Updated Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 10:47 PM
A Chinese pine on the edge of Bruce and Linda Baker's Clyde Hill property is worth $18,400, based on an arborist's calculation of the cost to replace the rare tree.
But the tree drops the value of John and Kelly Olerud's house across the street by $255,000 because it blocks much of their westerly view, according to a recent appraisal.
John Olerud, a former Seattle Mariner, American League batting champion and three-time Gold Glove winner, commissioned the appraisal to bolster his request that the city order the tree removed under Clyde Hill's view-protection ordinance.
The Oleruds have been attempting for more than two years to persuade — or force — the Bakers to cut down two trees that diminish their hillside view of Lake Washington, Seattle and the Olympic Mountains.
The Bakers have refused.
The city Board of Adjustment will hold a second hearing Wednesday on the Oleruds' request for an order to cut the trees down. The board has never issued a removal order since the "view obstruction and tree removal" ordinance was adopted in 1991.
A survey submitted by the Oleruds two weeks ago said the Chinese pine and a Colorado spruce behind it block 40 percent of what would otherwise be a 30-degree western view from a porch off the family room. The view isn't wider because of other trees on the hillside, including a cedar on the Bakers' land.
If the pine and spruce were cut down, the value of the Oleruds' 12-room, 6,680-square-foot hillside home would rise from $4.045 million to $4.3 million, appraisers Patrick Lamb and Barry Wilson calculated.
Property values are closely associated with views in Clyde Hill, a city of almost 3,000 between Bellevue and Medina.
The Bakers' Chinese pine, possibly 50 years old, was there long before the Oleruds bought the property across the street in 2006 and built their luxury house.
The Bakers have cut down a coast redwood; agreed to remove the spruce, valued at $4,800; and pruned the Chinese pine in a way intended to allow some of the view to show through. But they don't want to part with the pine, which they see as beautiful and the Oleruds call an eyesore.
The Oleruds' house is separated from the Bakers' by a street and a grassy lot owned by the Oleruds. The King County assessor rates the view from the Olerud house as "average," the view from the Bakers' $1.1 million house as "excellent."
The board can order the Bakers' trees removed if it finds they unreasonably obstruct the Oleruds' views. Among the factors the board may consider are how much of the view is blocked, whether landmarks are obscured, how the Oleruds' property value is affected, and how the trees and the views they obstruct affect both families' enjoyment of their properties.
Arborist Brian Gilles, hired by the Oleruds, urged the board to order the trees removed, calling them "a quintessential example of why the law was enacted."
Gilles wrote it would not be hard to find small trees or large shrubs that would serve as appropriate replacements for the trees, but Bruce Baker said tree brokers couldn't provide a pine small enough to give the Oleruds a fuller view but large enough to satisfy the Bakers.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105
STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
A Chinese pine drops the value of John and Kelly Olerud's house across the street by $255,000, an appraisal says.
MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES