General Question

Rangie's avatar

What should I do about my neighbor and my tree?

Asked by Rangie (3640 points ) April 17th, 2010

A person bought the home directly behind me, and I have a fairly large tree in my yard. It blocks his view of the ocean, and he wants me to cut it down. I understand his problem, and I wouldn’t like it either, but this is a beautiful tree. I am trying to find a compromise. Any suggestions? Topping the tree would not be a possibility. He said he would do whatever he has to no matter what it cost him. I see no other solution than to cut my tree down.

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90 Answers

phillis's avatar

Did he bother looking out the windows of his home when the real estate woman took him to see the property? He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a property whose view he doesn’t like, and now he complains? He had the choice whether to purchase the property. Even though he may not speak in an arrogant tone to you, his wanting to control you and what you do with your property is arrogance, personified. is next step will be manipulation, so be prepared for it.

Leave the damn tree, Rangie. If the day comes that YOU want to replace it, you can excercize your freedom to choose something that has a lower growth habit, or you can choose soemthing that grows 15 stories high. That is up to you and any HOA laws you’re required to adhere to. But until then, you have no obligation to him whatsoever…....morally, legally, or otherwise.

SeventhSense's avatar

Edit: Removed by me.

phillis's avatar

@SeventhSense She addressed that in the details, that it wasn’t a possibility. Otherise, I’d have suggested the same thing, no doubt.

Rangie's avatar

@phillis That was my very first thought too. His approach was not very nice. It was not my fault that there was no leaves on the tree when he bought. And there are some dead branches on it. So in trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, I thought maybe he thought the whole tree was dead. You know how an old oak tree can look dead in the winter. But now the leaves are coming out.
I am going to check with the City to see if he can force me to remove it, due to some kind of law saying you can’t block someone’s view. I don’t think that includes trees though.

Rangie's avatar

@SeventhSense I think the tree would be very ugly for all of us to look at if I topped it. Pine tree maybe, but an Oak tree, naw…I wonder if an Oak tree can be thinned?

shilolo's avatar

Neighbor battles are tough, but it doesn’t sound like he has a proverbial “leg to stand on”. That the tree is simply blocking his view is no reason to take it down. That said, apparently there are specific laws to consider that vary from state to state.

Rangie's avatar

@shilolo I try to be cooperative as possible. But you never know about some of these smaller Ocean communities in California. I just came from the Sierra Nevada’s myself. Completely different lifestyle and people.

Trillian's avatar

Blocking his view? And?
Screw him and anybody who looks like him.

Rangie's avatar

@Trillian how do you write laughing very hard.

tinyfaery's avatar

Too bad for him. Though, this issue might just lead to having constant problems with this guy.

It’s his problem, not yours.

Rangie's avatar

@tinyfaery Yes it might. We share the back fence. I have 2 little Bichons that play out there. It is his problem, but he is making it mine. It would just be my luck I would tell him where to plant his tree, and the City would come and tell me I have to cut it down. I don’t want to jump the gun with this guy.

Trillian's avatar

Just sayin’. You are under no obligation whatsoever to cut down any tree to facilitate his stupid view. Certainly not a mighty oak for god’s sake. Topping an oak should be considered a crime anyway. Unless Asplundh has to because of some power lines. I hold trees in higher regard than most people.
He can take a flyin’ fuck in a rollin’ doughnut.
Cut down an oak tree indeed.

Your_Majesty's avatar

If that tree grows on your yard then it means you own that tree and it’s part of your property. There’s nothing he can legally do about your tree.

Rangie's avatar

@Trillian you make me laugh. As I said earlier, I use to live in the High Sierra Nevada. There are millions of trees up there. I never saw two alike. I saw them as individuals in a way. Big, peaceful, graceful giants.

Rangie's avatar

@Doctor_D I hope you are right. Now if I was going to build a two story house, that might be different. I wouldn’t do that to this neighbor any more than my mountain neighbor.

Brian1946's avatar

I basically agree with Trillian.

