By Velena Jones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – An unexpected letter from the city of Sacramento brought an unwanted surprise for homeowners Ray and Kathy Hillier in their South Land Park neighborhood.

“It ticked me off really,” Ray said.

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The couple in their 80s has lived here for more than four decades. Their home backs up to the path where the new Del Rio Trail will be paved in the near future. In a letter received Tuesday, the city claims the couple’s backyard is sticking out twenty-one feet over the property line.

“It’s a lot of work to take all this down and they think he can do this by himself and he can’t,” Kathy said.

The letter stated the homeowners would have to remove their fence, shed, and other items filling the space by July 31.

“It’s not going to happen. Are they going to build the trail right away? I have no idea. We weren’t warned about this ever,” explained Kathy.

They’re not the only ones.

A number of neighbors have received the same letter, including Virgil Pierini. He says two of his properties have fences that stick out too far, according to the city. Pierini said both will have to be torn down to make room for the pedestrian and bike path that will span from the Sacramento River Parkway to Freeport Shores Bike trail.

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“I think it’s just a chicken thing to all of a sudden boom! We were told other encroachments were going to be grandfathered in,” explained Pierini.

In a statement, city officials told CBS13 they are hoping to work with residents on the matter.

“The city has enjoyed a cooperative relationship with the community that has been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition. The city will continue that relationship and work cooperatively with homeowners to see that the encroachments are removed and find solutions that allow the trail to move forward and benefit the entire community,” said city representative Jesse Gothan.

The trail project passed in 2019, leaving neighbors questioning the city’s two-month deadline to make major makeovers with homeowners fronting the cost.

“Why didn’t they say ‘Okay, you have a year to get this done?’ I think they stretched it out so if anybody wanted to fight it they don’t have much time,” explained Pierini.

According to the city, if someone believes they have a legal right to occupy the area of encroachment, they can send the easement or other document granting such right to the Public Works for review.

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Some neighbors have plans to form a group to try to dispute the city’s request. In the letter sent to residents, the city states if they do not comply by their deadline, the city will take legal action to remove the encroachments at the homeowner’s expense.

Velena Jones