Mission Hills residents wanting play structures in their yards have 4 new guidelines to follow

Backyard playset

The city of Mission Hills is implementing a set of new guideline that residents will now be "strongly encouraged" to follow if they want to install a play structure in their yard. Photo credit Christian M. M. Brady. Used under a Creative Commons license.

The Mission Hills City Council has set new guidelines for yard play structures and clarified definitions for different types of residential play equipment.

Why it matters: The city will now strongly recommend that residents who want to have play structures on their property follow four guidelines approved by the city council. The move comes in response to a handful of applications that have come before the city’s Architectural Review Board in which neighbors had complained about the color of the wood stain on the structures or their visibility across property lines.

The details: The guidelines state:

  • wood portions of the play structure should be a natural, earth-toned stain;
  • the structure should be placed behind the house or not easily visible from the street;
  • screening may be required if the structure is plainly visible;
  • and play structures taller than eight feet need to be farther away from property lines.

Play equipment definitions: In addition to the guidelines, the city council approved new definitions for play equipment.

Play equipment like tree swings that are less than eight feet tall and with no foundation are no longer considered structure and do not require a permit for installation.

Such equipment can be placed in the front yard but require a 10-foot setback from the property line.

Basketball goals in concrete and swing sets, for example, are still considered structures. They will require a permit for installation and are prohibited in the front yard unless an exception is approved.

Key quote: “It’s a design guideline so it would be in the design guideline booklet — it’s not a zoning regulation to where if you don’t abide by it, you would have to get an exception from the board of zoning appeals,” City Planner Jill Clifton said in response to a council question about the definition of “guideline.” “It’s a strong recommendation.”