Neighbor sues supervisor candidate over property dispute
May 26, 2016
By KAREN VELIE
Eric Michielssen’s neighbor has filed a lawsuit against him, claiming that Michielssen has repeatedly trespassed and disrespected his property rights. Michielssen is currently challenging San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold for the District 5 seat.
For the second time in less than 10 years, one of Michielssen’s neighbors has accused him and his family of repeatedly trespassing on private property. In addition, the lawsuit alleges Michielssen has interfered with his neighbor John Philbrick’s use of an easement used to access a hay farming operation.
For almost a century, Philbrick’s family has used an easement through a property on Parkhill Road in rural Santa Margarita, according to the lawsuit filed on May 26 by Santa Margarita based attorney Sophia Treder. In 2009, Michielssen, allegedly aware of the easement, purchased the Parkhill Road property.
In a 1923 deed, a “scrivener’s error” places the easement about 65 feet away from the driveway the Philbrick family graded decades ago. Nevertheless, a parcel map filed in 1982 corrects the previous error, according to the lawsuit.
In his claim, Philbrick says Michielssen did not contest the easement until Philbrick caught residents of Michiellssen’s family trespassing repeatedly on his property. Michielssen then asked Philbrick if his family could ride their horses on Philbricks’s land, according to the lawsuit. Philbrick denied Michielssen’s request to access his property.
Shortly afterwards, Michielssen began blocking Philbrick’s access to his easement, the lawsuit says.
Philbrick then hired a licensed surveyor who sent Michielssen a letter in Sept. 2015 saying “that the easement does exist.”
Last month, Philbrick asked Michielssen to stop blocking his easement so that he could move farming equipment up the driveway during hay season, according to an email.
On May 6, Michielssen responded to Philbrick in an email contesting the existence of Philbrick’s alleged easement, according to the email.
Before moving to rural Santa Margarita, Michielssen owned a farm in Los Osos. In 2007, Michael Morosin, a Los Osos neighbor of Michielssen’s, sued him over an issue with an easement and for repeatedly trespassing on Morosin’s property, according to the suit.
In his lawsuit, Morosin accuses Michielssen of housing farmworkers in several unpermitted structures, running an unpermitted horse boarding operation and inviting or permitting dozens of his workers and customers to trespass on Morosin’s property.
“Defendants have invited or permitted their many equestrian invitees to trespass, on horseback, onto plaintiff’s property in order to access trails and views on both plaintiff’s property and neighboring properties, subjecting plaintiff to both constant trespass and the physical damage caused by plaintiff’s trespassing horses and their riders,” according to Morosin’s 2007 suit against Michielssen.
In that case, Michielssen quickly sold the Los Osos property and the issues with trespassing stopped, Morosin said.
Michielssen did not return requests for comment.
Philbrick is seeking a quiet title ruling on the easement, a judgement barring Michielssen and his family from trespassing on Philbrick’s property, attorney’s fees, court costs and further relief, according to the May 26 lawsuit.