Oscar winners Joel Coen and Frances McDormand have filed suit against their Bolinas neighbors over a disputed property line and the neighbors' apparent refusal to sign an agreement forged about a historic greenbelt that passes between their two properties.
As some of you may know, half of the filmmaking team that made Fargo and O, Brother, Where Art Thou? and his wife of 35 years, actress Frances McDormand, have had a home in Bolinas since 2005 — and McDormand is occasionally spotted at the Ferry Building farmers' market, and elsewhere around San Francisco. Apparently there's been a back-and-forth tiff with their neighbors, retired dentist Randolph Rush and his wife Donna, going back nearly as long, to 2007. As the Marin Independent Journal reports, the Rushes commissioned a survey of their property in 2007 that put their property line 10 feet north of the greenbelt, and cutting into the Coen/McDormand driveway. There was no immediate fight over the issue, but then the Coen-McDormands then had their own survey done some years later that affirmed their original property line, which included the greenbelt.
Fast forward to 2018, and the two couples landed in mediation, where they reportedly hashed out an agreement that gave the Rushes control of the greenbelt, but resolved issues about other encroachments they'd complained about which include some part of the Coen-McDormands' garage.
The Coen-McDormands' legal filing now claims that the Rushes have since begun "landscaping and irrigating the greenbelt without ever finalizing the settlement," and they continue to raise new objections about the property line.
The Rushes' attorney tells the Marin IJ, "Randy and Donna refrained from filing a lawsuit as Coen and McDormond [sic] have done because they wanted to continue to quietly enjoy their home without a big fight in court." The attorney further says that Coen and McDormand have committed "deliberate encroachments" of their own.
The Rushes have lived on their Bolinas property for 45 years.
It's not clear what game is being played here or who's even playing it. In an email signed "Joel and Fran," the Coen-McDormands tell the Marin IJ, "We hope that we can continue a friendly relationship as neighbors for years to come. Our agreement has worked for over a year, and the sooner we finalize it, the sooner this dispute will be behind us for good."
They're asking the court either to recognize their ownership of said greenbelt, or affirm the agreement they made in arbitration — and they're seeking to have their legal costs paid for.