John Olerud Really Wants His Neighbor's Tree Cut DownS

The Pacific Northwest is God's country, and there may not be any more beautiful slice than Clyde Hill. Literally located upon a hill, Clyde Hill is one square mile of the most beautiful views in the state. Look east, and there are the Cascades. Look south, and there's Mt. Ranier. And west, just across the lake, the glimmering skyline of Seattle. It's no wonder that Clyde Hill boasts one of the state's highest median incomes, with home prices directly tied to the lot's view.

There's a massive, 50-year-old Chinese pine in the yard across the street from John Olerud's house. He wants it gone.

The Oleruds have been feuding with their neighbors, the Bakers, over the pine for over two years. The Oleruds say the view blocks the view from their $4 million home. The Bakers say the tree was there long before the house existed, and is a rare specimen worth $18,000. Exhausting neighborly negotiation, Olerud has taken his case to the Board of Adjustment. But don't make the mistake of thinking John Olerud, one of the steadiest and nicest guys in baseball, is involved in some vitriolic death struggle. The Rev. Dr. Baker calls Olerud "a good man" and says the debate has been nothing but civil. And Olerud invokes religion as well:

"You guys saw the trees," Olerud said at the board hearing. "They're not attractive trees. I would say they're the kind of tree that only an arborist would love. ...

"I'm just making the point that if you're willing to cut down your own trees to maintain your view and yet you aren't willing to offer that to your neighbor, how is that being a good neighbor?

"The Bible says, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.' That's Jesus' commandment."

Anyway, here's 1,200 words on zoning laws that wouldn't be news if it didn't involve John gosh-darn Olerud. We're kind of glad it does, because the perils and shibboleths of suburbia are fascinating.

Tree fosters dispute over what's a good neighbor [Seattle Times]