Does your tree need pruning?

I don’t think you have any obligation to prune it unless the branches have grown over your property line, but if you think it could use pruning, then perhaps that might ameliorate the situation.

Personally, I love trees for their beauty and the carbon reduction that they provide.

If I was your neighbor, I’d be just fine with seeing your tree and the bits of ocean view that might appear through its foliage.

Rangie's avatar

@Brian1946 I will have my husband take a look at it to see if we can reach a compromise.

Trillian's avatar

Here’s the other thing: How big is the ocean? Uh huh. And how big is a tree? Right. So, a fifty foot wide tree is blocking your view of a thousand mile wide ocean. Ok, I think I see the problem here; This guy is a moron!
I would love to hear the judge on this one.
“Her tree is blocking your view of the ocean. Mmm-hmmm. And it was presumably there when you bought the house? She didn’t have it brought in on a big flat bed semi and dug a 100 foot hole in her back yard for the root system? Uh-huh. Well, sir, I suggest that you move your lawn chair to a different part of your yard or maybe take some pictures of the ocean and tape them to your window. Next!”

Rangie's avatar

@Trillian okay, now I need to take a quick break. running, running.
I’m back.
Have you tried writing? I can see the picture you lay out, very clearly. lol

Brian1946's avatar

@Trillian

I agree with you.

Another thing is that ocean views intrinsically do nothing to reduce one’s carbon footprint, whereas I’m sure you know how massively vital trees are for that.

Rangie's avatar

@Brian1946 I love trees. Unfortunately the views we have here are between other peoples homes and trees. If I want to hang out and just look at the ocean, I go 14 blocks down to the beach. But, some people like to see it all from their windows.

ucme's avatar

Take a photo of the ocean & glue it to the the fence, he now has his seaview.Yew keep your lovely tree.This may not be poplar with him, tough titty.

Trillian's avatar

@Rangie How kind of you to say. I am a writer. Not that I get paid for it, but yes, I write.
@ucme I am coming after yew. Take a bough, then start running, I’m going to root yew out

Neizvestnaya's avatar

In the event all is well with your HOA and your tree is dandy “as is” then I’d tell you neighbor it’s a shame he paid for beach property and beach community without checking his view first.

susanc's avatar

Topping a tree is very bad for it – don’t do it.
If part of your tree hangs over his fenceline, it may be legal for him to chop that part off. Check with your state/county rulebook.
If some of the branches are dead, how about telling him he’s free to have those branches cut off at his expense (as a favor to him – you don’t care if they stay, apparently). No, wait, bad idea – he’ll instruct his tree guy to kill the tree and then “oh whoops, sorreeeee”. Instead, tell him you’ll have the dead branches removed if he’ll pay for the work. That way you and the arborist are one team and he’s another.
You and I know that the living branches will grow into those spaces in 2 years anyway.
Or just say no and wait for him to move, if he’s so unhappy.

ucme's avatar

@Trillian Oak, if that’s the way it has to be then so be it.

escapedone7's avatar

This is the only case I know like it where a person had a ruling regarding a tree. I believe it was only because the man invested a huge amount of money in a solar panel system on his roof and was trying to keep overgrowing trees from blocking the sun from his solar system.

http://talk.livedaily.com/showthread.php?t=614580

Rangie's avatar

@Trillian -to whom do you attribute your quick whit and ability to put it on paper? I needed the likes of you and anyone else that is funny today. @ucme you too. lol

Rangie's avatar

Topping the tree, I agree is not good for an Oak. Other trees, maybe. As for HOA, there are none. Older neighborhood. So that is a good thing.

Rangie's avatar

@escapedone7 I had heard of that as well. I wonder if my neighbor could place a solar system on his house and then make me take it down. My tree would be blocking most all of his afternoon sun. Hadn’t thought of that.

