CLEAR LAKE RIVIERA COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION v. CRAMER
(2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 459
Ewing & Associates, Mike Ewing for Defendants and Appellants.
Abbey, Weitzenberg, Warren & Emery, Lewis R. Warren and Rachel K. Nunes for Plaintiff and Respondent. [182 Cal.App.4th 461]
Plaintiff Clear Lake Riviera Community Association (Association)
regulates new construction within a common interest development.
Defendants Robert and Catherine Cramer (the Cramers) purchased a lot
within the development and drew up plans to build a house. In approving
their plans, the Association committee with responsibility for plan
review applied an Association guideline that limited the height of homes
within the development. Because the Cramers' home was located on a
sloping lot, compliance with the height guideline depended not only on
the height of the structure itself but also its location on the lot.
During construction, it was called to the attention of defendant Robert
Cramer (Cramer) that the location he selected for the home would result
in a violation of the height guideline, but he disregarded the warnings.
When the resulting home exceeded the height guideline by nine feet, the
Association filed suit to abate the violation. Finding the Cramers
knowingly violated the height guideline, the trial court ordered them to
bring their home into compliance. They contend the height regulation
was unenforceable because the Association failed to prove it had been
properly adopted and the trial court abused its discretion in awarding
injunctive relief rather than damages. We affirm.
The Association is a nonprofit corporation organized under the
Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (Civ. Code, § 1350 et
seq.) to manage Clear Lake Riviera (Riviera), a common interest
development located in Lake County. In 1992, the Association recorded an
amended declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions
(declaration) governing Riviera. Among other measures, the declaration
established an Architectural Control and Planning Committee (committee),
consisting of three members appointed by the board of directors of the
Association (Board). The committee was charged with reviewing the plans
for any improvements contemplated within Riviera to ensure they complied
with the requirements of the declaration and were "in harmony with the
general surroundings of such lot or with the adjacent buildings or
structures." In addition, the committee was empowered to enact height
restrictions for buildings within Riviera, as well as other restrictions
on the size and appearance of Riviera construction. The declaration
stated that, once plans had been approved by the committee, "[a]ctual [182 Cal.App.4th 463] construction of any improvements . . . must be in strict conformity with said plans."
The committee maintained a set of guidelines that was given to persons
who planned to build in Riviera, along with a copy of the Association
bylaws and a checklist for application processing. The guidelines
described the process of plan approval and contained various substantive
regulations governing new construction. Among the guidelines was one
limiting the height of structures to a maximum of 17 feet above street
level or the "control point" of the lot. For a sloping lot, the control
point was the elevation at the center of the lot. Although there was no
evidence when and how this guideline was enacted, it had been applied by
the committee since at least 1995.
In March 2005, the Cramers submitted to the committee plans for a home
they hoped to construct in Riviera. Rather than retain a general
contractor, Cramer intended to act as his own builder. The Cramers'
plans were approved by the committee in April. Beneath the approval
stamp on each page of the plans, the committee had printed, "structure
height not to exceed 17 feet from control point of lot." Cramer was
aware of the notation and knew the Association's guidelines imposed the
height restriction. In a plot plan submitted with his application and
approved by the committee, Cramer had placed an asterisk in the middle
of the lot map and written "Control Point" and "+17" next to the
The evidence was in dispute at trial regarding the exact information and
warnings given to Cramer about his compliance with the height
restriction. A member of the committee, Curtis Winchester, testified he
had discussed lot setbacks and application of the Association's height
restriction with Cramer even before his plans were submitted to the
committee. Winchester explained to Cramer that he and the committee
would have to agree on the location of the lot's control point before
the application could be approved and a height variance was unlikely
because there were many homes within Riviera on similar upslope lots
that complied with the height restriction. Winchester told Cramer it
would be necessary to remove a substantial amount of soil from the lot
to meet the height restriction, given the particular house design the
Cramers had chosen, and Cramer agreed to do the necessary grading of the
Cramer acknowledged he was aware of the height guideline, but he
testified he was confused about the concept of "control point" and its [182 Cal.App.4th 464]
measurement and had no knowledge or experience in determining the
elevation of buildings. He never personally did the measurements
necessary to determine how high his house was. Cramer said he relied on
his grading contractor to determine compliance with the height
requirement and, in any event, could not have placed the home's
foundation any lower because the grading contractor ran into rock that
prevented further excavation. fn. 1
In June or early July 2005, after Cramer had completed grading and
installed the wooden forms for his foundation, the committee met with
him and two persons working with him to discuss application of the
height restriction. The meeting occurred as a result of the complaint
of a neighboring homeowner who was concerned from the location of the
Cramers' foundation forms that the resulting house would be too tall.
