My HOA has a "slope maintenance easement" without any dimensions. Is it legal for them to restrict partial use?

The slopes running behind the houses on my street, all owned by the lot owners, all vary with the amount of "slope" that is left for the HOA to maintain. If there are no dimensions stated on the recorded CC&R's, only a vague "slope maintenance" easement (no other detailed wording at all), is it legal for them to restrict a partial use of my slope? Over 25ft of the slope will still remain for the "slope maintenance" easement. Some of my neighbors have only a 5ft slope, while others have 15ft, and even 50ft, depending what they have incorporated into their yards. If we need to incorporate a portion of the slope into re-landscaping plans, is it legal for them to restrict that?

Orange, CA -

Attorney Answers (3)

Alan James Brinkmeier

Alan James Brinkmeier

Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney - Chicago, IL

Get the precise easement in writing from the HOA board and record it. Then, you may landscape per its terms

Valerie Lynne Sacks

Valerie Lynne Sacks

Land Use / Zoning Attorney - Los Angeles, CA

I'm not totally clear on the issue, but as I understand it, you should be able to use the portion of the easement area that is on your property, as long as you don't use it in any way that undercuts the purpose of the easement, i.e., slope maintenance. So landscaping it in a way that is consistent with that should be fine; building a structure or modifying the slope in a way that is not consistent with it would conflict with the purpose of the easement. I also agree with the other two comments.

Ryan Vancil Esq

Ryan Vancil Esq

Land Use / Zoning Attorney - Bainbridge Island, WA

It may or may not be legal. It sounds like the original easement is not well written (e.g. missing a good legal description of the easement area). You should try to work this out informally with HOA so that there are not problems in the future. If you do not reach agreement you might consider mediation. If your attempts to negotiate an acceptable outcome are not successful you may want to retain an attorney to review you rights.

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