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LONG BEACH : Woman Told: Lower Fence or Face Jail

October 13, 1994|JOHN POPE

A Long Beach woman who has feuded with city officials for three years over the height of her back yard fence has been ordered by a Municipal Court judge to lower the structure within 30 days or face jail time.

Judge Bradford L. Andrews last week placed Patsy Barggren on probation for one year, which will end when she lowers or removes the structure. If not, she will spend 180 days in jail, Andrews said.

"It appears from the evidence in this case that the fence (can) be brought into compliance by simply removing the latticework," Andrews said. The fence, which surrounds the side and back of Barggren's Bixby Knolls property, is solid wood topped with decorative latticework.

In September, a jury convicted Barggren of violating city codes that prohibit fences higher than 6 1/2 feet. She built the 8-foot fence in 1991 for security and as a barrier against a neighbor with whom she has often clashed. Since then, Barggren has defied numerous orders by the city to lower her fence.

Barggren, who has spent about $25,000 in legal fees defending the $5,000 fence, said she plans to defy the judge's order.

"I have no intention of taking down my fence until they make everyone else take down their fences (that exceed the height limit)," she said. "I'd rather go to jail. All I'm asking is that I be treated like everyone else."

Barggren has argued unsuccessfully that she was singled out for prosecution. City officials have acknowledged that other fences in the upscale Bixby Knolls area rise above 6 1/2 feet, but said fences are a low priority and they respond only after a complaint is filed.

George Boucher, Barggren's neighbor who lodged the complaint, said Barggren's fence blocks his view.

Barggren, an actress who said she has appeared in television soap operas, said she may take her case to federal court.

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