Sreened From View - Immediately or Future?

September 2, 2006

Hello everyone --


I live in a subdivision in which there are CC&Rs and an Architectural Committee that oversees design decisions and compliance. Two neighbors living in newly constructed high-end homes on adjacent 2-acre "view" lots (one situated above the other) have different ideas of how our CC&Rs should be interpreted. I volunteered to be a member of the Architectural Committee.

Our CC&Rs provide that installation of all outdoor recreational equipment is subject to prior approval of the Architectural Committee, and that the Committee may require that such equipment "be screened, fenced or so located as to avoid or minimize its visibility from any street and Neighboring Lots."

The homeowners living on the lower lot who just moved in (and who, BTW, are the only couple in the subdivision with children living at home) have now requested Architectural Committee approval to erect a basketball stand, backboard and hoop ("BB equipment") in their back yard. They purchased BB equipment with a hoop/backboard that can be lowered or adjusted to full 10' regulation height so that their young boys, as well as dad and his fiends, can both enjoy the game. They propose to locate the BB equipment at the edge of the concrete pad outside their triple-car garage (thereby having a paved BB court). The problem is that, in the proposed location, the BB equipment would be totally out in the open and clearly visible from the higher lot, as well as from two other neighboring lots and one street. To complete the picture for you -- currently, there is only one tree growing on the lower lot, but it is on the opposite side of the house from the garage.

The reponse of the owners of the higher lot (who built their home and moved in first and whose rear deck faces directly onto the home and garage entry area of the lower lot) is that they didn't invest the amount of money they did in buying and building in our subdivision to overlook a basketball court.

The owners of the home on the lower lot have submitted a landscaping plan proposing to plant young "medium growth" trees along the border of their lot. Eventually, if nothing happens to them and they grow to mature height and desity, these trees will allegedly screen the BB equipment from view from every direction. The owners of the lower lot suggest that this should satisfy the subdivision's CC&Rs and any requirement our Architectural Committee may impose to locate or screen the equipment so as "to avoid or minimize its visibility from Neighboring Lots."


Although I think I know the answer, since this is the first time our Committee is facing the issue, I thought there would be value in posing this question:

Does anyone know of a situation where a screening requirement was interpreted as being satisfied by planting young trees or vegetation that "someday" would grow to screen the object requiring screening?

Everyone I've spoken to has said that a screening requirement in CC&Rs and Landscaping Design Guidelines means "screening now" and not sometime in the future. I know that I would certainly be a unhappy camper if an Architectural Committee said to me, "Relax Peter, in three years when your neighbor's bushes grow to maturity, you won't be able to see their garbage cans at all." :-) :-)

Your feedback on this situation will be most appreciated.


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