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Rye v. Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal Company, Inc.

California Court of Appeal, Third District

December 16, 2013

Brian RYE, Plaintiff, Cross-defendant and Respondent,
v.
TAHOE TRUCKEE SIERRA DISPOSAL COMPANY, INC., Defendant, Cross-complainant and Appellant; Dawn C. Rye, Cross-defendant and Respondent.

As Modified on Denial of Rehearing January 10, 2014

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Placer County, Charles Wachob, Judge (Super. Ct. No. SCV22362). Affirmed.

COUNSEL

Sinclair Law Office, Sinclair Wilson Baldo & Chamberlain and Robert F. Sinclair for Defendant, Cross-complainant and Appellant.

Porter Simon, Professional Corporation and Louis A. Basile for Plaintiff, Cross-defendants and Respondents.

THE COURT:

BLEASE, J.

This is a tale of intertwined claims of right by the plaintiffs to the use of property at Kings Beach, Lake Tahoe, for the parking of garbage trucks and the storage of garbage bins. One claim is predicated on an easement, the other on a lease. The property subject to the easement and lease is referred to as a portion of " Parcel One." The property, owned by plaintiffs Brian and Dawn Rye (the Ryes), is the subject of a complaint and cross-complaint to determine the rights of the parties to its use. The complaint by Brian Rye, based on the easement, seeks to bar defendant Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal Company, Inc. (Tahoe Truckee) from the use of the area subject to the easement beyond its historic uses. The cross-complaint by Tahoe Truckee against the Ryes claims the right to use all of the subject property, as the need arises, either by reliance on the easement or the lease.[1] The lease and the easement oddly concern the use of the same piece of property for the same purposes. If the lease is valid, there is no need to rely on the easement since the rights conferred by it are encompassed within the lease.

Defendant Tahoe Truckee operates a garbage disposal business and has need of the area of the property subject to the easement or lease for the use of its garbage trucks and the storage of its garbage bins. The easement derives from a reservation in a 1981 recorded deed transferring the servient tenement to the Ryes' predecessors. The unrecorded lease derives from a purported 1982 agreement between the Shaffers and Tahoe Truckee. The parties disagree whether Tahoe Truckee may expand its parking and storage within the area subject to the easement beyond its historic uses. They necessarily disagree whether the lease was invalid or abandoned.

The property is described on a survey map as subject to an " easement for parking, ingress, egress, utilities and storage in favor of" Kings Beach Disposal Company, Inc. (Kings Beach) doing business as Tahoe Truckee. [2] (Appendix A, post, p. 14.) The map shows a paved area and a dirt area. The reservation in the grant deed describes an easement over the property for " ingress, egress, parking, storage, [and] utilities...." [3] A shaded area on a drawing attached to the grant deed shows the contested area of Parcel One. (Appendix B, post, p. 15.)

A substantially identical area to the drawing of a portion of Parcel One is shown on an exhibit to an unrecorded, 1982, 99-year lease from the Shaffers to Kings Beach (Tahoe Truckee) for use " in conjunction with its solid waste disposal business, including the storage of empty garbage bins." The terms of the lease (exhibit 57) parallel the area and purpose of the easement. Neither Tahoe Truckee nor the owners of Parcel One sought to enforce the lease in the 22 years from its inception until its sale to the Ryes. The trial court ruled that, assuming the validity of the lease, it had been abandoned because " Tahoe City Disposal Company [ (Tahoe Truckee) ] clearly disregarded the lease as soon as it was signed." " [A]lthough the lease was valid when formed, the lease was completely ignored and abandoned."

The trial court also ruled that the terms of the written easement were not exclusive. It limited the defendant to the historic use of the paved area and 10 feet beyond the paved area. It issued an injunction barring Tahoe Truckee from expanding its use beyond this area. We agree.

We shall affirm the judgment limiting the defendant to the historic uses of the easement.

FACTS

The case was tried to the court and the facts are taken mainly from the trial court's statement of decision.

A. The Easement

The defendant, Tahoe Truckee, is the owner of a recorded easement over a portion of Parcel One at Kings Beach, California for the use by its garbage trucks and the storage of its garbage bins.

Originally Kings Beach owned two adjoining parcels, Parcel One and parcel 27. The Shaffers owned two other lots, including parcel 26, adjacent to Parcel One. In 1980 the Shaffers sold their 50 percent interest in Kings Beach to Tahoe City Disposal Company, Inc. (Tahoe Truckee). In the same year the Shaffers agreed to a land swap whereby they transferred parcel 26 to Kings Beach in exchange for the western portion of Parcel One owned by Kings Beach. In 1981 the Shaffers performed their part of the agreement but Kings Beach was unable to convey the western portion Parcel One to the Shaffers. " One result of the transaction was that Kings Beach ... then owned Parcels 26 and 27, both of which were adjacent to Parcel One. As part of the transaction, Kings Beach ... desired to maintain an easement from Parcels 26 and 27 over Parcel One." Accordingly, when Kings Beach transferred Parcel One by deed to the Shaffers on June 11, 1981, the deed " RESERV[ED] THEREFROM an easement for ...


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