Neighbor Sues Kevin Costner over Hedge Height

Contends Tall Plants Ruin His Ocean View

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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Academy award-winning actor and Santa Barbara resident Kevin Costner is being sued by his next-door neighbor Charles Richard “Rick” Grimm for damages of up to $500,000.

Costner’s 10-foot hedges are allegedly blocking 50 percent of Grimm’s ocean and coastline views from Beach Club Road in Carpinteria. It was announced Monday that high-profile local attorney Shereef Mohrram of Price, Postel, & Parma will represent Grimm, an investment banker.

Grimm claims that Costner’s hedges violate a code that puts a six-foot limit on “hedges, fences, and walls” on the property. According to court documents, Costner’s wife, Christine, wrote in a 2009 email to Grimm that the hedges are in place to protect the family’s privacy from vacationers who rent Grimm’s property and supposedly peer over the fence to catch glimpses of the celebrity family.

Kevin Costner at the 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Click to enlarge photo

Kevin Costner at the 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Grimm suggests that the court order Costner to remove or replace the hedges that impede the views to the east of his residence. If Costner refuses, Grimm wishes to be reimbursed $500,000 in damages.

This is not the first time an A-lister has been embroiled in hedge warfare in this neck of the woods. In 2006, Rob Lowe’s wife, Sheryl Berkoff, lost a lawsuit with her Padaro Lane neighbors who she claimed had trimmed their hedges so short that they were infringing upon the Lowes’ privacy.

The Costner and Grimm properties are located on parcels of land that were subdivided by the widow Elsie S. Holloway in 1956. The Holloway Tract — which lays out the conditions of the subdivision — states in a Declaration of Restrictions that “no wall, fence, or hedge shall exceed six (6) feet in height” and that any future owner who violates this restriction is subject to legal action.

When Grimm purchased the Beach Club Road property in 2009, views of the Pacific Ocean and coastline from the south-facing rooms and deck were “generally unobstructed,” according to court documents. When he bought the land, he sent a letter to his neighbors making it clear that he would be using the property as a vacation rental.

At that time, there was a six-foot, ivy-covered fence on Grimm’s side of the property. But in October 2009, the Costners installed a hedge planting on their side of the property line that was “approximately ten feet high.” They also planted several pine trees closer to the beach that Grimm claims almost completely obstructed views from his deck.

Court filings show that Grimm complained about the hedge heights in an email to the Costners, to which Christine Costner responded that the couple would do “what we have to in order to feel comfortable in our own house.” Several months later, the potted pines on the Costner property were replaced with giant birds of paradise.

In a second email exchange in January 2012, Colin Miller, an employee of Rick Grimm, allegedly made contact with Christine Costner to request that the hedge be trimmed to the legal six feet to which she agreed with explicit plans to contact her gardener.

But rather than follow through, Grimm alleges that in April of this year, the Costners planted around nine Mexican fan palms on the shared property line. These plants have the potential to grow upward of 80 feet.

In a conversation on May 23, 2012, Miller reportedly confronted Costner about the plantings. Costner responded that he had no intention to “back down” and that it was his top priority to protect the privacy of his family.

This past Monday, Grimm filed suit against Costner, which will be the actor’s second legal battle in the past month. Costner defeated fellow actor Stephen Baldwin in a lawsuit several weeks ago that charged him with cheating in a multimillion-dollar oil cleanup deal with BP in the wake of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Costner must respond to Grimm’s allegations within the next 30 days. And if the court’s response is similar to the 2006 Lowe hedge debacle, the Costners may soon be dusting off their pruning shears.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Another frivolous lawsuit from the vampire contingent. Maybe the Costners can sue Grimm for encouraging tenants to invade their privacy.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 20, 2012 at 6:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It is no wonder that people hate the rich. The rich feel so entitled by their wealth that they will broach not the slightest inconvenience. Would I sue my neighbor for his barking dog or the students across the street whose need to park their many vehicles on the street make trash night a challenge? How about the jerk that dropped in on me surfing the other day, should I sue her? Of course not. This guy Grimm does not reallize that he owns a house in one of the most prime locations in the world. He is not acknowledging his luck and good fortune. A wise judge would send him packing and charge him court costs. What a jerk!

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
June 20, 2012 at 7:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

$500,000? How could he possibly be damaged that much?

Tigershark (anonymous profile)
June 20, 2012 at 7:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If I were Costner I would tear down the hedge and plant 1000 of those 80 foot trees. There's nothing in the language about trees.

Num1UofAn (anonymous profile)
June 20, 2012 at 8:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A lot of tenants would appreciate the extra privacy the Costners' are providing at their own cost.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 20, 2012 at 8:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Crazy. Santa Barbara View broke the story and has the full complaint and pictures over on their online magazine. Costner, C'mon Man!

sallyc (anonymous profile)
June 21, 2012 at 8:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Grimm bought the property for a vacation rental, not a primary residence. Part of the attraction includes a close up and personal view of celebrities. Disappointed visitors aren't getting the best bang for the buck because the stars won't come out and play. The fact that Mr. Grimm estimates a $500,00 loss over the next ten years because Mr. Costner values his privacy is not the movie star's fault.

turnleft (anonymous profile)
June 22, 2012 at 4:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Turnleft is right. Montecito isn't the SB Zoo.

Hence we dedicate this song to Grimm:

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 22, 2012 at 3:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Turnleft is right."
If a blogger named turnright joined this thread, and all the other blogggers left, then if someone asks you "who remains" you could say "turnright is left"

billclausen (anonymous profile)
June 22, 2012 at 6:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That is why the really rich buy vast swaths of land, as a buffer zone to keep creeps like Grimm and his celebrity crazed tourist tenants well at bay. 40 acres minimum, I say. and even that is hardly enough. there is no privacy in a city setting of rows upon rows of houses, nor peace and quiet. I personally have more than 200 acres at my disposal and I am not a celebrity nor am I rich, it is what I wanted and it is what I got.

GluteousMaximus (anonymous profile)
June 24, 2012 at 8:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'd put a big sign up facing the Grimm shack, "Get a life".

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 24, 2012 at 10:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Costner's home is just a one story family home smaller than that of most middle class people I know - not oversized garish mansion that looks like 2 story submarine that "Investment Banker" Grimm purchased in 2009 as for use as rental property. Costner has his family to protect and the right to privacy that any of us desire especially when Grimm is renting it for prying eyes. Grimm has the whole other side of his 2 story submarine for his renters to have a beautiful ocean view. The homes are extremely close together - closer than most CA homes. Costner is a longtime owner and used his home as quiet place to edit Dances and to enjoy beach time with his older children when they were growing up. They lived at that time in family neighborhood in a home they were remodeling - before that a 2 bedroom tiny Pasadena home while he sunk every penny he had in Dances. He is nice down to earth regular guy.

Carly (anonymous profile)
July 20, 2013 at 10:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Investment Banker Richard "the dick" Grimm should not clog up our court system with his stuff. I hope I get called for jury duty on this one!

loganwc (anonymous profile)
July 22, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hello! The case has been decided in the Coistners' favor..! This story is way out of date.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 22, 2013 at 1:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Those beach houses really are close together. I'd want a little privacy too. The Costner house is quite amazing. Not huge by any means but gorgeous. The "periscope" window in the back bedroom is fun. I feel lucky to have had to the chance to walk through this house several years ago.

Ryansbca (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2013 at 2:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Where do they keep the silver ?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2013 at 2:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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