Trillian's avatar

@ucme Do you mean sow be it?
Funny aside note. A few years ago I lived in a house that had three oaks, two in the back, one in the front. My youngest had a little pool in the back yard and late in the summer acorn were dropping into it. She was griping and complaining about it as she fished them out. I told her that oak trees just drop their seeds and there’s no way to tell them not to that would make them stop. She thought for a minute, then said “But it’s my pool.” I just told her “Good luck with that.” and went in the house.

ucme's avatar

@Rangie Oh I can only blame myself for that it’s a gift I know @Trillian ;¬}

Trillian's avatar

@Rangie I can’t take credit for the way I was born. Words are a gift, while god chose to with hold the gift of red hair so I take matters into my own hands, along with Clairol.

Rangie's avatar

@Trillian @ucme I know we are off subject, but I think you should start a thread of funny things to say. We could all use a good laugh. Well, I know I could. You could call it, Matching Whits, who has the funniest remark about ??? and see where it goes. How fun. Or is it stupid :( ?

Rangie's avatar

How do I post an update on the tree issue? Anyone?

ucme's avatar

@Rangie Hey it’s your question you can be as off subject as you like yay. The more stupid the fun the better sometimes :¬}

Rangie's avatar

@ucme Is that really okay? can we just go off on fun stuff?

Trillian's avatar

Sorry, I have to jump off and go to work soon. I enjoy matching wits with @ucme though. He is a worthy opponent and collaborator. Kiss kiss!

Rangie's avatar

@ucme,, well, I am not match for you. You are too funny. But I would really love for you guys to do that some time. Will you?

Rangie's avatar

oh, I almost forgot, How do I post an update on the tree issue? Also thank all of you for your help and reinforcement for me.

ucme's avatar

Alas it’s 12:30am in England town & I must bid you adieu to yew & yew & yew.To be continued…

CaptainHarley's avatar

You do not have to cut down your tree. Tell him to take a flying f*** at the moon.

Rangie's avatar

@CaptainHarley oh, another funny person. I have been looking for all of you fun people all my life. Some people are just too serious. I have come to know, when it is over, it is over, so I might as well have as much fun as possible. We don’t get to come back and do it again. So, I shew-fly depressed, negative people.

Brian1946's avatar

Here’s an exemption to the law referred to in escapedone7’s linked article: “Existing trees that cast shadows when the panels are installed are exempt, but new growth is subject to the law.”

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

He bought the property knowing that the tree was there. I would think his demands are on very shakey ground. Consult with your attorney though.

jazmina88's avatar

It’s your property. Your tree. and there is nothing he can do about it. except learn to enjoy it. Dont listen to him. I dont think he has a case.

My Mom hates the roots the she claims ruins her driveway. The neighbors ignore it.

he will get used to it. and find another view. or walk to the ocean.

gemiwing's avatar

Tell him tough shit (perhaps nicer than that) and place a security camera that focuses on the tree. Make sure to record the feed.

plethora's avatar

@gemiwing Very good idea!!

plethora's avatar

I would be opposed to doing anything to the tree. The guy is incredibly arrogant. But it would be interesting to see how high he is willing to go to get the tree removed….after doing what @gemiwing said. Maybe it’s a million dollar tree,,:)

Rangie's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Attorney, I hadn’t even thought of that. I guess some people will go to that extent though. I had a similar thing happen in reverse to us, up in the mountains. The house across the street built a garage, right in the middle of our view. We could still see the lake though, but not as pretty. The garage was not even nice looking, but we just let it go. After all it is their property. She was a friend of mine too. But there are all kinds of friends. What really frosted me, was after they got the garage up and painted, they sold the house. I thanked her for that. She actually thought I meant thank you.

Rangie's avatar

@plethora whoa horsey, million dollar tree. But I couldn’t replace it, even with a million dollars. I wouldn’t live long enough. But that is an interesting thought, if he damages it and kills it, he sure would have an investment in my backyard. He could take that money and build himself a bigger deck.

phillis's avatar

Rangie, screw the tree!! Let him come and cut the damn thing down. Don’t forget to record it! Bahahahaha!!