Winchester testified the committee told Cramer at the meeting that if he
chose to build at the location of his foundation forms, the planned
house would have to be altered considerably to meet height requirements,
and they recommended further grading to lower the foundation. At the
close of the meeting, Winchester testified, Cramer was noncommittal, but
he did not indicate any reservations about complying with the height
Cramer and one of his contractors disputed this account of the meeting.
According to these witnesses, the committee dismissed the neighbor's
complaint and told Cramer there was no problem with his construction. As
a result of the committee's apparent approval, Cramer testified, he
decided soon after to pour the foundation concrete. Cramer denied ever
being warned by a committee member prior to the pouring of his
foundation that the house would be too high.
In mid-July, the committee sent the Cramers a notice stating that their
house appeared to depart from the approved plans and noting the
completed building would violate the height restriction in the
guidelines. The form requested the Cramers to notify the committee if
they could not comply, but they did not do so. The committee sent a
similar form in September, after the foundation was poured but before
the walls were erected.
It was undisputed that when the Cramers' house was finished, it differed
significantly from the house depicted in the approved plans, with one
wall [182 Cal.App.4th 465] being considerably higher and more
massive than shown on the plans. The house exceeded the 17-foot height
restriction by nine feet and impinged severely on the views of at least
two neighboring homes. In November, after the home was complete, the
Cramers unsuccessfully requested a variance from the committee that
would have ratified their violation of the height restriction.
In June 2006, the Association filed an action against the Cramers
seeking a declaration they were in violation of the guidelines and the
approved construction plans, an injunction requiring compliance, and
monetary damages. Following a bench trial, the court found for the
Association in a statement of decision. The court rejected the Cramers'
various arguments that the height restriction was invalid or
unenforceable, found the Cramers' home to be nine feet higher than
permitted under the guidelines, and concluded Cramer knowingly built the
home in violation of the height guideline. Finding the Cramers' home
had caused irreparable injury to neighboring homeowners, the court
ordered them to bring it into compliance with the guidelines.
 "Common interest" developments, such as Riviera, "have become a widely accepted form of real property ownership." (Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Assn. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 361,
370.) "Ordinarily, such ownership also entails mandatory membership in
an owners association, which, through an elected board of directors, is
empowered to enforce any use restrictions contained in the project's
declaration or master deed and to enact new rules governing the use and
occupancy of property within the project." (Id. at p. 373.) "Use
restrictions are an inherent part of any common interest development and
are crucial to the stable, planned environment of any shared ownership
arrangement." (Id. at p. 372.) Use restrictions contained in a
recorded declaration are afforded a "presumption of validity" and are
enforced unless found unreasonable under a deferential standard. (Id.
at p. 383.) While use restrictions outside the declaration are not
afforded the same presumption of validity, they are nonetheless enforced
unless they fail a "straight reasonableness test." (Dolan-King v. Rancho Santa Fe Assn. (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 965, 977 (Dolan-King).)
A. The Validity of the Height Guideline
The Cramers do not challenge the trial court's conclusion their home
violated the Association's construction guidelines, nor do they contend
the height guideline is unreasonable. Rather, they contend "the evidence
was [182 Cal.App.4th 466] insufficient to support the conclusion that there was a duly adopted and enforceable height restriction."
1. Adoption of the Height Guideline
The Cramers' primary validity argument is that "[t]here was no showing
whatsoever by plaintiff that the [guidelines] were ever adopted by a duly constituted [committee]."
The trial court held that the height guideline was valid and
enforceable, a finding that necessarily includes the conclusion the
guideline was properly enacted under the Association's rules. We must
uphold the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by
substantial evidence. (In re Charlisse C. (2008) 45 Cal.4th 145, 159.)
The limited testimony at trial addressing the guidelines demonstrated
they were available in printed form at the time the Cramers sought to
build, were distributed to all who planned to build in Riviera, were
followed by the committee throughout the time in question in evaluating
applications, and were believed by committee members to constitute
enforceable regulations governing construction at Riviera. fn. 2
There was no evidence when and how the height guideline was enacted,
but Mr. Winchester testified it had been applied by the committee since
at least 1995.
