Today ABC Solar filed a complaint against the City of Rolling Hills Estates and its vendor Los Angeles County in the Los Angeles Superior Court. (Read the Complaint here). The action seeks to compel the City and County to comply with the letter and the spirit of the California Solar Rights Act and its associated laws. The State clearly legislates the importance of solar energy to California. The City of RHE has steadfastly passed-the-buck on clear violations of compliance with the Solar Permit Streamlining Act of 2014.
ABC Solar is seeking declaratory relief to enforce the Solar Rights Act. The Solar Rights Act prohibits governments from imposing unreasonable restrictions on the permitting process for solar energy systems. The Legislature has declared that it is the express policy of the state of California to “promote and encourage the use of solar energy systems and to remove obstacles thereto.”
The City does not process solar permits itself. Rather, it purports to delegate that function to LA County. The practical effect of the City and County’s solar process is for applicants to be treated as human ping pong balls bouncing between City and County offices for multiple visits in a process that is neither “expedited” nor “streamlined” as envisioned by the Solar Rights Act. The City and County’s process in Rolling Hills Estates requires applicants to print out reams of paper and there is no electronic application process.
One of the examples described in the lawsuit is that on March 20, 2019 ABC was hired to install a solar system at Indian Valley Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275 (postbox is in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, the property is in the City of Rolling Hills Estates). As of May 7, 2019, no permit has been issued for the Solar Project. ABC has made no fewer than three phone calls prior to two visits to the city of Rancho Palos Verdes and then the City. Phone calls to the City by ABC were greeted with “that address is in RPV, you have to go there.” The City of Rancho Palos Verdes approved the March 2019 Solar Project over-the-counter, but clerks then informed ABC of the need to go to the City. The City refused to issue the over-the counter permit as per the City’s own code which was passed by city council as required by the Solar Rights Act.
Then the real hijinks always begin with the Los Angeles County Department of Building and Safety, literally the LA Department of BS. The City of RHE has impermissibly delegated compliance with the Solar Rights Act to the County and has turned a blind eye towards violations alleged by ABC. The City’s solar permitting practices has delayed the installation of solar systems within the City. By way of comparison, neighboring cities average same-day to 3 days between application submission and permit issuance. The City’s average – as to ABC – is 18 days.
“The City of Rancho Palos Verdes is over-the-counter and is by far my favorite city to work in California. On the other hand the City of Rolling Hills Estates has always been slow and is known to ignore state mandates. Sadly, the City of Palos Verdes Estates is a hit-and-miss for solar because of the PV Art Jury.” Said Bradley Bartz, founder president of ABC Solar Inc. A same day permit means business moves fast and our team gets to work. ABC Solar is seeking a judicial determination that the City of RHE and LA County’s solar permit process violates the Solar Rights Act and an injunction compelling the City to adopt a compliant process.” As a licensed solar contractor, we strive to know and follow the law to design and install safe solar electric and solar thermal systems. We know that the Solar Rights Act has very limited “teeth”, other than that a judicial determination that the City and County’s process for issuing solar permits violates the Solar Rights Act will make the City and County ineligible to receive funds from state-sponsored grants or loans for solar energy.” Bartz continued with, “Really I am seeking an injunction compelling the City and County to adopt a compliant process.”
About ABC Solar
ABC Solar was founded in 2000 and holds a 5-star Yelp reputation and an outstanding reference base. The company focuses on using the best available equipment and loves a design challenge. Founder Bradley Bartz writes a book series called the Solar Bible. The Solar Bible 2020 edition features new state mandated “what is real about solar” disclosures that ABC Solar and Brad welcome the continued push for quality installations.
About Jeff Lewis Law
Jeff Lewis Law is a law firm of land use and civil litigation attorneys headquartered in Palos Verdes, California. The firm advises high net worth individuals and businesses regarding land use and civil litigation matters in and around Palos Verdes.