Father who built dream tree house has to fight for new city ordinance to save it

PHOTO: Brian Esola of Folsom, Calif., is asking his City Council to enact a new code that lets him keep up a tree house he built for his four children.Playcourtesy Brian Esola
WATCH Father fights for new ordinance to save tree house

A father who built a dream tree house for his children now has to petition City Hall for an ordinance to save it.

Brian Esola, a father of four, built the two-story tree house at their Folsom, California, home after the family's previous one had to be taken down because the wood became cracked.

In the Esolas' backyard, between two trees, is an elaborate navy blue structure with white trimmings and a red door that contains furniture, school supplies and a small basketball hoop.

The space is meant for his children to "hang out or have sleepovers with their friends," Esola said.

A few months after he finished building the tree house, he received a non-compliance notice after an anonymous report. The notice said he had violated a Folsom municipal code that states "accessory buildings" must be at least 5 feet from property line, 8 feet from the home and no more than 15 feet tall, according to Christine Brainerd, a communications manager for the city.

After hearing he may be forced to remove the treehouse, one of Esola's family friend posted a picture of the tree house on a Facebook page called Folsom Chat. The post received numerous messages of support from neighbors, including from Robert Gaylord, a member of the City Council who offered to help resolve the problem.

Esola pointed out he didn't just build the structure willy-nilly -- he researched it thoroughly before he began building, choosing the proper type of wood, using the write supporting structures and ensuring nearby trees could grow without restriction.

"You could put a car on there and it would perfectly safe," Esola said.

In his research, he did find city ordinances addressing "accessory" structures, which the city defines as "a detached subordinate building, the use of which is incidental to that of the main building on the same lot, or the use of the land," a definition Esola said he didn't believe applied to a tree house.

At a meeting with a city management team, he was offered several options, two of which required fees ranging from $1,500 to $2,000. Instead of spending even more money on keeping the tree house, Esola instead has asked the Council to consider a new code that allows for tree houses. He even offered to be part of a committee to help draft the new ordinance.

Esola said he and his family love living in Folsom, even if they're forced to take down the tree house. He said he planned on attending a City Council meeting tonight to make his case.

"I don’t want to argue," he told ABC News. "I want to win them over."

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