The Clyde Hill Board of Adjustments recently ruled in favor of former Mariner First Baseman, John Olerud and his wife Kelly, in the first action brought under the City of Clyde Hill’s View Obstruction and Tree Removal Ordinance (CHMC Chapter 17.38). In that action, the Oleruds asked the City to enforce the view protection ordinance which required their neighbors, who owned a rare fifty year old and fifty foot high Chinese red pine, as well as a fifty foot fir tree. The trees block what has been described by Olerud as 40% of a 30 degree view of Lake Washington, Seattle and the Olympics from his home. The Clyde Hill Board of Adjusters ruled, in a 3-2 vote, that the two trees “unreasonably block the view” of the Oleruds, and ordered the removal of the tress. The Oleruds were ordered to pay the cost of the tree removal and the cost to replace the trees with smaller trees, which total price tag was not trivial ($62,694). The neighbors were also ordered to trim the replacement trees if they grew to 25 feet.
For those of you unacquainted with this Seattle metropolitan suburban city, it is a very well heeled community nestled on a gently sloping hill between the enclave of Medina and Bellevue, a short walk from the shopping mecca of Bellevue Square. It is almost entirely residential, and many of the homes have beautiful lake views oriented to the western sunsets. Given the wealth of the community, it’s not surprising that its residents can afford lawyers, and may well be used to getting their way. Apparently this law, which has been on the books for decades, had never before required a ruling from the City. Prior property owners were able to resolve their differences privately. Perhaps taking a page out of the Congressional playbook, these neighbors couldn’t reach a compromise. (more…)