By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4) - A resident of Denver's Cherry Creek North neighborhood has filed a lawsuit against his neighbor saying he no longer can use his garage due to the way his neighbor parks.
"It's ridiculous that I have to go to the extreme of filing a lawsuit," said Evan Neubeiser. "Neighbors should be able to work this stuff out".
Neubeiser's lawsuit says the problems began last fall when his neighbor, Ryan Haley, decided he no longer wanted to park his SUV on the streets after he said it was sideswiped, broken into, and he had received street sweeping tickets. So he began parking the vehicle behind his garage, in the alley.
"That's my property and I should be able to use it," Haley told CBS4.
But when Haley parks on his property in the alley, Neubeiser is essentially unable to maneuver his SUV into or out of his garage.
"If our car is in the garage and he is parked there, we can't get out of our garage," said Neubeiser.
He said he tried leaving notes for Haley and tried talking to him but was met with silence.
Neubeiser said he contacted multiple city agencies for assistance but got nowhere. He appealed to Haley to engage in mediation, but Haley refused, leading to the lawsuit.
"Put your car in the garage or put it on the street like the rest of us do, but don't do something that prevents us from using our garage," said Neubeiser. "We have one goal -- we just want to be able to use our garage -- that's it."
But when contacted by CBS4, Haley was adamant that he would park in the manner he wanted on his property, regardless of the consequences for his neighbor.
"It's all mine," Haley said of the property behind his garage. "It's a licensed, registered car and the City and County of Denver said I could park there -- end of story -- that's all there is to it".
Haley said he was not interested in taking part in mediation. If he had, he would likely have ended up in a room with Steve Charbonneau, a professional mediator who has worked for the City of Denver for years.
Charbonneau and his company mediate hundreds of neighborhood disputes every year ranging from barking dog complaints to parking arguments to loud kids.
"I think we see neighbors fight about everything," said Charbonneau.
He said last year alone his mediation company dealt with 225 barking dog spats in Denver.
Charbonneau said the problem is neighbors don't talk to each other like in years past. So when a problem develops, their first interaction is an argument. They have no foundation for talking things out. And he said society is less civil these days.
"It's become okay to be angry, it's become okay to be insensitive, it's okay to defend my rights regardless of their impact on you."
He predicted that if Haley and Neubeiser had agreed to mediation, he could have helped them work out their differences in less than two hours.
"They'll spend a lot of money on a lawsuit and when it's over, they'll both be poor."
He said of the neighbors who agree to mediation, about 90 percent leave the mediation session with a written agreement.
It's not looking that way in Cherry Creek North where Haley calls his neighbor a "bully" and "ridiculous" and "childish."
Neubeiser says simply, "We can't function like this."
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