UNION CITY — For the past two decades, Ron and Karon Kelley have resided peacefully alongside their neighbor, Bill Scalice, on Queen Anne Court.
They've watched each others' children grow up, attended each others' parties, and, whenever Scalice was away on vacation, Karon Kelley would watch his cats.
She even was entrusted with the code to his security alarm, she said.
But their relationship turned sour one week ago, when a hedge along the border of the two neighbors' properties was vertically sliced in half, the Kelleys said.
The Kelleys' side of the hedge was trimmed, they said, while Scalice's half appeared to be untouched.
Ron Kelley said he did not witness Scalice trimming the hedge, but suspects Scalice did so because that's the account he heard from more than one neighbor.
The Kelleys believe the action was prompted by their hanging of a "Yes on Prop. 8" sign on their side of the shrubbery. Proposition 8 would make it illegal for same-sex couples to marry in California.
Ron Kelley said he thinks the sign may have prompted Scalice to "take a power tool and take all the vegetation down on my side — on my property — without my knowledge."
Asked if seeing the Kelleys' sign was his reason for trimming the bushes, Scalice, who has a "No on Prop. 8" sign on his property, said, "I don't know. It could have been."
Scalice planted the bushes about 15 years ago, and, until recently, the Kelleys said, there had been no issue over whether the neighbors shared ownership of the hedge.
Scalice said he trimmed only what belonged to him.
"They were my trees. ... I trimmed them back," he said.
Shortly after the incident, Scalice — whom neighbors said is active in the Barack Obama campaign — said he apologized to some nearby residents.
"I have no idea (why they were bothered). We came home, and everyone was upset," he said.
Karon Kelley said she views Scalice's actions as a slap in the face, particularly given their more than 20 years of peaceful cohabitation.
"It's not so much that we're angry as that we're hurt," she said.
Ron Kelley said he plans to take legal action.
"It's unreasonable for us to be embarrassed like this, in our own neighborhood," he said.
Scalice said this week he's having what remains of the hedge removed and will replace it with a fence, since he had been thinking about redoing the yard anyway.
"I think somebody's just making a big deal out of nothing," he said.
One resident on the street, who would speak only on condition of anonymity, said Scalice should have spoken to the Kelleys about removing the sign from the hedge if it bothered him.
"It really could have been handled in a more grown-up and respectful way," said the neighbor, who supports Proposition 8.
Another resident, Dupsi Brown-Kuria, opposes the proposition, but said she had no opinion about the fallout between her neighbors. Brown-Kuria has lived on the street 18 years and said she's never had any negative interactions with either families.
"As individuals, (both men) probably have deeply held beliefs. ... I believe they're both committed people. I think they're both honorable people," she said.
"Good people can disagree," she added. "Both families are very good people and have benefited our neighborhood."