In some situations, condominium owners in California may find that the relief they seek with respect to their property must be processed through local governmental agencies. In those cases, their own HOA is ineffective in regulating relief due to an outside third party's involvement. An interesting battle has gone on for more than 25 years regarding ocean views available to owners in the Del Mar Woods condominium complex.
An adjoining owner of large parcels that hug the beachfront, the Torrey Pacific Development Co., planted eucalyptus trees along its northern border in the 1970s when the condominiums were built. The problem is that those fast-growing trees get to a height of 40 feet, which obstructs the ocean views of the condominium owners. The owner of the beachfront properties stated that it has faced 37 lawsuits over the trees since 2003.
In each case, the beachfront owner says that there was a settlement in which the owner agreed to clip them down to 20 feet twice a year. Recently, another condominium owner filed a request with the Del Mar Planning Commission, asking that the owner be required to trim the trees every four months instead of twice per year. She allegedly bought her property on the basis of a clear ocean view, which she discovered is blocked whenever the trees are overgrown. The condominium owner filed her complaint under the Del Mar City's "trees, scenic views and sunlight ordinance."
So far, the Planning Commission has turned her down. She recently lost her appeal to the Del Mar City Council on a 2-2 vote. Apparently, two of the council members felt that requiring trimming more than twice per year would be excessive. An attorney for the beachfront owners said that the fast-growing trees are being slowly replaced by trees that will top out at 20 feet. The complaining condominium owner, acting without representation by her HOA, will now have to decide whether to appeal the issue to a California appellate court.
Source: sandiegouniontribune.com, "Twice annual tree trimming is not enough for seaside condo owner", Phil Diehl, July 18, 2017