City Manager’s Weekly Report
for week ending December 6, 2019
View and sunlight grievances along property lines. Normandy Park Municipal Code, Chapter 18.35, provides options and requirements for Normandy Park property owners who have view or sunlight disputes over hedges, including rows of mature trees, over 10’ in height. All these options must be employed prior to bringing civil suit over these issues. Essentially, the city code requires aggrieved property owners to offer written communication of the problem to a hedge owner, and then an offer to mediate, possibly through the Seattle-King County Alternative Dispute Resolution Center. If mediation is not accepted within 30 days or fails, then the aggrieved property owner may prepare a hedge claim, with specific suggestions for remediation, and then submit the hedge claim to the property owner with the hedge blockage. If there is no reconciliation and the offer of mediation has been rejected, then an offer of arbitration can be extended, and the hedge owner has the right to accept or reject binding arbitration within 30 days. In cases where binding arbitration is rejected by the hedge owner, then and only then can the complainant pursue litigation, stating in the lawsuit that mediation and arbitration were offered and not accepted. The complainant and the hedge owner must each pay 50% of any mediation and arbitration fees, unless they agree otherwise, or allow the mediator or arbitrator to allocate costs. The city has no role and needs no notice of any of the above.
Does the city have a role to play in private property disputes over other types of tree issues? No, except that the city does have permit requirements for clearing and grading, as well as for tree removal in critical areas, such as trees on steep slopes, riverine areas, or along city shorelines.
Check out the following article, which offers interesting reasons to pursue mediation in tree dispute situations other than “view or sunlight disputes.”
The Trouble With Trees – The Law May Be On Your Side, But Mediation Could Bring a Happier Solution
Mark E. Hoppen, City Manager
City of Normandy Park
801 SW 174th Street
Normandy Park, WA 98166
(206) 248-8246 (Direct Phone)