 While circumstantial, the foregoing provides substantial evidence
supporting a finding the height guideline was validly adopted. (See People v. Lenix (2008) 44 Cal.4th 602,
627 ["unlike direct evidence, circumstantial evidence does not directly
prove the fact in question. Instead, circumstantial evidence may
support a logical conclusion that the disputed fact is true"].) The
Association's amended declaration was adopted in 1992. Three years
later, the committee was enforcing the height guideline. It is a
permissible inference from this evidence that the guideline had been
properly adopted, since the application of the guideline likely would
have encountered resistance had it not been properly adopted. Further
support for proper adoption is found in the height guideline's long
history of enforcement since that time and the ease with which the
Association or the [182 Cal.App.4th 467] committee could have
repealed the guideline if it had become disfavored by the members or if
there were concerns about the propriety of its adoption.
It is true, as the Cramers contend, there was no direct evidence of the
guideline's adoption. A witness provided by the Association in response
to a trial subpoena testified he could not locate any documents
reflecting "the result of any vote of the members of the committee . . .
on any rule or regulation involving height." That the Association was
unable to locate a document reflecting the adoption of the guidelines,
however, does not necessarily support a finding they were not properly
adopted. As one committee member testified, the committee operated
relatively informally. It did not always keep minutes, and the minutes
it kept were not rigorous. Further, the height regulation had been
enacted more than 10 years before the trial. In the absence of testimony
about the Association's document retention policy, it would not be
surprising if documents reflecting adoption of the height guideline had
not been retained over that time. Indeed, no written records were
produced dating from the era of the guideline's adoption. Under these
circumstances, the absence of records regarding the adoption of the
guideline does not outweigh the substantial circumstantial evidence
supporting its proper adoption.
Accordingly, the Cramers' argument that there was insufficient evidence
of proper adoption of the height guideline reduces to the claim the
Association was required to prove proper adoption by direct evidence, i.e., by a written record reflecting the formal vote of the committee to adopt the regulation, rather than by circumstantial evidence. The Cramers, however, present no persuasive argument to support such a conclusion.
It is a truism of the law that facts can be proven by circumstantial as well as direct evidence. (Ortega v. Kmart Corp. (2001) 26 Cal.4th 1200,
1210.) The Cramers provide no argument that would differentiate the
issue of proper adoption from any other fact in this regard. Indeed,
none of the decisions reviewing an action to enforce a common interest
development regulation holds the association is required to provide
direct evidence that a regulation was properly adopted to prevail.
(E.g., Pacific Hills Homeowners Assn. v. Prun (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 1557, 1566; Rancho Santa Fe Assn. v. Dolan-King (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 28, 39; Cohen v. Kite Hill Community Assn. (1983) 142 Cal.App.3d 642,
646, 648.) On the contrary, those decisions never address the
procedural history of the regulations, and there is no indication in any
of them the association provided, or was required to provide, direct
evidence the regulation had been properly adopted. In Villa De Las Palmas Homeowners Assn. v. Terifaj (2004) 33 Cal.4th 73, in which the association originally attempted [182 Cal.App.4th 468] to enforce such a regulation, the Supreme Court expressly noted there was no evidence regarding the date of its adoption. (Id.
at p. 80.) Although the regulation was ultimately not enforced, the
court did not indicate the regulation would have been found
unenforceable merely for the lack of direct evidence about its genesis.
 The closest arguable authority for such an evidentiary requirement is Ironwood Owners Assn. IX v. Solomon (1986) 178 Cal.App.3d 766,
which states, "When a homeowners' association seeks to enforce the
provisions of its CCRs to compel an act by one of its member owners, it
is incumbent upon it to show that it has followed its own standards and
procedures prior to pursuing such a remedy, that those procedures were
fair and reasonable and that its substantive decision was made in good
faith, and is reasonable, not arbitrary or capricious." (Id. at p. 772.) In holding an association must show its standards and procedures were followed, however, Ironwood
was not referring to proof that proper procedures were used for
adoption of the guideline. Rather, the "standards and procedures"
referred to by Ironwood were the internal procedures for enforcement of the restrictions, rather than their adoption. (See Pacific Hills Homeowners Assn. v. Prun, supra, 160 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1566--1567.)
