Outdoor Fence/Junk/Lighting Laws

Residential Fences
Fences over 42 inches tall are prohibited within the first 10 feet of private property in residential zones. The 42 inch maximum also applies to the first 15 feet of private property in commercial zones. Fences must remain no more than six feet tall in interior yard setbacks. If a fence is not within a front yard or interior yard setback it may be over six feet in height with an approved building permit. Please file a complaint on–line or call 682-5819 for more information.

For accumulations of junk (scrap, used building materials, appliances, used furniture, fixtures) on private property for more than 30 days and visible from the public street, please file a complaint on–line or call 682-5819 for more information.

  • For junk abandoned within the public right of way, contact the Public Works Department at 682-4800.
  • For junk outside the City limits, call Lane County Land Management at 682-3724.

Lighting FAQs  What are outdoor lighting standards?
In an effort to improve community livability, outdoor lighting standards were incorporated into Eugene’s land use code when it was updated during the late 1990s. These standards are intended to produce effective and attractive outdoor lighting that is appropriate to the need; conserves energy; and prevents glare, light pollution, and light trespass. The standards require simply that all lighting fixtures shall confine the light they produce within the property boundaries of the site on which they are installed.

How do I know if a light is in violation of the code?
Any outdoor lighting fixture that casts light beyond the property boundaries of the site where it’s installed is in violation of the code. If you stand just beyond the property line (e.g., on the nearest public sidewalk) and can see the light source (or “bulb”) of any lighting fixture, it is in violation even if the source is covered with translucent glass such as a decorative globe.

Doesn’t shining lights downward make it harder to see at night, and endanger personal safety and security?
Quite the contrary. Public safety officers are some of the most avid proponents of good lighting because it’s the glare from unshielded lights that makes it difficult for officers (and the rest of us) to see at night. Our eyes “close down” to adjust to the brightest light in our field of view (e.g., the glare from a poorly designed lighting fixture), so everywhere else (the shadows) becomes even less visible to us. Well-designed lights eliminate the glare and enable us to see far better at night, thus improving personal safety and security.

What does it really matter if lighting fixtures on my property cast light beyond the property boundaries?
Imagine if your neighbors turned on their lawn sprinkler and it sprayed water onto your patio where you were entertaining guests, or into an open window of your house, or out into the street? You’d think that was downright unneighborly—besides being a waste of water and money. It’s the same thing with outdoor lighting. If a lighting fixture on your property casts its light beyond your property, it can shine into neighbors’ windows where it’s unwanted; into the eyes of passersby, causing disabling glare; and into the night sky, where it serves no purpose whatsoever. Moreover, all that undirected light is just a waste of electricity and money.

What does good outdoor lighting look like?
Most of us wouldn’t think of having an unshaded lamp in our living room because the glare of the bare bulb would be very unpleasant to look at. Likewise, when you look at the lighting in the cabin of an airliner or a train, or inside most modern office buildings, you seldom see the light source (unless the lighting is recessed in the ceiling and you’re looking straight up at it). In the same way, good outdoor lighting illuminates the space by directing its light down, not up or sideways. As you approach the building or commercial area, you should not be able to see the source of any of the lighting. Well-designed outdoor lighting is very attractive and enhances the beauty of a building or an outdoor space. Once you see how great good lighting looks, you’ll wonder why we didn’t have these standards many decades ago.

Are there inexpensive ways to shield existing lights to make them more neighborhood-friendly instead of buying a new fixture?
Many conventional porch lights can be quickly and inexpensively shielded to comply with the standards and to make your home and entryway safer and more attractive. Aluminum flashing (6″ or 12″ wide) is the easiest material to work with and is available at any hardware store. If your light is suspended from the porch ceiling, simply make a cylinder of the flashing (use “metal tape” to glue the seam, and fashion tabs to attach it to the ceiling) and place it over the existing fixture. For lights mounted on the side of the building, simply affix a curved piece of flashing in front of the offending bulb. The flashing can be spray painted to make it less obvious, although the flashing’s dull silver color is not itself unattractive in most situations.

Do I need a permit to install a new light?
For safety reasons, you are required to obtain a permit to install any new electrical fixture—including outdoor lighting fixtures—to ensure that the wiring is done properly, etc. If you are simply adding a new fixture to pre-existing wiring, a permit is not necessary.This information provided courtesy

Eugene Outdoor Lighting Advisory Group
P.O. Box 3773
Eugene, Oregon 97403