Who pays if your tree falls on your neighbor's property?
Bottom line: check your policy and ask your broker. Here's an interesting article: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/my-tree-fell-neighbors-garage-who-pays.html
Long-time Piedmont Pines residents Phyllis and Lloyd Bishop fought for decades to preserve their sweeping Bay Area view on Wilton Drive that had become obstructed by their neighbor’s tree and vegetation overgrowth. After unsuccessful neighbor negotiations, mediation and lobbying before City Council to get clarification to the city’s View Ordinance, they eventually filed a lawsuit that went all the way to the California Supreme Court. They emerged victorious in 2011, though Lloyd did not live long enough to celebrate their victory.
Oakland's View Ordinance was amended in 2006. Here's a summary of how costs are allocated between tree owner and view owner
15.52.060 Apportionment of costs. The cost of all restorative actions, replacement plantings, and arbitration shall be apportioned between the view claimant and the tree owner as follows:
a. The view claimant and tree owner shall each pay fifty (50) percent of such costs in those cases involving any tree planted or allowed to sprout as a result of natural regeneration by the tree owner subsequent to the effective date of this Chapter (Ordinance No.9962, passed August 5,1980),
b. The tree owner shall pay one hundred (100) percent of such costs in those cases where:
1. The tree owner has refused to participate in good faith in the initial reconciliation or voluntary arbitration processes (Section 15. 52.090B) and where the view claimant has prevailed at trial or judicial arbitration; or
2. In any subsequent dispute between the same parties, to restore any view obstructed by the same tree or trees or any of the plantings substituted for the original offending tree or trees described in subsection A of this section.
3. The tree owner plants a tree(s) against the expressed, written objection of the view claimant and the same tree(s) later become subject of a view claim.
c. In all other cases, the view claimant shall pay one hundred (100) percent of such costs.
Oakland's Tree Protection Ordinance
If you're even thinking of removing a tree on your property, DON'T! Not until you familiarize yourself with Oakland's Tree Protection Ordinance (TPO).
This Ordinance regulates tree removal on both public and private property. The Ordinance, an element of Oakland's Municipal Code (Chapter 12.35) has been in place for many years and was instituted to protect and preserve the City's trees so they will continue to contribute to the beauty and livability of our city.
All protected trees on private property require the property owner to follow the City's permitting process PRIOR to removal. Protected trees are any Coast Live Oak four inches or larger in diameter measured 4-1/2 feet above the ground and ANY OTHER species of tree larger than nine inches in diameter.
Eucalyptus trees are the sole exception and can be removed without a permit. Monterrey Pines, although not protected, require that City staff verify their species identification before removal.
In order to proceed with a tree removal request, owners must fill out the Tree Removal Permit Application form found on the City's Tree Services website. City staff will verify the removal criteria on the application and a Red Tag will be issued for the owner to post on the tree(s) in question. This posting allows for a neighborhood public comment period, after which the removal request will be approved or denied.
Since fines for non-permitted tree removal are high, inform yourself about the Ordinance before you take any steps to remove a tree or undertake any construction work on your property that could damage a protected tree. Gay Luster at Oakland's Tree Services (510-615-5934) can answer questions and offer additional information.
Unmanaged trees increase fire risk but a well-managed forest offers shade, reduces glare, muffles traffic noise, increases summer moisture by intercepting fog, and provides food and living space for a variety of animals, birds and insects. Not least, our trees are assets that bring beauty to our neighborhoods and contribute significant value to our properties.