Good Fences Make Good Neighbors


“Somewhere in Santa Barbara?”

Forbes magazine reported that in 2010 Oracle’s Larry Ellison sued his neighbors, whose trees were blocking his view of San Francisco Bay. The neighbors tried to obtain landmark status for the trees. Ellison hired a Tree Attorney and reportedly offered to buy their house. They settled out of court.

David Geffen is under fire from his neighbors for renovations to his 5th Avenue penthouse. 18 neighbors have filed complaints against Geffen some of which he’s settled.

Hedge funder Larry Robbins turned three lots behinds his New Jersey mansion into a 10,000 square foot hockey rink adding a small apartment thinking that would make it a legal residence. The neighbors challenges were dismissed and the arena still stands.

Investor Ira Rennert built a 29 bedroom 100,000 square foot house in the Hamptons and continues to stoke tensions with the neighbors by landing his helicopter on the property.

George Lucas neighbors have been battling him for decades over any expansions to his film studio. As a result he now plans to build 224 low income housing units in one of the more expensive areas of the country. Neighbors say he’s vindictive, he claims altruism. Forbes magazine suggests that un-neighborly behavior is surprisingly common among the ten figure set.

The most notable use of the quote in English Literature belongs to Robert Frost who used the line in his poem “Mending Wall.”This quote seems to be contradictory in nature. How can neighbors come together if they are divided by fences? Benjamin Franklin is known to have said, “Love thy neighbor, yet don’t pull down your hedge.” Given how many different cultures have versions of this proverb, it represents a very common sentiment among neighbors everywhere.