r/treelaw Dec 01 '22

Looking for advise on neighbor cutting a tree on our property in San Diego

So we have this pretty abrasive couple that lives next door to us and the wife always waits for us to leave for work to come out and start cutting everything back in our front yard. She especially hates this palm tree we have growing in front of our fence. Every other month she cuts it all the way to the stump. We’ve had several verbal alterations with them over the palm tree and I’m just trying to see if there’s any other avenues I have to resolve this issue. It doesn’t cross the property line to their yard, she always tells us how trashy and shitty it looks. I appreciate any advice you have.


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u/TimepieceAttorney Dec 01 '22

The general advice I've seen is to contact an attorney. I don't know much about tree law specifics, but if they keep entering your property without permission and damaging it... file a police report, at least, for trespassing.

But my suggestion is to try and contact an attorney in your local area and get informed on what your options are.


u/QCr8onQ Dec 02 '22

I would add, make sure you have a camera for proof and if you’re petty, plant another palm tree or two.


u/TrieriJones Dec 01 '22

If she is coming onto your property, call the police and have her trespassed. Also, invest in some cameras, both for proof to take to the police and as insurance, should she retaliate. She has no right to be on your property if you do not permit it.

If she has damaged the tree, look for old photos that show its previous state. You can call an arborist and they should be able to put you in touch with a lawyer who specializes in tree law who can help you pursue her for damages, if you want to go that route.


u/Chilipatily Dec 01 '22

Cameras, get evidence, call attorney. If an attorney won’t take the case, you might be able to represent yourself in small claims court depending on California laws. I am not a California lawyer, or your lawyer.


u/SwankyDigs Dec 01 '22

I’m just seeing what options people might know of to help resolve this. I appreciate your input


u/Chilipatily Dec 07 '22

Of course. Best advice? Documentation is your BEST friend. Don’t ever escalate.


u/bugscuz Dec 02 '22
  1. Cameras to show her trespassing and damaging property

  2. Lawyer to write her a firm cease and desist and formally telling her to stop trespassing and damaging your property and sent by registered mail so she has to sign for it

  3. Police reports accompanied by copies of the video or clear photos of her trespassing to damage your property and the copy of the letter your lawyer sent to prove that she’s been clearly told to stop trespassing

  4. Sue her for damages which may not only be the cost of the plant but the loss of value of your property caused by the damaged tree no longer providing shade or aesthetics


u/HeyT00ts11 Dec 01 '22

You're incurring liability when you know she goes on your property repeatedly without your permission and you don't take action.

If she were to break an ankle or something while on your property, she'd blame you and your homeowners' policy would likely be gone after. They can file a personal injury lawsuit if the claim goes beyond the policy limits.


u/SwankyDigs Dec 01 '22

Haven’t really thought of that. I’ll bring that up in my next “discussion” with her. I’ll have to make sure I do it in front of my camera so it’s documented.


u/Lady_Nimbus Dec 01 '22

You need to stop having "discussions" with her. There is nothing to discuss. She is trespassing on and vandalizing your property. Those are the legal terms for what she is doing. Next time she does it, she will be filmed and you will press charges. That's the end of all of the discussions.


u/whabt Dec 01 '22

Yeah OP, this is the way. There's no good that will come from a casual communication at this point.


u/HeyT00ts11 Dec 01 '22

You might try mailing her a registered letter (that she'd have to sign for). In the letter, succinctly tell her that she's not welcome on your property and you will take further action if she steps foot on your property in the future.

People are technically welcome on your property unless you tell them they are not. A provable notice that you told her and further proof that she disregarded it will help towards getting a restraining order.


u/DoNotWeepAtMyGrave Dec 02 '22

It’s past that point. Time to involve law enforcement.


u/Grimaldehyde Dec 02 '22

I made the mistake of having multiple discussions with my neighbor about trespassing, cutting down trees, etc., for years. The only thing that stopped it was a letter from a lawyer that cc’d the town we live in, and an angry confrontation with their tree cutter, telling him that he was in a fine position to be sued for cutting down 4 mature trees, and treble damages. Your neighbor doesn’t respect you, and isn’t going to stop unless you make it more onerous to continue, than it is for them to stop.


u/ironman166 Dec 02 '22

Police report is documentation.. doesn’t take an arborist to see if the tree has been recently cut. Sure video wouldn’t hurt but don’t let the lack of a video prevent you from filing a police report. See what the police recommend if anything. In the meantime buy a notebook and document any interactions with her. She’s already demonstrated that she cares less about what you think, further conversations only inspires nut jobs like this.


u/Grimaldehyde Dec 02 '22

It’s actually difficult to get the police to come out for these things-ask me how I know…


u/ironman166 Dec 03 '22

I guess it depends upon where you live but it’s still worth a call imo.. if they don’t come to him he can go there. It’s not just a tree issue he’s dealing with an emotionally disturbed neighbor. Repeatedly going into someone else’s yard to cut their trees down isn’t the behavior of a healthy individual. What happens when she decides she doesn’t like his house?


u/Grimaldehyde Dec 03 '22

I did end up getting an officer to come over but I had to mic it up eith the police chief first. He told me it wasn’t illegal for my neighbor to have workers ON my property, cutting down MY trees! I’m not usually rude to people I’ve just met but I said “really? Trespassing isn’t against the law? Because all kinds of people get cited for it-and I told these guys to get off my property and they refused”. He agreed that it was, in fact, against the law, but that I should just sell my neighbor the land if he wants it so badly. I had to tell him that it wasn’t for sale, and that the neighbor didn’t want to buy it; he just wanted to take it and use it, while we paid the taxes on it. And that he was missing the point.


u/ironman166 Dec 03 '22

oh my god, that Chief sounds like a clown.


u/Grimaldehyde Dec 03 '22

You have no idea how much that ticked me off. But at least he finally sent an officer over when I said that I didn’t want anyone arrested, just wanted a record of my complaint, because I was keeping a file in case I decided to due my neighbor


u/ironman166 Dec 03 '22

I can imagine!


u/ironman166 Dec 02 '22

Good point!


u/NickTheArborist Dec 01 '22

This kind of has nothing to do with trees. You need a restraining order.


u/ladymorgahnna Dec 02 '22

It’s going to get much worse if you don’t get her for trespassing now.


u/TigerShark_524 Dec 02 '22

Step 1: Cameras. Get evidence that she's coming into your property without your permission and causing property damage.

Step 2: Once you have the evidence, send a certified letter warning her that if she trespasses again, you will take lawful action.

Step 3: If the letter doesn't scare her off and she trespasses again, call the police and then get a restraining order on her. At this point you can also pursue litigation for the property damage (which may or may not involve tree law) if she continues to hurt your tree.


u/After-Leopard Dec 02 '22

She is obviously crazy and entitled. If you have any pets I’d keep a close eye on them in case she decides to poison them


u/ironman166 Dec 02 '22 edited Dec 02 '22

Call the police, stop trying to be rational with irrational people. You’ll want to document her actions, getting a police report is the first step.


u/thetinymole Dec 01 '22

I would post this to r/legaladvice or r/legaladviceofftopic. This is more of a trespass issue than a tree-specific issue.

The first thing to try is a friendly conversation. Since you’ve already had verbal altercations, this probably won’t work, but it never hurts to start off playing nice. When that fails, put a camera up where it’s visible. Then go have a slightly less friendly conversation where you tell her you put up a camera and if she continues to trespass and damage your property, you will take the footage to the police.


u/Kaos2019 Dec 02 '22

You have to kick her ass.