Isn’t it every kid’s dream to have a treehouse? — a little place of their own to hang out and conspire on how to get more cookies and less school time?
When I was young, we built “forts.” I don’t think we realized that a “fort” was basically a military term short for “fortress,” because our structures were not based on military or combat play. They were places to hang out. They gave us our own place to just be kids. In this way, they were very much like treehouses, only on the ground.
But, I lived in the country. We had no neighbors. We had lots of woods. Kids who live in cities are more inclined toward the treehouse route since there isn’t a lot of wooded space in town to make your own forts.
Anyway, two brothers got their wish for a treehouse last April.
Logan and his parents, Scott and Kacey Olson, his grandparents and his brother Dillon, 12, built the elaborate treehouse in the front yard of the Olsons’ house at 1907 Beverly Hill Blvd.
By late June, Logan and Dillon had a solidly built, 17-foot-high, 80-square-foot treehouse with a deck on three sides.
The brothers helped to build the treehouse, and they are currently trying to save it.
The civics lesson began in late September, when somebody lodged a complaint with the city’s Building Division because the Olsons hadn’t obtained a building permit.
As it turned out, they didn’t need one. Nicole Cromwell, the city’s zoning coordinator, said permits are unnecessary for buildings of less than 120 square feet.
So, what’s the problem? As the family tried to comply with the unnecessary request for a building permit, the city discovered that the treehouse violates municipal code in another way.
Although a “structure” technically is a building on the ground, the treehouse does have four wooden support beams, which qualifies it as an “accessory structure,” and zoning rules say accessory structures have to be set back at least 20 feet from the property line. The closest post is 5 feet, 6 inches from the front property line.
The boys are currently trying to obtain a variance.
Over three days — once in a rainstorm — they and several friends knocked on doors for many blocks around, eventually gathering 61 signatures of people supporting a variance for their treehouse.
As Dillon explained it, their pitch was straightforward. He told people, “If you think it’s a good idea that we should keep our treehouse, you should sign this.”
Good for them. The treehouse isn’t hurting anyone. It actually looks quite nice and safe. I can’t see any good reason for it to be torn down.
Not everyone agrees with me. Read the comments section for a little tidbit from a person who hasn’t yet realized that the law is out of control.