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What to Do if Your Home View Is Blocked in California

Is It Legal to Block Someone’s Home View?

Both the federal and state government of California do very little to protect your view from your home from being blocked. The only notable statewide protection that your home view has is that it is illegal to block someone’s view with something that has absolutely no reasonable use to a homeowner. 

While there are few state/federal laws protecting your view, many municipalities enact local ordinances and other forms of zoning laws, commonly known as “view ordinances.” In some shape or form, they are meant to prevent your neighbors from building things or planting trees that would greatly disrupt your view. In California, view ordinances are quite common, especially in coastal areas where homeowners are especially interested in protecting their view, and in turn, the value of their home.

EX: If someone blocks your home view by planting a new tree in their front yard, you should examine your residence’s view ordinances to see what kind of legal pathways for protecting your view are available to you. Perhaps they violated the law by planting a banned type of tree, a tree that is too tall, too many trees, or a tree in a banned place.

If My City Does Not Have a Local View Ordinance, Are There Still Ways to Protect My View?

Homeowners associations (HOAs) often create their own rules on blocking someone’s view and lay them out in their contracts. Even if your city does not have a view ordinance, you may be able to pressure your HOA into taking legal action against a person blocking your view, especially if the object blocking it also is affecting other homeowners in the association.

While some cities lack specific view ordinances, they may have “nuisance laws,” which provide general regulation for objects that may cause a nuisance to others in the community. Notably, trees are usually not covered by these laws, but you may be able to cite nuisance laws in order to demand someone to remove other view-blocking objects.

What Is an Easement and How Can It Help Me Keep My View?

An easement is a contract between a homeowner and someone else (usually who lives nearby) who has an interest in telling the homeowner how to use their land. These are common contracts used by people who want to protect their views. They can be purchased before the view is blocked to ensure its protection or after it is blocked to remedy a view dispute.

EX: John decides to plant a tall palm tree in front of his beachfront home, which blocks the ocean view of Ted’s home. Unfortunately for Ted, there are no local view ordinances preventing John from doing so. Ted decides to create an easement with John, paying him $10,000 for him to agree to never plant a tree taller than 6 feet on his premises.

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