Itching for a good controversy? How about one that involves a former Mariner, American League batting champion and Gold Glove winner? Oh, and a rare Chinese pine tree and a diminished view?
Luckily, John Olerud has you covered. As the Seattle Times notes today, Olerud and his wife - who live in a multi-million dollar home in Clyde Hill - have been battling for two years to persuade (or strong arm) their neighbors, Bruce and Linda Baker, into chopping down two trees on their property, which an appraisal recently commissioned by the Oleruds indicates is reducing the value of the family's home by $255,000 because it obstructs the westerly view.
The Bakers have refused, leading the Oleruds to pay for the aforementioned appraisal and urge city decision makers to step in. The Chinese pine, which is roughly 50 years old, has been there since long before the Oleruds' purchased their luxury home.
If the trees were hacked, the Oleruds' appraisal indicates the family's 12-room, 6,680-square-foot abode would be worth $4.3 million. As it stands, the home is worth a mere $4.045.
The story comes up today because the Clyde Hill Board of Adjustment will hold its second hearing today on whether the Bakers should be forced to cut the trees down - under the city's literally-never-used "view obstruction and tree removal" ordinance of 1991. As the Times notes, the board has never ordered a tree removed in the ordinance's time on the books.
More from the Times:
The Bakers have cut down a coast redwood; agreed to remove the spruce, valued at $4,800; and pruned the Chinese pine in a way intended to allow some of the view to show through. But they don't want to part with the pine, which they see as beautiful and the Oleruds call an eyesore.
The Oleruds' house is separated from the Bakers' by a street and a grassy lot owned by the Oleruds. The King County assessor rates the view from the Olerud house as "average," the view from the Bakers' $1.1 million house as "excellent."
The board can order the Bakers' trees removed if it finds they unreasonably obstruct the Oleruds' views. Among the factors the board may consider are how much of the view is blocked, whether landmarks are obscured, how the Oleruds' property value is affected, and how the trees and the views they obstruct affect both families' enjoyment of their properties.
According to the Oleruds' appraisal, the Chinese pine in question, and a Colorado spruce behind it block 40 percent of the Oleruds' 30-degree view of Seattle, Lake Washington and the Olympic Mountains.