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The New York Times published a droll tale about two neighbors in Sunnyvale, CA, whose chosen means of saving the environment canceled each other out – and led to criminal charges. One planted redwood trees – which produce O2 and remove CO2 from the air – and drives a hybrid car. The other installed 128 solar panels on his roof to capture a clean, renewable source of energy and drives an electric car. One’s trees cast shade on the other’s solar panels, hence the trial and conviction:

[U]nder a 1978 state law protecting homeowners’ investment in rooftop solar panels, trees that impede solar panels’ access to the sun can be deemed a nuisance and their owners fined up to $1,000 a day. The Solar Shade Act was a curiosity until late last year, when a dispute over the eight redwoods(a k a Tree No. 1, Tree No. 2, Tree No. 3, etc.) ended up in Santa Clara County criminal court.

The couple who planted the trees, Carolynn Bissett and Richard Treanor, were convicted of violating the law, based on the complaint of their neighbor, Mark Vargas, and were ordered to make sure that no more than 10 percent of the solar panels are shaded. …

Mr. Treanor and Ms. Bissett said that after spending $37,000 on legal fees, they had no money left for an appeal.

State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has introduced legislation grandfathering trees planted before solar panels are installed that is expected to come to a vote later this month. 

Company’s Air Filter Donation Stubs Out Acrimonious Second-Hand Smoke Suit 

It was rich attorney neighbor against rich restaurant owner neighbor at the Ansonia, a historic Beaux-Arts condo - once home to Babe Ruth and Arturo Toscanini - on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In February, Jonathan and Jenny Selbin, both lawyers, filed a lawsuit against their fourth-floor neighbor, Galila Huff, over cigarette smoke wafting into the hallway from her condo jeopardized their son’s health and “made the hallway smell like a casino.” The resulting publicity prompted Aerus (formerly Electrolux) to install air filtration system in the Huff’s unit, as well as the Selbins’, at no charge to either party. “She agreed to use the donated air filters and a smokeless ashtray, which is all we ever asked her to do,” Selbin wrote in an e-mail message to The New York Times. For his part, Aerus CEO Joseph P. Urso told the paper that he “believed that the filtering system was instrumental to reaching a settlement.” 

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I wish they would get rid of the EPA. That organization has become far too powerful and damages our country. Also, there are horror stories about the EPA causing great pain and suffering to private land owners. In some ways they are worse than the IRS.

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