Walls, Fences, and Streetscapes

Albuquerque’s Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) fosters healthy streetscapes. Streetscape refers to the relationship between houses and the public way; what we see as we walk, bike, or drive through a neighborhood. When Nob Hill was built in the early 20th century architectural designers believed that houses should communicate well with the street. Looking out of our homes today we can see nearby houses, neighbors, and passersby. Eyes-on-the-street is a key component of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.

The first 20 ft. inside a lot’s front property line is known as the front setback. The IDO allows a wall or fence 3 ft. high or less in the front setback of a residential lot after obtaining a WALL PERMIT-MINOR.

 A wall or fence higher than 3 ft. in the front setback of a residential lot requires a WALL PERMIT-MAJOR which is considered by the Zoning Hearing Examiner in a public hearing. If the examiner issues a permit the wall must meet standards with respect to eyes-on-the-street and materials. A WALL PERMIT-MAJOR is not available in several areas of the city, one of which is Monte Vista and College View Historic District.

Because they diminish streetscape, historic character, and eyes-on-the-street, your Nob Hill Neighborhood Association discourages fences or walls higher than 3 ft. in front setbacks. Information about permits can be obtained from CABQ Zoning at 924-3857 or from a reliable architect or landscape architect.



A Nob Hill house from the public way; well-preserved scale, massing, materials, and details contribute to historic streetscape and eyes-on-the-street.





House near Nob Hill with a 6 ft. wall in the front setback diminishing historic character and eyes-on-the-street




Here are excerpts of the IDO related to walls and fences in front setbacks of residential neighborhoods

Subsection 5-7: Walls and Fences…..5-7(A)….this section regulates walls, fences…collectively referred to as “walls” in order to enhance the visual appearance of development in the city; establish a consistent attractive streetscape…..and promote neighborhood character. 

5-7(B) A wall shall be erected only after obtaining a permit, pursuant to the provision in Subsection 6-5(J) (WALL OR FENCE PERMIT-MINOR)……max 3 ft. in front yard


6-6(N) (WALL PERMIT-MAJOR, Variance – ZHE) 

5-7(C)(2) Walls may not encroach onto any public right-of-way without the prior written approval from the City Engineer… 

5-7(D)(1)……walls shall comply with the height standards in Table 5-7-1 Maximum Wall Height….Wall in the front yard or street side yard, Residential, 3 ft.…..Footnote [1] A Variance-ZHE for a wall greater than 3 ft. in height on a lot with low-density residential development may be approved pursuant to the criteria in 6-6(N)(3)(c) if it meets the standards in Table 5-7-2. 

5-7(D)(3)(e) Walls greater than 3 ft. in height are not allowed in any front or street side yard on lots…in the following mapped areas. No variance to this provision is allowed in these areas.

  1. Monte Vista and College View Historic District 

Subsection 6-5(J)…The (Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO)  shall…make a decision on the Wall or Fence Permit-Minor 

Subsection 6-6: Decisions Requiring a Public Meeting or Hearing 

6-6(N)(3)(c) WALL PERMIT-MAJOR; Variance for a Taller Front or Side Yard Wall…..An application for a Variance for a wall in the front or street side yard of a lot in a Residential zone district…shall be approved if it meets all the following criteria:

  1. The proposed wall would strengthen or reinforce the architectural character of the surrounding area.
  2. The proposed wall would not be injurious to adjacent properties, the surrounding neighborhood, or the larger community.
  3. The wall is proposed on a lot that meets any of the following criteria:
    1. The lot is a least ½ acre
    2. The lot fronts a street designated as a collector or above in the LRTS Guide.
    3. At least 20% of the properties within 330 ft. of the lot where the wall or fence is being requested have a wall or fence over 3 ft. in the front yard.
  4. The design of the wall complies with any applicable standards in section 5-7 (walls and fences)…..and all of the following:
    1. The wall or fence shall not block the view of any portion of any window on the front façade of the primary building when viewed from 5 ft. above the ground level at the centerline of the street in front of the house.
    2. The design and materials proposed for the wall or fence shall reflect the architectural character of the surrounding area.


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