by Staff Writers
Torrance, CA (SPX) Oct 21, 2016
Today, ABC Solar Incorporated ("ABC Solar") filed a lawsuit to vindicate the rights of California homeowners to receive expedited approval of solar energy on their property. The California legislature has declared that it "is the policy of the state to promote and encourage the use of solar energy systems and to limit obstacles to their use." To this end, ABC Solar is dedicated to installing solar grid-tie systems in homes throughout Southern California.
Occasionally, ABC Solar runs across some holdout homeowner's associations and city planning departments that are ignorant of or obstruct the rights of homeowners to go solar. Three Sixty at South Bay Homeowners Association in Hawthorne, California is such an organization. The HOA has a track record of an abusive and long process for solar permits. The last installation in this HOA took 1.5 years to obtain HOA approval. The law requires a streamlined process with a 45-day limit on approvals.
ABC Solar was not aware of this HOA's history and with gusto worked with the client to design a top-of-the-line solar PV system using LG Solar panels and the SolarEdge inverter which is fine tuned for future connection to electric cars.
The HOA stonewalled ABC Solar from the beginning and continued to impose demands that are contrary to California's Solar Rights Act. One such demand is the condition that the property owner agreed to an expensive annual water intrusion test that could drive up the total installation cost over $10,000.
Another road block to this installation was presented by the City of Hawthorne in their steadfast refusal to follow the law. The City can only have limited requirements for a building permit to be issued. (Gov. Code, + 65850.5. (i)) Nor may the City condition approval for any solar energy system permit on the approval of a solar energy system by an association. The City here conditioned approval on the HOA's approval.
A second road block imposed by the City of Hawthorne was its refusal to accept an electronic permit set. The law is clear in California: Cities must accept electronic filing of solar power permit applications and associated documentation. (Gov't Code, + 65860.5 subd. (g)(2).) The City of Hawthorne cannot or will not accept solar panel applications electronically. This is really frustrating to hear from a city that houses SpaceX.
Setting aside the violations of the City of Hawthorne, it is the process and procedures of the Three Sixty at South Bay Homeowners Association that are the real issues that need to be addressed and decided by a judge.
ABC Solar predicts that the City of Hawthorne will comply with the law quickly after this suit starts. The HOA has puffed up its position and will fight to maintain their cumbersome and illegal approval process. A process that is in violation of the spirit and letter of the Solar Rights Act (Civ. Code, + 714 et seq.)
ABC Solar has a strong history of advocating and winning for solar in Southern California. The importance of our mission to install solar is powerful and drives our efforts to get cities and HOAs to follow the law.
AB2188 came down like a ton of bricks on over 500 city permit offices in California. A top-down mandate was not well received by many cities. ABC Solar still has major issues with the City of Pasadena and the City of Hawthorne about their non-compliant solar permitting processes. Our favorite city by far is Rancho Palos Verdes with their over-the-counter solar permitting process that comes with smiles.
For this court case we present a dispute that exists between ABC Solar and Three Sixty at South Bay Homeowners Association pertaining to the rights and obligations of the HOA for granting approval of solar for the permitting process. ABC Solar contends that:
a. ABC Solar has the right to install the solar panels described in the Contract with the homeowner. The failure of the Association to timely deny Homeowner's application in writing within 45 days of the application constitutes a violation of the Solar Rights Act;
b. The HOA's Annual Water Testing Requirement is an unreasonable restriction on the installation of a solar panel systems because of the cost imposed on the owner and because the industry standard requirement is to require no more than a ten-year warranty by the solar power installer; and
c. The HOA routinely subjects property owners within the HOA to illegal conditions delaying solar panel installation approval and requiring burdensome annual testing requirements.
The lawsuit filed by ABC Solar today asks the court to declare that the HOA has violated the Solar Rights Act and to order the HOA to implement a solar permitting process that is easy for the next system. Often hard HOA rules for going solar greatly reduces adoption for solar in that HOA.
All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com
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