Neighbor's trash dump
The situation is fairly complex so I'm going to try to stick to a few basic facts that I think are relevant.
I live on a steep hill. The street runs straight up the hill, so all the lots on the street have yards that would naturally slope from side to side. In the back, my yard is level, and is bordered by a steep slope running up to my neighbor's back yard, which is also level.
When I bought my house 5 years ago, a large part of this backyard slope was covered with what appeared to be a leaf and yard waste pile, held in place by a "wall" made of stacked slabs of scrap concrete (e.g. what you would have if you tore up a sidewalk or concrete driveway). The wall was approximately on the property line, which is about halfway up the slope. The wall acted as a dam to the material on the slope.
This spring, the "wall" collapsed after a heavy rain, causing concrete blocks, leaves, and trash to slide into my yard. Yes, trash: under the leaves there were bottles, cans, auto batteries, pretty much everything you would associate with typical household waste. A big of digging revealed that the trash ran all the way up to the top of the slope.
My neighbor's first response was to offer to clean up whatever trash had crossed the property line into my yard. I suggested he really should clean up all the trash, since I'm sure it's not legal to operate a dump in your back yard. He resisted, and I decided to make his life easier by offering to put a dumpster in my yard, at my expense. He agreed. So I got the dumpster (15 yards, which seemed big enough based on my estimation of the quantity of trash). After a week of waiting for him to start cleaning (he offered to start "tomorrow" about 5 times), I figured I'd put in a few hours to get the job started myself. At this point, I discovered that my original estimate of the quantity of trash was vastly underestimated. Moreover, after digging through the layers of standard household trash, which more than filled the dumpster, I found a layer of concrete blocks and asphalt. At this point I confronted my neighbor again and pointed out that there was much more trash than originally estimated, and that it looked like a job that would take a small crew of strong workers several days at least. (Did I mention my neighbor is 70 years old?) I asseted again that it was his responsibility to clean up the mess, since it was not legal. At this point, he said that most (??!!!) of the trash was there when he bought his house (40 years ago) and thus not his fault. Yes, he had thrown a few bottles, cans, tires, broken windowpanes and the odd lawnmover or three down the hill over the years (I guess since it was already a dump, that makes it OK??) But he would borrow his son's truck and help clean it up anyway...
I should mention that the entire slope is very visible from my windows and back yard, but it is not at all visible from my neighbor's house or yard. Hence I have a strong motivation in getting my neighbor's part of the slope cleaned up, but he has none at all.
Since that time I have filled another 15 yard dumpster and there is no end in sight. My neighbor has come by twice with his pickup and worked maybe 1 hour each time. Below the trash there is at least 2 feet of asphalt chunks and broken concrete. My theory of the trash dump origins (my neighbor acts suspiciously oblivious and says he knows nothing about it) is that 40 years ago, the previous house on that site was razed to the ground, and some of the debris (perhaps the demolished driveway was the source of the asphalt) was just pushed aside and down the hillside. I suspect my neighbor (who is in the construction trade) may have actually directed this whole process (perhaps to save money on constructions costs) since the house was built for him. But that is speculation. So I am left with a hillside full of debris, a neighbor who still promises to come "tomorrow" to clean it up. I have contacted the city but apparently he has broken no laws unless the trash is attracting rats, which it isn't.
I have contemplated legal action but I'm concerned that if I start a feud there are plenty of perfectly legal things my neighbor could do to make my life miserable. I want to stay on good terms because I would like to be able to plant the entire hillside with ground cover for erosion control -- if we get in a legal battle I assume he could deny me access to his property so I would be left with view of a bare, eroding hillside even if he cleans off the trash. So, I'm thinking I just have to suck it up and pay for the whole cleanup myself (probably several thousand dollars, according to one contractor I spoke with). Do others agree? Any "creative" solutions I have not considered?