Verdicts and Settlements
REAL PROPERTY, Nuisance – Obstruction of View, Fire Hazard, Spite Fence
SETTLEMENT RESULT: Defendants agreed to remove certain trees and to allow Plaintiff to top and maintain certain trees consistent with arborist’s report, as part of a view restoration effort. Provisions were made in the agreement regarding any future growth or encroachment of trees and vegetation that may obstruct Plaintiff’s view, and both parties agree to grant access to their properties for necessary cutting and tree work. The settlement agreement also included provisions for a cessation of neighborly hostilities, including police phone calls and parking disputes.
CASE: I.D. Confidential, Case No. CV99-3850.
SETTLEMENT DATE: March 2000
ATTORNEYS: Plaintiff- Barri Kaplan Bonapart (Bonapart & Associates, Sausalito)
Defendants- Sandi Nichols, Esq. (Washburn Briscoe & McCarthy, San Francisco)
EXPERTS:Plaintiff- Raymond Moritz, arborist, Moritz Arboricultural Consulting, Mill Valley
Defendants- Ralph Osterling, forester, Ralph Osterling Consultants, San Mateo
FACTS & CONTENTIONS: Plaintiff and Defendants were neighbors in Belvedere, CA. Defendants maintained trees and vegetation on their property, including Monterey Pine Trees and a hedge-like row of Acacia trees. These trees were permitted to grow to such height and density that they severely obstructed Plaintiff’s views of San Francisco Bay, the city skyline, the bridges, and the surrounding hills, in violation of the Belvedere View Ordinance. Tree limbs on Defendant’s property overhung and encroached onto the Plaintiff's property, but defendants prevented plaintiff from trimming the branches back by calling the police and threatening to sue whenever she attempted. In addition, many of the trees on Defendants’ property were known to be highly flammable, and therefore posed a hazard. Despite notice by the Town of Belvedere to abate some of the hazards on their property, Defendants refused to comply with Belvedere Municipal Code. Plaintiff made several good faith attempts to resolve the issue, including offers to mediate and arbitrate, to no avail. Plaintiff filed an action for Injunctive and Declaratory relief requiring Defendants to comply with Belvedere Municipal Code, and specifically to remove or lower the height of and maintain trees on their property which constituted a nuisance.