The Cramers cite Dolan-King for the proposition that regulations
adopted by an association are not afforded a presumption of
reasonableness, but this portion of Dolan-King is concerned with the substantive reasonableness of regulations, not their procedural validity. (Dolan-King, supra,
81 Cal.App.4th at p. 977.) In any event, there was no need for a
presumption of reasonableness here. As discussed above, the trial court
was entitled to infer proper adoption from the circumstantial evidence
of long enforcement provided by the association. Further, there was no
suggestion in Dolan-King that the association was required to
provide direct evidence its existing regulations had been properly
adopted, and there is no indication in the decision such evidence was
provided. (Id. at pp. 977--979.)
 Accordingly, we find no legal support for the Cramers' claim that a
common interest association is required to provide direct, rather than
circumstantial evidence that its use restrictions were properly adopted
in an action to enforce the restrictions.
In arguing the guideline was invalid, the Cramers also cite a resolution
passed by the Board in 2000 that rescinded "each and every former
Policy & Procedure, Rule & Regulation, and Resolution put into
effect prior to January 1, 2000." Because this document was introduced
without any foundational testimony, the Board's intent in passing it is
unclear. The text of the resolution, however, suggests it was intended
to repeal enactments of the [182 Cal.App.4th 469] Board itself,
rather than those of the committee. Nor does the resolution literally
apply to the height restriction at issue here. It does not purport to
repeal "guidelines," but only policies, procedures, rules, regulations,
and resolutions. Further, regardless of the intent of the Board
resolution, there was sufficient time between years 2000 and 2005 during
which the committee could have readopted the guidelines, assuming they
were ever repealed. Substantial evidence therefore supported the trial
court's conclusion that the 2000 resolution did not preclude enforcement
of the guidelines.
2. Application of Civil Code section 1357.100 et seq.
 Civil Code section 1357.100 et seq. establishes procedural
requirements for the adoption of the "operating rules" of a common
interest development association. (Civ. Code, §§ 1357.110, subd. (a),
1357.130, 1357.140.) The Cramers contend the height guideline is an
operating rule as so defined and was not adopted in accordance with the
procedures specified by statute.
We need not decide whether the height guideline is an operating rule.
Pursuant to Civil Code section 1357.150, subdivisions (a) and (b), the
requirements of these sections apply only "to a rule change commenced on
or after January 1, 2004" and do not affect "the validity of a rule
change commenced before January 1, 2004." Winchester testified he had
been involved with the committee since 1995 and the height restriction
had been in effect throughout that time. While the copy of the
guidelines in the record bears notations indicating changes had been
made around April 2005, the height restriction was not changed by these
amendments. Because there was no evidence the height guideline was
enacted by a rule change initiated after 2003, it was not subject to
section 1357.100 et seq.
3. The Composition of the Committee
The Cramers also dispute the trial court's finding the committee "was a
valid and functioning committee pursuant to and within the scope of the
Declaration." The Cramers do not argue the committee failed to hold
meetings or otherwise perform its functions, or its actions were
arbitrary and not in accord with the governing documents of the
Association. Rather, their argument is founded on the testimony of
Winchester that, at the time the Cramers' plans were considered, the
committee had "four or five" members and, while the committee met every
week, not every member attended every meeting. The Cramers also point to
evidence indicating the "official" membership of the committee
consisted of three particular persons in 2004, and the Board minutes
disclosed no action to appoint any other person to the committee. Yet
two other persons, Robert Frane and Russell Patterson, purported to act
on behalf of the committee and had substantial involvement with the
Cramers' application. [182 Cal.App.4th 470]
Because this issue was not explored at trial, but appears to have arisen
as a result of a set of documents produced in response to a trial
subpoena, the evidence is not clear on the composition or working of the
committee. When Patterson testified at trial as a member of the
committee, for example, he was never asked on what authority he believed
himself to be a committee member or whether he viewed himself as an
official, voting member. Given the Cramers' failure to make a complete
record on this issue, we are inclined to find the testimony of Patterson
alone to constitute substantial evidence to support a finding that he
was, indeed, a committee member, despite the lack of any documentary
evidence to back his claim.
Yet even if we assume Frane and Patterson were merely volunteers who
assisted the official members of the committee, we would find no basis
to question the trial court's conclusion that the committee was properly
functioning under the terms of the declaration. As the trial court
noted in its statement of decision, there is no dispute the committee
had been in existence for many years, conducted weekly meetings, and
reviewed the planned construction within Riviera, all as required by the
declaration. While there is no provision in the declaration for the
appointment of "pro tem" committee members, neither does it preclude the
Further, the Cramers cite no prejudice from the participation of the two
purportedly unofficial members, who worked with them to bring their
construction plans into compliance with the Association's various rules.
