An ocean or other special view can add up to a $1,000,000 to the value of a piece of property. Thus, if a view is a material part of the purchase price or value of a piece of property, property owners and prospective buyers should carefully determine the legal rights to protect the view before making any construction or purchase decisions.
English common law recognizes the doctrine of “ancient lights,” under which a landowner acquired, by interrupted user, an easement over adjoining property for the passage of light and air. However, California courts long ago rejected this doctrine on the grounds that “’it is not adapted to the conditions existing in this country and could not be applied to rapidly growing communities without working mischievous consequences to property owners.”
Nonetheless, a property owner may have view protection rights if: (a) the property is located in a city of area that provides by local law or ordinance such as Malibu, Rancho Palos Verdes and Sausalito, which each has specific view protection laws; (b) the property is subject to conditions, covenants and restrictions (CC&Rs) or other types of deed restrictions that provide view rights, such as by limiting the height or number of stories a house or other structure can be built or requiring approval by an architectural committee; or (c) various other legal theories that depend on the specific facts of the matter, such as by easement created by deed reservation, lease situations, or other special laws, such as building codes, set-back requirements, etc.
Disputes over view rights have been the subject of many court disputes, and have been the subject of many reported appellate decisions.
The Pacific View Rights Center is a collaboration and exchange of information between property owners and developers, real estate brokers, attorneys, architects and anyone else that is interested in sharing information or commenting on anything on this website. Please contact us with any questions, comments or submissions. Please also check back soon for updates to this website.