***FOR THE RECORD: Feb. 5’s article “Woman wants to wall out neighbor" should have said that Carl Iverson spoke in support of appellant Richard Upchurch.****
An out-of-town property owner was given by the City Council until April 6 to find tenants who are neighborly or he might find his property walled in.
The council unanimously voted to hold off a decision on appeals of the Design Review Board 3-2 approval of a wall about twice the height of city standards, requiring a variance. The wall was approved for the property of a woman who claimed she needed it for protection from harassment and threats by tenants in a triplex owned by Phillip J. Griebe, one of the appellants.
“Mr. Griebe, you need to get a property manager," Councilman Kelly Boyd said. “I recommend you clear out the [property] and find tenants who would be kind to neighbors."
Griebe submitted with his appeal a document that he notified all occupants at 1759 S. Coast Hwy. that they had to be out of the property 60 days from the date on the notice to quit, Jan. 20.
Griebe’s tenant Alexander Toland also was served with a 60-day notice Jan. 22, according to attorney Samuel Kelsall.
If Toland does not vacate the property in 60 days, Griebe has instructed Kelsall to take further legal steps.
“Since Mr. Toland was the reason for the approval of the 12-foot-wall and he will be leaving soon, the basis for the variance is going to be eliminated and the variance cannot stand," Kelsall said.
“My question is what were the findings other than a nasty, crude neighbor?" Boyd asked. “That’s not a finding."
Specific legal findings must be made to approve a variance, and they do not include inappropriate or threatening actions by a neighbor.
The board did not voice findings, but relied on staff wording to make necessary findings, Zoning Administrator Liane Schuller said.
Maria Jones asked the board to approve a 12-foot wall along the back of her property to buffer her single-family residence from alleged lewd behavior, trespassing and property damage by tenants in Griebe’s property, which is in the commercial zone.
The requested wall would also give her privacy from uphill neighbors.
“This is Laguna," said architect Carl Ivorsen, speaking on behalf of Griebe. “She’s in an R-1, he’s in a C-1 zone. We all have to learn to live together. If she wants complete privacy, she should move to Pelican Hill."
Jones already had been granted a restraining order against Toland, but she said his conduct had not improved when she made the application.
She regularly calls the police.
“On some weeks they are at my home three or four times a week and sometimes several times a night," Jones said. “I am not safe. My children are not safe. I need the wall."
Jones’ neighbor, Richard Upchurch, verified what Jones said about Griebe’s tenant, but did not think a 12-foot wall was the appropriate deterrent and also filed an appeal of the board’s approval.
The council agreed that finding justification for the wall would be difficult, if not impossible.
“I am sorry you have suffered," Councilwoman Verna Rollinger said. “I would like to see separation at the rear of your property, but I can’t imagine supporting a 12-foot wall."
The council favors a 6-foot- high fence or wall, and taller vegetation.
However, unless the problem is solved to the council satisfaction, the preference could change, warned Councilwoman Jane Egly, who proposed the delay.
“We will keep an eye on the tenants," Mayor Elizabeth Pearson said.