Larry Ellison sues neighbor for blocking Bay views
Too bad the neighbors of Larry Ellison, the CEO of Bay Area based Oracle Corp., don’t have any ties to the Julia Butterfly Hill or the four Berkeley tree sitters, who spent 649 days living on the trees to protest their planned destruction. They may wish they did, now that a lawsuit brought on by Larry Ellison is about to hit the courts.
Larry Ellison, who is the fifth richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $39.5 billion, is well known for his taste in real estate. He spent millions and several years developing his Japanese inspired, Zen compound down in Woodside. His home in the city, appropriately located in Pacific Heights, is over 10,000 square feet, with 5 bedrooms and commands grand, sweeping views of the Bay. Purchased back in 1988 for $3.9 million, he’s now suing his neighbors for letting their trees get too tall and obstructing his views.
The owners of the trees, Bernard and Jane Von Bothmer, became Larry’s neighbors back in 2004 when they purchased their home that is just down slope from his house. He had once offered $15 million to buy their property, which they purchased for $6.9 million, but they rejected. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Larry has hired an attorneys specializing in tree disputes and is claiming loss of natural light and views in his suit against his neighbors.
The court date follows a lawsuit Mr. Ellison filed last June alleging he will suffer “irreparable injury” from lost property value if the court doesn’t make the Von Bothmers cut their trees in order to “restore Plaintiff’s views and sunlight.”
Disputes about trees and views in the city between homeowners are surprisingly not that uncommon. The city of San Francisco has specific guidelines that owners are asked to follow with tree disputes.
In 1988, the city passed a “Tree Dispute Resolution Ordinance” requiring a complainant to seek “initial reconciliation” with the tree owner, file a “tree claim” if that doesn’t work and, if necessary, submit the dispute to “binding arbitration.” If all else fails, the dispute can go to court.
It appears now that all else has failed. In the court deposition, the Von Bothmers claimed that they have caught workers in their trees preparing to cut branches, while Larry says if that is true, they weren’t working for him. This is just one of the multiple claims by both sides over the trees. With trial set to start June 6th, we’ll soon learn if Larry will get his views back or not.
May 31 2011 at 03:50 PM|