Rangie's avatar

@phillis This must be a tell it like it is day. I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. So, what you are saying is, challenge him, make him mad and he will sneak over and cut down my tree, while I am hanging out in the mountains? I do have some cameras. I loaned my mailbox neighbor one set, and I will put the other on my tree.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Leave it be. Pun intended.

Rangie's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Or leaf it bee? or was that Wasp?

phillis's avatar

I’m just saying that if a person cuts down that tree who could afford the house he bought, maybe the tree can be replaced with 20 trees by the time yer done suing the pants off him! But it was a joke, nothing more.

I do agree that the cameras are a fantastic idea, though. This guy obviously has no sense of boundaries, property OR personal. He seems to be under the misguided impression that his property extends all the way to yours on to the ocean, and that you owe him for his own mistake.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Rangie

I was being serous.

Rangie's avatar

@phillis Some people with money think the world revolves around them. I remember one time when my husband was the captain on a Sport Fisher, we were in Mexico with the owner and a few of his buddies. The owner was a multi-millionaire, and thought he would be respected anywhere anytime as long as he paid for it. We were all out to dinner, he has a fair amount to drink, and wanted to play the guitar of the gentlemen playing around the restaurant. The musician, waved his hand and said no no. Our owner, threw him a $100 dollar bill and took his guitar. Banging on it so hard he broke one of the strings. Now that he had every bodies attention in the restaurant, he decided he didn’t like the food. So he scraped his dish on the patio floor and about 50 cats came running out. I left the table and waited for them outside. I don’t know how I got off on that story. sorry

escapedone7's avatar

Maybe you can call one of those tree-hugging type groups. I know they exist but don’t know the names. Have a hippie protest in your back yard. Perhaps they will give legal advice, being tree huggers and all. Not that I dislike tree-huggers. I’ve hugged a few trees myself. I just don’t know what to call them. Environmentalists. Yeah that’s it.

Rangie's avatar

@CaptainHarley I know you were. Part of me is too. You know come to think of it. As I look out of my own window, there is a rather big tree in my way too. But you can bet your life I won’t try to do anything about it. That is not why we bought here. If that was my main purpose, I would have gone to a condo on the beach.

escapedone7's avatar

What group used to like, chain themselves to trees to protest logging and stuff?

Rangie's avatar

@escapedone7 funny you should say that. I have also dealt with hippie types before. Now, I don’t think I could deal with them now. I use to live in Berkeley, during the Mario Savio days. That was quite an experience.

phillis's avatar

People who think they can buy the rights of others suck. They walk around with an unmistakeable air of self-importance, assuming everybody owes them something. It’s a false sense of entitlement that extends outward in a ripple of misery to everybody the peson comes into contact with. I like the 50 cats better than I like that guy, and I’ve never met any of them.

Rangie's avatar

@phillis Well the 50 cats guy was such a schmuck. We were cruising down near Cabo San Lucas, when a small fishing boat came out to us. There were 3 mexican fishermen in the boat, wanting to trade for some lobster. What the owner didn’t understand was the captain was the man in charge in their waters and therefore held responsible for things. The fishermen threw up a gunny sack full of lobster. Our rich and generous owner gave them a magazine and ½ bottle of grenadine. Then order my husband to full throttle. The fishermen were furious and I don’t blame them. That man is not a friend of ours anymore. There are many stories I could tell, but he was a butt.

Brian1946's avatar

@escapedone7

“What group used to like, chain themselves to trees to protest logging and stuff?”

I think it might have been Earth First!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@Rangie, Unfortunately the views we have here are between other peoples homes and trees. If I want to hang out and just look at the ocean, I go 14 blocks down to the beach…

Whoa. This bozo bought a house 14 blocks from the ocean, and complains because an oak tree blocks his glimpse of the ocean between houses? It sounds like “champagne taste on a beer pocketbook.” By my reckoning, 14 blocks is about 1.2 -1.5 miles away from the beach, and his house is facing the wrong direction.

