Jackhammer brings public awareness to decades long encroachment dispute

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Safe Haven Realty CalBRE# 01433049

fence through carport

Well, here is something you don't see every day. A home owner in Santa Rosa is fed up with the City for not requiring the removal of a carport that was built without permits. The biggest issue at hand, says the home owner, is that the carport was built across his property line, reducing the size of his yard by 200 square feet.

After more than 40 years and multiple owners, the current home owner saw an opportunity when Bank of America foreclosed on the offending structure. He rented a jackhammer and made 15 holes in the asphalt, installed metal stakes and ran wire from the sidewalk to the back of the carport.

The home owner has spent over $30,000 fighting this problem, he has had enough. I don't blame him. If a City is not going to intervene when a neighbor builds an unpermitted structure on your property, then they are sending a clear message that we don't have something called "property rights".

This dispute should have been handled 4 decades ago. This property should never have been allowed to sell in previous years with the existence of known violations. I'm hoping the City of Santa Rosa does the right thing and forces Bank of America to remove or reduce the size of the carport.

This story should be a huge warning to home buyers everywhere. Do NOT buy a home with unpermitted additions. You will be inheriting any problems that surface in the future as if it was YOU who did the illegal work. Unpermitted work can be made legal, given enough money and possibly some upgrades to bring any additions up to today's building codes. This, however, is a situation that must be dealt with PRIOR to closing.


 fenced in


Posted by

Safe Haven Realty

Cynthia Larsen (707-332-2560) is an independent broker and owner of Safe Haven Realty in Sonoma County, California. Visit www.safehavenrealty.com to view available homes for sale and to learn more about this beautiful wine country destination.

CA Broker License #01433049




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Faye Y. Taylor
StepStone Realty, LLC - Floresville, TX
Homes for Sale Floresville, La Vernia & San Antoni

Wow is all I can say.  Wonder how wide the setback is?    Looks like the entire addition needs to go or at least half of it.


What do you think the Realtors and the buyers think when they see this?   Knowing some buyers and Realtors it may be nothing.

The guy needs to put a sign on the fence saying this is my property line. 

Nov 01, 2011 08:04 AM #1
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

So does the bank just need to buy the encroached property from him to make it okay?

Nov 01, 2011 08:10 AM #2
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Faye - this is a 2 car wide carport. I'm not sure what the setback is, but at least half this structure would need to go. Maybe they could make it a tandem carport? This will turn off all buyers, I really feel for the listing agent because he is a good guy. I agree ... a sign would be good.

BLiz - the encroached upon owner doesn't want to sell the property. The carport owner tried to sue for an easement but lost, they were slapped with a $45K fine, yet here the carport still sits.

Nov 01, 2011 08:12 AM #3
Dave Roberts
Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty - Healdsburg, CA

I feel for the agent and the "encroached upon" owner next door. When I first read this article I thought he was doing a smart thing by making sure new owners understood they had a structure in violation of the code. 

Nov 01, 2011 08:14 AM #4
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Dave - If I were the listing agent I would have my head in my hands right now. I think this is a REALLY clear message to potential buyers. And since this is happening on one of the most expensive streets in Santa Rosa, it is sending a clear message to City Hall as well.

Nov 01, 2011 08:19 AM #5
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Cynthia - It's amazing that this issue has been around for 40 years without a resolution - it seems pretty clear who the bad guy is, as well as that the owner seems to have wasted $30k on ineffective legal representation and that the property never should have closed in previous sales with an issue like that. Please post how this turns out if you can. Thanks.

Nov 01, 2011 08:34 AM #6
Marti Steele Kilby, CRS
Steele Group Realty - La Mesa, CA
Broker/Owner, San Diego, CA

Boy!  I agree with Dick!  I can't imagine how this property has changed hands so many times without this becoming a title insurance issue that would have stopped any lender in their tracks.

Nov 01, 2011 09:10 AM #7
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Holy Double Dose . . . battling BofA AND a governmental (emphasis on the MENTAL part of that word) and it's a real double dose of annoyance.  Wonder what happened 40 years ago to have this encroachment to begin with.

Nov 01, 2011 09:58 AM #8
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Dick - according to the local paper, there are letters that date back to 1970 asking the offender to remove the carport.

Marti - I guess there was never any type of lien or lis pendens filed? The owner who erected the carport in the late 60's died just a little while back and had still owned the house all those years.The property changed hands once, this will be the second time.

Carla - I'm not sure the guy who built the carport knew that he was encroaching. Permits is whole other issue, he built many additions without permits.

Nov 01, 2011 12:08 PM #9
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Cynthia - OY VEY!!!  I too can not believe that the City of Santa Rosa has allowed this to go on for as long as it has.  Has the owner whose property was encroached ever tried to file suit against the city for their involvement of allowing the former owner to encroach the other owners property?

Nov 01, 2011 03:40 PM #10
John M. Scott
BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties - San Francisco, CA
Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area

This is just incredible Cynthia. Why would the city allow this for so long when it is so clear. 

Nov 01, 2011 04:46 PM #11
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

I love it, now that is a great story of Americana. The homeowners answer to boycott Wall Street! 

Nov 02, 2011 03:08 AM #12
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Donne - I'm not sure, but there is a hearing the middle of this month. B of A has been encouraged to attend since they are the new owner of the home with the numerous violations. I have a feeling it will be sorted out soon, now that this story landed on the front page of our local newspaper. This street is one of the most expensive in Santa Rosa and is also a historical district. Oops.

John - I'm not sure how hard this fight has been fought until now. The jackhammer incident brought this to light ... who knew??

Paul - I'm loving it too. Enough is enough.

Nov 02, 2011 05:26 AM #13
Forest Tardibuono
Sun Pacific Mortgage & Real Estate - Santa Rosa, CA
The Guy in the White Hat - Your Hard Money Broker!

Wow is right! It's like the real life version of sitcom problems "You're tree is dropping leaves on my property!". I cannot believe that this problem has persisted to this length of time, that's insane. Props to the neighbor for attempting to handle the unpermitted structure. What's a home owner to do?

Nov 09, 2011 06:43 AM #14
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Sun Pacific - Isn't this wild?

Nov 09, 2011 11:37 AM #15
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