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The City of Portland, Oregon

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Getting Started

A building permit is required when building a fence taller than seven feet. The height is measured from the ground where the posts or supports enter the ground to the top of the fence, including any lattice, posts or any other material added to the top. Fences seven feet in height or less do not need a building permit (unless enclosing a swimming pool) but may need a zoning permit.

For more information, visit the Planning and Zoning staff at the Development Services Center or call (503) 823-7526.

Your building permit will be reviewed under provisions in the Residential Specialty Code. More information on building codes.

Important Things to Consider When Planning Your Project:

(1) Setbacks

Fences may be built on private property, so long as they meet certain height and setback requirements. A setback is the distance measured from your property line to a point inside the property. A setback creates a border inside your property lines. Setback requirements are different in each residential zone. A front setback is usually larger than the side and rear setbacks. For purposes of determining setback, the front is the side that borders a street. On a corner lot, the front is the shortest side of the lot that borders a street. If the street frontages are of equal length, you may choose which to call the front.

Visit the Planning and Zoning staff at the Development Services Center or call (503) 823-7526 for help with:

  • Identifying the zone where the property is located
  • Determining the setback requirements for the project
  • Identifying any requirements if the property is located in a design, greenway or overlay zone

Fences taller than eight feet must meet the requirements listed below:

Zone RF R20 R10 R7 R5 R2.5
Front Setback 20 feet 20 feet 20 feet 15 feet 10 feet 10 feet
Side/Rear Setback 10 feet 10 feet 10 feet 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet

(2) Front Yard Fences
If you are planning to build a fence in your front yard, call the Portland Bureau of Transportation/Engineering at (503) 823-7002 for help in locating property lines along a street. Property lines that divide your lot from your neighbors may be harder to find.

(3) Construction Requirements
See the structural, material, and construction requirements contained in the “Fences” portion of Brochure 3, Fences, Decks and Outdoor Projects. It is important to know that some fences (as outlined in the brochure) require structural design and calculations done by an engineer licensed to practice in Oregon to be submitted with the permit application drawings.

(4) Swimming Pool Barriers
Barriers around swimming pools or spas require additional protection. Requirements for these barriers are found in Appendix G of the Oregon Residential Specialty Code, and general information is contained in the “Swimming Pools” portion of Brochure 3, Fences, Decks and Outdoor Projects.