SCVNews.com | City Must Pay $5 Million if Solar Panels are Demolished

By Perry Smith

Signal Managing Editor

In a ruling of “power versus space … two great pillars of environmental sustainability,” open space won this week, a win for city officials — at a $5 million price.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Canyon View Estates violated its conditional use permit that demands a certain portion of the mobile home park’s land be open space.

So, the city has the right to have Canyon View’s panels demolished, removed and the open space restored, the ruling stated. “At the same time, if the city decided to exercise this right, the court is imposing the condition of repayment to the defendants on the granting of the injunction.”

The court found the reimbursable costs to be $5 million for the removal of the system, placing “the ball in the city’s proverbial court,” according to the ruling.

The court looked at two issues: whether the city had standing to demand a conditional use permit for the installation of the solar panels in 2017, and whether the solar panels violated the terms of the conditional use permit the park was authorized under by Los Angeles County in 1984, before the city had come into existence.

“Because a conditional use permit is a zoning regulation, it falls upon the local zoning authority to enforce it,” according to the judgment, which also noted that the city “holds standing as an enforcement entity that assumed jurisdiction over the conditional use permit for the park,” which was issued from the county in 1984, prior to the city’s incorporation.

Further, the court noted the city “acted within its authority in demanding a permit and is not preempted.”

The court also noted that even if the lawns were manicured at the mobile home park, the space was neither “natural nor open,” ruling the panels constituted a violation of the park’s open space requirements.

The installation of the solar panels covered about 2.689 acres of the Canyon Country hillside, and the judge also determined that acreage violated what the Seidenglanzes claimed the project would have in his initial permit-application for the project.

However, noting the case was a complicated one with factors unique to mobile home parks, the judge found an “all or nothing approach is neither fair nor equitable. Both sides bear some responsibility for the current predicament.”