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The procedures described in this Section shall be followed in the resolution of tree disputes between private parties.
(a) Initial Reconciliation. A complaining party who believes in good faith that the growth, maintenance or location of a tree on the private property of a tree owner diminishes the beneficial use or economic value of his or her property because the tree interferes with the access to sunlight or views naturally accruing to the property, shall notify the tree owner in writing of these concerns. The notification should, if possible, be accompanied by personal discussions to enable the complaining party and tree owner to attempt to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
(b) Community Board Mediation. If the initial reconciliation attempt fails, the complaining party may propose mediation with the Community Boards of San Francisco as a means to settle the dispute on a relatively informal basis. Acceptance of mediation by the tree owner shall be voluntary. Parties should be encouraged to give notice to immediate neighbors and solicit input. The Community Board mediator should consider the objectives, benefits and burdens set forth in this Article in attempting to help both parties reach a resolution of the dispute.
(c) Tree Claim Preparation. In the event that the initial reconciliation process fails and Community Board mediation either is not elected or fails, the complaining party must prepare a tree claim as defined in Section 822(j), and provide a copy to the tree owner in order to pursue either binding arbitration or litigation. This process constitutes the filing of a tree claim.
(d) Binding Arbitration. In those cases where the initial reconciliation process fails and where Community Board mediation has not resolved the dispute, the complaining party must offer to submit the dispute to binding arbitration, and the tree owner may elect binding arbitration. The identity of the tree arbitrator shall be agreed upon by both the complaining party and the tree owner who shall indicate such agreement in writing. This agreement may provide for employment of experts representing the parties or may be limited to an investigation of the tree claim conducted by the tree arbitrator. The tree arbitrator shall follow the provisions of this Article to reach a fair resolution of the tree claim and shall submit a complete written report to the complaining party and the tree owner. This report shall include the tree arbitrator's findings with respect to all standards listed in Section 824 and a pertinent list of all mandated restorative actions with any appropriate conditions concerning such actions including a schedule by which mandates must be completed. Such actions must be completed with due regard for the health of the tree.
(e) Litigation. In those cases where initial reconciliation fails and binding arbitration is not elected, civil action may be pursued by the complaining party for resolution of the sunlight access or view tree claim under the provisions of this ordinance. The litigant must state in the complaint that arbitration was offered and not accepted.
(Added by Ord. 445-88, App. 9/28/88)