Neighbors’ trees block his view

In Clyde Hill, Wash., a retired Seattle Mariners baseball player has won a ruling from the town that his neighbors must remove two trees that block what would otherwise be an “amazing view of Seattle’s skyline” from his property. “An appraiser hired by John and Kelly Olerud said their $4 million home would be worth $255,000 more if the rare Chinese pine and the Colorado spruce across the street were cut down and replaced with smaller plants. The Chinese pine’s value is estimated at more than $18,000.” [Seattle Times, Ilya Somin] In other tree removal news, an Ontario mother “is fighting to have oak trees removed near her child’s school, fearing that acorns could pose a deadly threat to students with severe allergies.” Local officials say it is unlikely the acorns would prove allergenic to a child unless eaten, which rarely happens given their extreme bitterness. The mother also says acorns “can also be used to bully and torment children.” [Toronto Star via Lenore Skenazy]


  • Olerud argues that because he wants a better view, his neighbor should chop down the 50-year-old trees on the neighbor’s own land (trees that were there before Olerud bought his new home).

    Wouldn’t this argument, if accepted, allow Olerud to force the neighbor to tear down his own house? After all, not having any neighbors would no doubt both improve Olerud’s view and increase the value of Olerud’s house.

  • Beggars belief!

    Who says anyone has a right to a view?

    Will his neighbours now have to demolish their house because it is in the way?

  • Where’s the Lorax when he’s actually needed?

  • Oh, who the hell are we trying to kid here? Rich guy gets what he wants.
    He offered the Brady’s (owners of the trees) an amount of money that wasn’t enough for them to remove the trees on their own. So to save some money, he then took then to a local kangaroo zoning board, who voted to force the owners to remove the trees.
    And this is in Seattle, that bastion of greenie tree-huggers. I guess the locals have shown their true colors, the color of money.

  • Well, Marco, in this country, money is green.


  • Wow! What a great precedent! Now I can try to force my neighbors to cut down their tree that casts a shadow on my solar panels!

  • The Canadian mom who wants to ban oak trees has some great quotes like “I’m not a crazy mom.”

    Doctors quoted in the article mention that they’ve never heard of a person having Anaphylaxis Shock because of acorns, but that doesn’t stop this mom from wanting to rid Nature of all its Nuts. Too bad she doesn’t own a mirror.

  • By the way, the Seattle Times and some of the quoted city council members incorrectly suggest that the ordinance itself was drafted so as to require this result. This is false, the result was not required by the ordinance. Chapter 17.38 of the Clyde Hill Municipal Code, at , allows for a tree to be cut down only if the view “unreasonably obstructs the view” of a neighbor. 17.38.025 (Preservation of Views). The phrase “unreasonably obstructed” is repeated numerous times throughout the ordinance. (e.g. 17.38.050).

    In determining whether a view is unreasonably obstructed the board “may consider several factors, which include but are not limited to the following“. 17.38.050(B)(2).

    This is followed by a list of 7 factors.

    The city council apparently erred by reading out the “not limited” language in the ordinance: the council only considered the seven factors in the ordinance. Had the council read the ordinance correctly, it would have considered other factors, the main one being the relative ages of the tree and the new house. More particularly, the council should have considered the fact that Olerud built his house on a vacant lot knowing full well the 50-year old tree was there.

    The ordinance does not of course state that this consideration would be determinative. But most people seem to think it would be: the indignation about the result is that the council appeared to ignore the circumstances surrounding Olerud’s building a house and then immediately complaining about its view.

  • Aloysious A Gruntpuddock and asdasdf:

    I don’t have an opinion on this case. (Based on what I know, I’m probably with everyone here.) But it is flawed logic to suggest that taking down a tree and taking down a house are the same thing.

  • Outrageous tale and outrageous greed. 4 million is a given – ‘but it could be 4.2’.

    According to, John Olerud earned about 60 million dollars in his 16 year baseball career as a player. Sure it couldn’t hurt to have an extra quarter mil…

  • “But it is flawed logic to suggest that taking down a tree and taking down a house are the same thing.”

    Of course it is, but it’s damned good sarcasm.

  • I keep thinking the Baker’s property with the larger trees being replaced by smaller trees does not decrease in value as much as the Olerud’s property increases with the enhanced view.

    Higher values equal more taxes / revenue for the city.

    But that would never enter the minds of the city government, would it?