There is no evidence the Cramers' plans were not reviewed and approved
by the three official members of the committee, as required by the
declaration. Nor is there any evidence the committee imposed
requirements on the Cramers' construction that were outside the
guidelines or otherwise unreasonable. On the contrary, the evidence
showed the committee's application of the height guideline was
consistent with its application to similar lots in Riviera, on which
compliant houses had successfully been built. In short, the mere
participation of non-appointed persons in the business of the committee,
under these circumstances, would not invalidate the committee's
The Association contends and the trial court held the Cramers are
estopped from challenging the validity of the height guideline because
they signed a document, required by the Association as a condition of
the plan review process, stating they "agree[d] to" the guidelines.
Because we conclude the Cramers failed to carry their burden of
demonstrating the height guideline is invalid, we need not reach this
issue. [182 Cal.App.4th 471]
B. The Trial Court's Grant of Injunctive Relief
The trial court's judgment finds the Cramers' house is nine feet higher
than allowed, orders them to "abate forthwith the foregoing violation,"
and precludes them "from maintaining any structure on the Subject
Property which violates the CC&Rs." The Cramers argue the trial
court abused its discretion in "ordering [them] to tear down their
house," which, they contend, "was the effect of the mandatory injunction
issued by the court." Instead, they argue, the court should have
The testimony of an expert retained by the Cramers does not support
their claim that they will be required to tear down their house to
comply with the court's order. The expert testified it will be possible
to preserve the house, although it will cost at least $200,000 to do so.
He recommended removing the house from its foundation, moving it off
the lot, lowering the foundation, and remounting the house on the new
foundation. Although it might be necessary to "cut [the house] in half"
to remove it from the construction site, it need not be destroyed.
Nonetheless, although the house need not be torn down, there is no doubt
fixing the problem will be expensive and inconvenient, and its cost may
exceed the amount of economic harm inflicted by the Cramers on the
neighboring properties, at least as measured by the diminution in market
value of those properties.
"Ordinarily, when we review a trial court order granting injunctive
relief, we apply the deferential abuse of discretion standard.
[Citation.] A decision will be reversed for an abuse of discretion only
when it exceeds the bounds of reason or disregards uncontradicted
evidence. [Citation.] The burden rests with the party challenging an
injunction to make a clear showing of abuse." (In re Lugo (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 1522, 1535.)
 We find no abuse of discretion in the trial court's decision to
require compliance with the guidelines rather than award money damages.
In attempting to find a standard against which to judge the trial
court's exercise of discretion, we analogize this case to those
requiring the removal of a structure that encroaches on a property line.
Although the two situations are not identical, they both raise the
possibility that the cost and inconvenience of removal of an existing
structure may be disproportionate to the actual damage caused by it. fn. 3
In evaluating the grant of injunctive relief for encroachment, courts
apply a three-part test known as the "hardship doctrine." (Hirshfield v. Schwartz (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 749, 758--759.) "To [182 Cal.App.4th 472]
deny an injunction [requiring removal of an encroaching structure],
three factors must be present. First, the defendant must be innocent.
That is, his or her encroachment must not be willful or negligent. The
court should consider the parties' conduct to determine who is
responsible for the dispute. Second, unless the rights of the public
would be harmed, the court should grant the injunction if the plaintiff
'will suffer irreparable injury . . . regardless of the injury to
defendant.' Third, the hardship to the defendant from granting the
injunction 'must be greatly disproportionate to the hardship
caused plaintiff by the continuance of the encroachment and this fact
must clearly appear in the evidence and must be proved by the defendant.
. . .' " (Ibid.)
