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View Law Mystery 2: Why do cities refuse to put some teeth in view protection ordinances?

Is a complaint against a loud dog more important than your frustration over the blockage of your priceless ocean view?

Apparently.  While many Southern California municipalities, associations and city governments will use their staff resources and attorneys to enforce noise and most other tree ordinances, when it comes to view ordinances … not so much.

So what happens when you have persevered through the lengthy and expensive view restoration law claim at the local level, and won, but your neighbor with the tall eucalyptus or yucca refuses to trim it down to restore your view?

Get out your wallet.  In a growing number of cities, the view protection ordinances give you the honor and privilege of retaining your own lawyer at your own expense to recover your lost view in court.

This same mindset has crept into view protection programs operated by Homes Associations. The HAs will administer a view protection program that is meant to protect homeowners from the inconsiderate neighbor who refuses to trim her trees.

But who pays to enforce the Association’s order that the trees be trimmed down? Oftentimes, surprisingly, it’s the resident already suffering from the blocked gorgeous view, and that’s not right.

The aggrieved homeowner should not have to pay for the legal counsel needed to enforce the association’s or city’s rules. The CC&R or ordinance is designed to benefit the whole. Where else does the resident have to hire his own lawyer to enforce a municipal code section? Barking dogs? Peacocks? Loud parties? No.

The community benefits from the enforcement by the city of the view protection rules, just as the community benefits from the enforcement by the city of the myriad rules and regulations also contained in the municipal code. To suggest otherwise is to focus on the tree and miss the forest.

Rules, codes and regulations that cities and associations are unwilling to enforce themselves should be wholly privatized, and a civil cause of action for tortious view obstruction ought to be recognized statewide. 

Attorney Charles F. Peterson, Esq., is an expert in View Rights, View Restoration Law, View Preservation Law, Tree Ordinance, Mediation, and View Ordinance Law.

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