This case involved a dispute between a homeowner (Owner) and his homeowners association (Association) over Owners right to construct a home addition to his property that increased the overall height of the improvements on his property by seven feet. The addition created a slight obstruction of the view from at least one neighboring property out to Puget Sound.
In denying Owners request for approval of the intended addition, Association concluded that any increase in the height of Owners house would impact views from at least one neighboring property and that any view obstruction was a violation of Associations CC&Rs. Upset with Associations denial of his request for approval of his project, Owner filed suit against Association seeking a declaratory judgment that his proposed home addition did not violate the CC&Rs and that Association had acted unreasonably in denying his proposal. Owner also sought damages from Association for loss of use of his property and the increased construction costs of the remodel.
The trial court entered a judgment in favor of Owner after finding that his proposed addition did not violate the CC&Rs and directed Association to issue an approval letter for Owners home addition. In addition, the trial court awarded Owner $298,784 in damages to be paid by Association. Association appealed the trial courts judgment.
In evaluating the language of the CC&Rs, the appellate court found that the language of the relevant provision in the CC&Rs clearly and unambiguously prohibit the construction or modification of existing structures that would obstruct the Puget Sound or Park view of any other parcel. The court found that this language constituted an unqualified prohibition of any obstruction of existing views, no matter how minimal, and that partial or de minimis obstructions were not exempted from the scope of the restrictive covenant. The appellate court ruled that the trial court improperly imputed a de minimis standard relative to the impairment of views from neighboring properties when Associations restrictive covenant contained an objective standard against which the determination of an obstruction in view was to be measured. The appellate court stated that the test was whether or not a view was obstructed or not obstructedirrespective of whether or not the obstruction was de minimis. Thus, in finding that the trial court had erred by not enforcing the covenant in question, the appellate court reversed the trial courts judgment and the award of damages in favor of Owner.
In ruling on another issue raised by Association in the appeal relative to the trial courts determination that Association had violated Owners procedural due process rights in connection with Owners request for approval of the addition, the appellate court also ruled that an HOAs internal proceedings could not be found to violate the due process requirements that are set forth in the Fourteenth Amendment. The appellate court ruled that the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment are intended to limit the activities of state actors and, since Association is a private entity, it could not have violated Owners procedural due process rights in connection with its internal process involved in denying his requested addition. The appellate court concluded that Owner had been provided his due process rights in connection with the judicial proceedings.
PUBLISHED Washington State Appellate Court decision (March 19, 2018).
See case decision: Pritchett_v._Picnic_Point_Homeowners_Ass’n_Nonprofit_Corp._(Wash._App._2018)1