject as a way to give residents of Parker Avenue, where the town has a 70-foot right-of-way, a formal way to use some of the town's property in front of their homes.
The town has also looked at the use of its right-of-way while exploring of ways of making the town safer for bikes and pedestrians.
In his report to the council, City Manager George Rodericks says private improvements on the town's property include "wireless facilities, fencing, walls, landscaping, mailboxes, security panels, pathways, pavement, stepping stones, large drainage facilities, rocks, and/or lumber barriers."
"Because they are essentially unregulated, the private improvements place the town at considerable risk," he says.
The proposed regulations would allow "revocable permits" for objects in the right-of-way. Council members said it will be important to enforce the regulations, such as those that currently say fences can't be more than 3 feet tall near an intersection, or that gate keypads and intercoms, logs and rocks must all be at least 6 feet from the pavement edge.
"I think this is way overdue," said council member Elizabeth Lewis. "It's a big task that we are undertaking."
City Attorney William Conners said that the council might consider an amortization period for items that aren't safety hazards, allowing non-conforming items to remain for a set period of time.
Council members will form an ad hoc committee to decide how to publicize the new regulations once a draft has been crafted.