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Is It OK To Take Avocados And Other Fruits From Your Neighbor's Tree? LA's Favorite Question, Revisited

If an avocado tree is on public land, the general consensus is that it's OK to pick the fruit. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Can you pick the fruit off your neighbor's tree if the branch is hanging over your property? Is it more offensive when it's avocados?

Apparently, it depends on who you ask.

When our chief content officer posed this question on her own Twitter account, we thought it would be fun to pose the question to you, dear reader — and in the process, help our colleague decide whether to pick the avocados or not.

Here's some context:

It didn't take long for locals to chime in.

BUT WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?

Despite the influx of hot takes, the question remains: is it legal to pick fruit from your neighbor's tree?

The general consensus is that if the tree is on public land, the fruit is yours to take, unless you see signage indicating otherwise. If a fruit-bearing branch crosses onto your property, it becomes more of a gray area.

"There's no written law about who owns the fruit that's hanging into public space, but there is a common law about neighbors," Austin Young told KPCC in 2013. Young founded Fallen Fruit, a local art collective which also maps the location of public fruit trees in L.A. and elsewhere. "If fruit hangs over from your neighbor's tree into your yard, then that fruit is technically yours, or you can cut those branches out."

Community Law Center, a Maryland-based nonprofit, reasons that in California, it is legally acceptable to take fruit from your neighbor's tree if the tree branches extend over your property line.

FindLaw, a website that aims to "make the law accessible and understandable for everyone," tackles this question by making note of what California defines as grand theft. According to Penal Code 487, it's when "domestic fowls, avocados, olives, citrus or deciduous fruits, other fruits, vegetables, nuts, artichokes, or other farm crops are taken of a value exceeding $250." But, like, don't steal your neighbor's fruits — especially $250 worth of it.

But the overarching advice we've seen over and over is that perhaps the quickest, easiest way to answer this question is to simply ask your neighbor. Who knows, you might even end up making a new friend.