Our back neighbor wants us to trim our trees. Actually, he’d like us to cut the trees down, but he’ll settle for having them trimmed back to the property line. He’s a nice enough young guy — he made no trouble about splitting the cost of a new fence. But he’s got a bee in his bonnet about the trees.
They were there three or four years ago, when he bought the house. And … well, we’re liberals. We like trees. The bigger and bushier the better. So how do we mediate this budding dispute?
I checked with the city government. I was told there are no ordinances that cover this situation. “It’s a civil matter,” they told me. Translation: If he thinks the trees are a nuisance and we decline to do what he would like us to do to abate the alleged nuisance, he can take us to civil court, and a judge will decide what should be done.
The guy has a swimming pool in his back yard. The pool was there when he bought the house. This is his first house, and I think he just didn’t have a clear idea of what’s involved in having a swimming pool. Like, cleaning it. Tree junk falls in it, and he doesn’t like that. Of course, some of the junk is from a tree on his side of the fence, and I don’t see him rushing to cut it down.
The real issue, it seems to me, is that life comes bundled with annoyances. In particular, living in a neighborhood means that the lives and preferences of the people around you will sometimes impinge on yours. Let’s see, there’s the insane yapping dog in the house next door to this neighbor’s (fortunately it isn’t heard from often). There are the roving cats who think our back yard is their private sandbox. People walk their dogs down the sidewalk, and the dogs occasionally have the same concept about the front lawn, which is intensely irritating. The guy across the street has two cars parked at the curb that are, as far as I can tell, non-operational — the cars haven’t moved in at least a year, they’re kind of junky-looking, and they make it more difficult for me to back out of the driveway. Once in a while, a couple of kids use our street for a private raceway, roaring up and down on motor-powered skateboards with no mufflers.
I’m sure most people could make up a similar list. The point is, if you want to live on a private five-acre country estate, go ahead. I’m not stopping you. If you can’t afford to do that, then you’re going to have to deal with the rest of us. You don’t get to have it all your own way.