Neighbor Wars - Fences

Neighbor Wars - Fences

Charles Croker was a savvy businessman accustomed to getting what he wanted. He was also a visionary with a master plan to build himself a mansion atop Nob Hill in San Francisco.  Croker's plan was near completion. All he needed to complete his dream home was to buy his neighbor’s small piece of property. Croker attempted to do so, but his neighbor Nicholas Yung refused to sell at the offered price. Yung had good reason not to sell, as Yung’s property had some of the best views of San Francisco.

I’ll Show You!As the mansion progress continued, Charles tried to negotiate an agreeable purchase price, but it was to no avail. Finally, after Yung demanded a price that Charles thought was unreasonable, Charles threatened to build a fence around Yung’s property if he would not sell.  The battle lines were drawn.

Thereafter, Croker made good on his threat and built a spite fence around his neighbor’s property, despite the exorbitant amount of money it cost to build it. This fence rose forty feet into the sky, overtaking the sunshine and the fresh air that the Yung family had previously enjoyed. (See the picture above of the fence that is highlighted in blue). The Yung family felt as if they were living at the bottom of a well and were forced to move. Over the next twenty years, a bitter feud ensued that became the icon for what is known today as a “spite fence.”
Don’t Box Me In

Few stories depict the hatred and malevolence involved in a neighbor dispute better than that of Charles Croker. Mr. Croker’s story, while infamous, is a lesson learned in civility. Fence disputes often arise over the building or upkeep of a fence, including the cost, who should pay and how much, and the type or height of the fence. Fence disputes can turn the friendliest neighbors into bitter enemies like in the case of Charles Croker.

Having a solid understanding about your rights with respect to fences can go a long way towards resolving a conflict and preventing a “spite fence” situation. For example, it is important to understand that often adjoining landowners share equally in the responsibility for maintaining the boundaries and monuments between them. What’s more is that fences may also mean trees, bushes, or hedges that form a “structure,” and don’t necessarily have to be a fence in the traditional sense of the word.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

In the end, working out your dispute without resorting to litigation is always preferred even if you are absolutely correct in your position. The amount of time and expense involved can become astronomical in comparison to working out a reasonable solution. After all, Charles Croker spent almost as much money building a “spite fence” than if we would have just agreed to Yung’s purchase price. That is where an experienced Modesto real estate attorney with Ogden Law Firm, PC can help you keep emotions out of the analysis. Give us a call at (209) 524-4466 or visit We look forward to hearing from you.