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My neighbor is obstructing my view: What can I do?

California is home to some of the most beautiful sights in the country, whether you are on the beach, in the heart of a bustling city or out in picturesque vineyards and hillsides. Homeowners and developers alike seek to capitalize on this beauty, making locations with views among the most desirable in the state.

Considering how vital views are in California real estate, it should not be surprising that they are also at the center of many disputes. Residents (or builders) often clash when it comes to view-blocking vegetation like trees. In these situations, there are specific rules for how and if obstructions must be dealt with.

To get an idea of what these rules are and how they apply, let's say you own a hotel near the beach in Torrance. In several of your premium rooms, there are unimpeded views of the ocean and you are able to charge more for that feature.

If a developer announces plans to construct a home between your hotel and the beach with massive trees to provide some privacy for the owners, you could very well have a problem with this. Even if the home is not going to obstruct any views, the tall trees could certainly jeopardize the enjoyment of the view.

In this situation, property owners and the developer would need to examine the possible remedies. This could be something as simple as pruning the trees or it could involve removal of the trees. If these parties can't come to an agreement, then they may need to go through mediation and/or arbitration to find a solution. If that is still not possible, litigation can be inevitable.

In some cases, you can avoid view obstruction arguments before they even become a problem by challenging proposed vegetation or buildings. In other cases, the issue may not be addressed until it is literally staring a property owner in the face. In either situation, legal guidance can be quite helpful in finding a resolution.

It is crucial to note that these rules and procedures vary by city, so it is wise to discuss your specific situation with an attorney familiar with real estate laws, including view ordinances of your city. With legal guidance, you can ensure views are restored and the value of your property is protected.

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