I would make sure any dead limbs are trimmed out of the tree, and then tell him to blow it out the north end of a south-bound horse.

Rangie's avatar

@PandoraBoxx We are on a gradual hill. Where do you come up with theses funny sayings? I am going to try to remember them so I can use them when it will count the most. You make me laugh. But that’s okay, my laugh lines are permanent anyway.
I past that getting old gracefully stage. Who cares. Nobody is looking at old ladies wrinkles anyway. My mother forgot to tell me that I wasn’t a turkey when I was a young girl. Oh yes, pour on the baby oil and roast. Turn over and do it some more. Try not to peel it off when it blisters. What was wrong with us? We were thinking about building a deck on top of the house. It is very popular around here. With outlets for electrical, water, natural gas. We decided against it with the economy the way it is. We are all suppose to be thinking out of the Box. Heck, I can’t even think in the box.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

The oak tree across the street from me is 80 years old and about 100 feet tall. When it goes, it’s taking out my house. I would never ask my neighbor to cut it down. It blocks my view of the city skyline. Looking at an oak tree is every bit as wonderful as a postage stamp size view of the ocean between houses.

Rangie's avatar

@PandoraBoxx I know what you mean. When we first moved here, we could see the sunset out of our living room window. It was beautiful. I went to get something inexpensive to cover the window. So I put up that indoor bamboo shade. Then we noticed
upon forgetting to raise the shade, there was the picture of the sunset like it was painted on my shade. But, the most exciting thing was the medium size palm tree, that made the picture look like a real painting. Then came a big wind, yes you guessed it. It blew the Palm tree down. Our beautiful painting was gone. I am still missing that little ole tree.

thriftymaid's avatar

I would not cut down my beautiful tree. Your neighbor bought his property knowing the tree was there. I would not compromise in any way.

Rangie's avatar

@thriftymaid I think the consensus is “Don’t cut down the tree” Thank all of you , now will all of you be willing to go to court with me. to tell the judge, you all said not to cut it down, and that is why I disobeyed the judgment? hehe not really, no judgment.

susanc's avatar

@Rangie, you would prevail in court, and if it comes to that, I think I can name quite a few jellies who would enjoy being there when it happens.

thriftymaid's avatar

@rangie Sure, if you are close enough, or I could send a brief.

Rangie's avatar

Awe, you guys are so sweet. I am sure it won’t come to that, but if it does, I will threaten to build a 2nd story on my house. hehe, I am in California

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If you find a judge who says you need to cut down your tree to accommodate your neighbor’s already-blocked view then I would suspect the judge of having been paid off. It’s not like you planted a tree in front of your neighbor’s existing view.

If the tree is dangerously old, rotten, diseased, etc. then a case can be made that it should be removed for safety reasons. So you really owe it to yourself (and to the neighbor and your own insurance company) that you have it checked out by a tree expert, and take his advice as to limb removal or even destruction, if it’s truly unsafe. But that’s the only accommodation I’d make: to actual safety.

Rangie's avatar

@CyanoticWasp you are right, in fact my husband went out this morning, and checked on just that, after reading your post. He is a contractor, and one of his specialty licenses is for tree felling. After climbing 3 & 400 foot trees for 50 years, he has learned to identify dead parts of trees. He did find some dead limbs, which he will cut off. The last thing we need is to hit the fence or anything on his side of the fence.
Now I have to find a way to convince my husband. to hire somebody to do the work. He can’t quite realize that he is 80 years old and should not be climbing trees. This is a man that use to drive a blown fuel hydro, going 203mph in a quarter. Things like that are the reasons I am getting older faster than I should.
I sure appreciate your suggestion, and it shall be done promptly.

