My question involves real estate located in the State of: Calif
My question is concerning planting trees on an easement in Southern Calif. I have a 60ft wide easement that runs along the side of my 3 ac property. The easement is for utilities (by deed), and provides access to the land locked properties behind mine (not mentioned on the deed). I have maintained the easement as cleared property (no plantings) so access is maintained not only for my neighbors, but for fire truck staging during fire season, and digging when there have been water, gas and electric problems (aka big equipment access along with the large holes that need to be dug). I agreed to have the road's mailboxes relocated to the front of the easement (versus across a busy road at the top of our properties) for the safety of both my neighbors and myself. I have placed my fence at the inside edge of this easement to ensure an easy clear access to this easement by the utilities and fire department - in short I have done my best maintain this 60 ft line of property open and accessible, but I am the owner of the easement. Now my neighbors want to plant trees along this strip of land approx 10 - 20 ft within the easement which would reduce the actual access to 40-50 ft versus the 60 ft utility easement (by deed). I've done my best to be a 'good neighbor' and maintain the access 'I believed' was required by this easement - what are the ramifications if I allow this tree planting?
Another item for consideration (this is a rural ranching area)....within this easement is the major water shutoff for the community (not just the road residents), the only emergency water connection for fire trucks, and the a major gas line connection. Am I liable for any damage the trees may cause to these utility lines? Am I liable for tree removal if the utilities or Fire Dept requests it? Or have I already abandoned this large strip of land by the concessions I have already made or may make in the future (aka tree planting). Should I 'just say no' and keep the land cleared and make my neighbors just be satisfied that they have a road to get to their homes and access to mailboxes without risking life and limb crossing a busy road?
One more item for thought -
There are 10 homes behind mine that use this road/easement. Last year we got together and formed a 'Friends of the Road' group and installed a one lane asphalt road along with a fund we all contribute to for it's maintenance. The water and gas lines to the 10 homes runs down the middle of this easement. The trees that they are planning to plant are Calif Pepper trees a close cousin to the infamous willows of the East and Midwest - known to tear up foundations and pipes - very invasive but beautiful. Reading posts on other boards, I'm fear I may be tempting fate with liability for damage to these utility lines to these homes. Calif Peppers are fast growing and can grow to 20+ ft in 4-5 years.
Do I continue trying to be the 'good neighbor' or should I become the SOB of the road for my own liability and financial security?