Ranch at the Falls LLC v. O’Neal
Facts: The owner of a ranch receives multiple deliveries and visitors daily for the operation of their business. There are two points of access to the ranch. The western access runs through a neighboring community governed by a homeowners’ association (HOA). Non-HOA owners of all property abutting the community have an easement allowing them to traverse the community’s central highway, though the western ranch access also traverses other streets in the community which are only for use by community residents. The eastern access road runs across a narrow, unsafe bridge. The HOA notifies the ranch owner they may no longer use the private streets within the community for deliveries or visitor access.
Claim: The ranch owner seeks an equitable easement for use of the community’s private streets, claiming they are entitled to an easement since the hardship of having to use the unsafe bridge on the eastern side of the property outweighs the nuisance caused by their use of the community streets.
Counterclaim: The HOA claims the owner does not qualify for an equitable easement since the streets in question are not covered by the original easement allowing abutting property owners to use the central highway.
Holding: A California appeals court holds the owner does not qualify for an equitable easement since the streets in question are not covered by the original easement allowing abutting property owners use of the central highway. [Ranch at the Falls LLC v. O’Neal (July 31, 2019)_CA6th_]