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Seeing the light

In the country of California, Mark Vargas installed some solar panels. Trouble is that, in a colossal case of failure to plan, his solar panels were installed in the shade of his neighbors’ redwood trees. But get this:

Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett of Sunnyvale, Calif., were criminally prosecuted because redwood trees in their backyard cast shadows over their neighbor’s solar panels.

A judge ordered in December that two of the trees be trimmed back. The couple have had one trimmed, hoping that will satisfy the judge.

Criminally prosecuted and threatened with fines of $1,000/day because their neighbors put solar panels in the shade of their trees. Wow. And, seriously, there’s a law that covers that. Governor Moonbeam signed it back in 1978. Mark Vargas was rewarded by the state despite being stupid enough to install solar panels in the shade. More:

“I still think it is sad that we couldn’t have figured it out between neighbors,” Vargas said. “I offered to pay to remove the trees.”

There’s no figure it out you want X and your neighbors wanted exactly the opposite of X. There’s no figuring that out. Unfortunately for your neighbors, there’s also no shortage of stupid in California law.

Update: I think I’d go find one of those spotted owls and let it live in the trees.

15 Responses to “Seeing the light”

  1. Cliff Says:

    Are you sure they were criminally prosecuted for having the tree? I suspect if you look you will find that they were found in criminal contempt for failing to obey a court’s lawful order. If you don’t agree with a judge’s order, you can ask the judge to reconsider. You can appeal. Regardless of what you do, you must obey the law. They could have been criminally prosecuted if the judge had ordered them to cut their grass and they didn’t.

    While I agree that there should not be an implied easement for light and air, that is the law in California. This isn’t about the trees, it is about the rule of law. If they don’t like the law, they should either work to change it or move. They do not have the option of civil disobedience unless they are willing to accept the risks inherent in that tact.

  2. SayUncle Says:

    Are you sure they were criminally prosecuted for having the tree?

    I’m 100% not sure since it’s a news account. But the original article said they were.

  3. Guav Says:

    Insanity.

  4. Dr. Strangegun Says:

    I’d pay to see a little arboreal accident… if the panels are in the shade, then they’re in the fall zone.

  5. bob r Says:

    Compare that to this where a couple was fine $347,600 for trimming some tree branches. Also in the country of California.

    Rule of law my ass. This is about using force to impose the values of one person upon another. Rule of law would have respect for private property — something that is absent in both of these stories.

    Obey a judge no matter what he says? When and where did they get made King of their domain?

  6. bob r Says:

    Looks like my tag closing ability is on the fritz. Oops!

  7. SayUncle Says:

    I think I’d go find one of those spotted owls and put it in my trees.

  8. # 9 Says:

    California=Newer England

    Didn’t think it could happen here? You would be wrong.

  9. Linoge Says:

    If they donít like the law, they should either work to change it or move.

    Mark me down for the second fucking option, if that is how this bloody state is going to handle patently idiotic situations such as this one. Actually, mark me down for the second option, period – living in Kalifornistan is, in no way, worth it.

    Just remember, this state is the one that will start controlling your thermostat next year, was instrumental in the banning of incandescent bulbs of just about any variety, is trying to ban smoking in mutli-family complexes (like condos and apartments) due to possibilities of the chemicals leaking through the walls (Yes, that is their rationale – not sure if the law made it, though.), and all manner of other patently stupid, intrustive, nanny-state-ish, controlling laws.

    Yes, the rule of the law is the rule of the law. However, the law is here to serve the people, not the other goddamned way around.

  10. workinwifdakids Says:

    Forcing that landowner to do anything in that case is antithetical to every principle of liberty I stand for.

    Are you sure they were criminally prosecuted for having the tree? I suspect if you look you will find that they were found in criminal contempt for failing to obey a courtís lawful order.

    This isn’t going to sound very cordial, but what the hell is the difference? The homeowner was still deprived of his Constitutional rights under color of authority by a criminal. That the thief was wearing a black robe matters not to me.

    Remember: when a jackboot is crushing your larynx, it would be wise to set aside your argument about whether it’s the left boot or the right boot until you can breathe.

  11. JKB Says:

    You’re missing that the solar panel homeowner is being environmentally wonderful. Doing his part as it were. Of course, when his A/C bill shoots through the roof due to the loss of shade, the environment will be at a net loss. But think of how wonderful he feels and the accolades he’ll get from the other granola heads. It is not whether the action is helpful, it is about showing your part of the problem, I mean, solution.

    Every wonder why old homes in the South have large oak trees surrounding them, because it is a lot cooler in the shade even with steambath humidity. Not to mention all the photosynthesis from the foliage saves you from having to drive your Prius with the A/C on high down to the oxygen bar for an inhale with the other Smug bastards.

  12. # 9 Says:

    This was a Smug contest. These are the people who want to tell you how to live.

  13. Standard Mischief Says:

    bob r Says:

    Rule of law my ass.

    you almost got that right: The law is an ass.

  14. Standard Mischief Says:

    Holy shit. I just read the fscking article. There’s such a thing as “ancient light”, but there’s something called ex post facto too.

    Then again, in fscking Virginia, you can make your neighbor help pay for your fence.

    The feud started like this: In 1989, about four years after he’d arrived in Caroline, Ames sent each of his neighbors a registered letter announcing his plans to build a new fence. He informed them that, under an 1887 fence law, they would be required to pay for half of whatever section of it ran along their shared property line. Some neighbors would be on the hook for $6,000, some for $12,000. Perry Brooks’s share would be more than $45,000.

  15. Bobby Jean Says:

    We have Wal Mart to contend with, in Missouri. Just last year, that corporation convinced the Jefferson City politicos to use eminent domain to seize farmland that had been in one family for generations.