Ellen Psychas and husband Bing Yee wanted their kids to play outdoors more and thought a tree house in their back yard was a great idea. They let their neighbors know, checked with city transportation officials and the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and began building.
The little castle-themed tree fort for their 3-and-5-year-old daughters came out very cute, painted to match the house. The neighbors were not happy: the tree fort reached 20 inches over a public alley – and that was too much.
When the complaints started coming in, Psychas and Yee reminded their neighbors that they handed out pamphlets about building the tree fort before the structure went up.
Complaints were filed, neighbors took sides and some in the community were not on talking terms with Psychas and Yee. Finally, the fate of the tree fort was placed in the hands of a District committee on January 28th.
During the hour-long hearing, three neighbors and a neighborhood advisory commissioner testified against the tree fort to the city’s public space committee. The committee voted 4-0, with one abstaining vote, against the tree fort. The 20-inch encroachment over the public alley, which Psychas and Yee chose to do in order to not damage the 100-year-old oak, was ruled against.
The parents, who spent over $300 dollars on “eco-friendly tree-building hardware” are not happy. Psychas told The Washington Post “the neighbors have not won. The treehouse will remain until the children grow up and they’re tired of it.”
Multiple people have offered to help shift the tree fort 20 inches away from the alley, making it permissible, but Psychas wants to wait for warmer weather to avoid damaging the tree.
It seems even kid’s fun needs to be regulated by Washington DC.