MagicalMystery's avatar

i would not cut the tree down, i would not top the tree off, it was there when he bought his house and if he didn’t look carefully enough or think about what the property would look like when everything was in full bloom, then it’s his problem. don’t worry about legal action, i don’t think he would have a leg to stand on, as there were no changes on your part. Let him be mad, he should be mad at himself for not paying more attention when he bought the property. don’t let him do any pruning, as others said, he might do something to the tree. don’t worry about good relations with him, he sounds pushy and arrogant. who needs to worry about being friends with someone like that?

Rangie's avatar

@MagicalMystery I understand what you are saying. As for having him as a friend, he is not the type of person I would choose. I am very careful about the kind of character a person has, before I let them in my life. So far this person is striking 0. My mind is still open, you never know. When you live in the country you don’t have these kinds of problems.

phillis's avatar

Rangie, what makes you think this is something you HAVE to do? Or am I misunderstanding what you said? If the man said he would pay to have this done, THEN LET HIM PAY.

Rangie's avatar

@phillis No, I believe someone else said that. This man hasn’t offered to do anything. However, after more careful inspection, it appears he may win due to default. It seems almost one half of the tree is dead and dying. We don’t think half a tree will survive. I may not have a choice to make. We are going to have an arborist come look at it.

phillis's avatar

Okay, please don’t take this as an argument, because I don’t feel that way. Did I misunderstand when you said in your details that “He said he would do whatever he has to no matter what it cost him.”? That made me think that he was willing to pay for the tree to be removed or leveled to unobstruct his view. So, I’m thinking, why can’t HE pay for it?

Rangie's avatar

@phillis I see where you are coming from. Unfortunately no, with the way it was conveyed, he meant he would hire an attorney if necessary to force the issue. Maybe we could tell him we would be willing to take it out if he wanted to pay for it. It will be no less than $500.

phillis's avatar

Holy shit! He was nasty as hell to you! I had no idea he spoke to you like that. Geez, Rangie. I really misunderstood. Sorry about that. Still, I see no reason to spend anything on this tree unless it is going to damage someone else’s property or your own. But I think that was recently covered in a comment, anyway. I’ll just reread it.

Rangie's avatar

@phillis Yeah, this neighbor stuff is something we are not use to. We lived in a resort area and they were most all vacation homes. We were 1 of 3 full time residence out of 150 homes. We have been here almost 1 year. Our first day we approached the neighbor to our north. We introduced ourselves and he informed us that he was bidding against us on this house. I said, oh sorry, well we can still be friends, can’t we? He said “no, I don’t think so” and turned and left. Every time I see him, I say Hi Frank, hoping one of these days he will stop brooding. He has spoken to my husband about 3 times in the year. Those converstions were instigated by my husband. Go figure.

MagicalMystery's avatar

if it were me, i would want to prune the tree the minimum possible so that it still survives, if you can. i would be feeling spiteful toward him for his pushiness, and not wanting to satisfy him in any way.

Rangie's avatar

@MagicalMystery I understand what you are saying, but then I might feel like I am lowering myself to his standards. It’s sort of like being the last one to speak in an argument. He loses because, now I know what he is thinking, and he doesn’t know, what I am thinking. So now he has to wonder, while I don’t have to give it any of my time.
If we take the tree down, he doesn’t know it is half dead, he hasn’t pursued any of his threats, so now he has to feel bad for coming off so badly initially, and we didn’t,

phillis's avatar

Uhhhh…..yeah. I don’t really think you guys have missed out on much, Rangie. I mean, logically, he has actually done you a favor by choosing to not like you guys. Imagine what your lives might be like if he was your friend. All kinds of problems would rear their ugly heads. {{{shudder}}} No, thank you! The less people in our lives like that, the better.

Rangie's avatar

@phillis I have heard of other people having nothing but problems with neighbors. So when we moved here we are trying to stay friendly, but at an arms length. It is not good to have angry neighbors. We need to watch out for each other like a family on a bigger scale and less social.

phillis's avatar

That’s a nice way to be, Rangie. I hope you get that in return from the rest of your neighbors.

MagicalMystery's avatar

yeah but why should the tree suffer unless it’s absolutely necessary?

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