The trial court found the Cramers' violation of the height regulation to
be knowing, rather than innocent. The Cramers argue at length this
conclusion was against the weight of the evidence, contending they
relied on the committee's conclusion at the June/early July meeting that
there would be no violation. As discussed above, the evidence was
conflicting on exactly what Cramer was told about the height of his
house at that meeting. Evaluating the credibility of the witnesses was
the responsibility of the trial court, and it found the Association's
witness to be more credible on this issue. Further, we find substantial
evidence to support the court's finding that the violation was
intentional in the testimony of Winchester, who stated Cramer was told
unequivocally that if he built the house where the foundation forms were
located it would result in a significant violation, the neighbor who
confronted Cramer about the location of his foundation forms, and other
Association witnesses who testified Cramer was fully and timely
instructed about the proper siting of his home. fn. 4
In any event, to defeat an injunction under the hardship doctrine the
defendant must demonstrate the encroachment was neither willful nor negligent. (Hirshfield v. Schwartz, supra,
91 Cal.App.4th at p. 759.) There is little question, under even the
most generous interpretation of the evidence, the Cramers' violation was
negligent. Cramer did not dispute he was aware of the height
restriction. He had personally marked the control point and the height
restriction on a map of his lot. As the effective general contractor,
Cramer was responsible for ensuring his home complied with the height
restriction. Yet he testified he never bothered to learn how building
height was measured under the guidelines and never, despite the
controversy his home caused, personally measured the projected height of
his home. In fact, Cramer [182 Cal.App.4th 473] presented no
evidence he or his contractors had ever measured the elevation of the
home prior to pouring the foundation. Further, no one involved with
construction of the home appears to have had responsibility for
compliance with the height guideline. Cramer contended the task had been
delegated to the grading contractor, but that contractor denied
responsibility and said he had been instructed by Cramer on the location
of the home. The only conclusion to be drawn from the evidence was that
Cramer made no effort to comply with the height guideline, even though
he was well aware of the restriction and his neighbors had raised the
issue prior to the pouring of the foundation. fn. 5 In light of this clear evidence of carelessness, there is no basis for finding the height violation to have been innocent.
The trial court's finding of irreparable harm was also supported by
substantial evidence. Two neighbors testified at trial that their prior
unobstructed views had been blocked by the Cramers' home, resulting not
only in a diminution in value of their homes but also a substantial loss
of their enjoyment in them. Where previously the neighbors were able to
enjoy views of the nearby lake, they now saw only the walls of the
Cramers' home. For both neighbors, this was compounded by a loss of
privacy, since the Cramers' home looked onto theirs. There was a further
incommensurable risk in refusing injunctive enforcement of the height
violation. If the Cramers were permitted to use the fait accompli of
their home's completion to avoid enforcement of the height guideline,
the Association would effectively lose the ability to enforce any of its
guidelines. Members could build their homes in any manner they pleased,
arguing afterward in response to an action to enforce the guidelines
that compliance would be unreasonably expensive.
Finally, there was no evidence the cost of correcting the violation
would be grossly disproportionate to the hardship caused to the
Association. Although there was no estimate of the total diminution in
value caused to neighboring homes by the Cramers' violation, one
neighbor testified his home's value had been diminished by more than
$75,000. Even if that was the only economic damage, the $200,000
required to correct the Cramers' violation would not be grossly
disproportionate to the loss. As noted above, however, there was also
diminution in value to at least one other home, along with damage that
is more difficult to quantify. The trial court did not abuse its
discretion in directing the Cramers to bring their home into compliance.
[182 Cal.App.4th 474]
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Dondero, J., and Banke, J., concurred.
Retired judge of the Lake Superior Court, assigned by the Chief Justice
pursuant to article VI, section 6 of the California Constitution.
The grading contractor directly contradicted this testimony. He denied
being responsible for the elevation decision, testifying that Cramer
instructed him regarding the depth to grade the hillside, and said his
grading was never impaired by rock underlying the soil.
The Cramers claim the introduction of the guidelines as an exhibit at
trial was without foundation because they came in through Russell
Patterson, who they contend was not an official member of the committee.
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the
guidelines because Patterson, whatever his status, was personally very
familiar with the activities of the committee.
FN 3. As authority, the Cramers rely largely on Sharon v. Sharon (1888) 75 Cal. 1, a decision reviewing a trial court's award of temporary alimony. We find the circumstances of Sharon
sufficiently different from those of the present situation that it
provides little clear guidance in reviewing the trial court's exercise
The Cramers object the trial court did not specifically address in its
statement of decision what Cramer was told at the June/early July
meeting. In fact, the statement of decision notes that "Mr. Winchester
again covered the matter [of the excessive height of the building] with
Mr. Cramer and his associates." Regardless of what was said at the
meeting, however, there was substantial evidence to support a finding
that Cramer's violation of the height guideline was not innocent.
This carelessness is further confirmed by the scope of the violation.
The Cramers' home did not miss the guideline by a trivial amount, as one
might expect if they made a good faith effort to comply. It is nine feet over the limit.