If solar panels fail, city must pay $ 5 million

In a decision of “power versus space… two great pillars of environmental sustainability,” open space this week won a victory for city officials – at a cost of $ 5 million.

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

Thus, the city has the right to have the Canyon View panels “demolished, removed and restored open space,” the ruling said. “At the same time, if the city decides to exercise this right, the court imposes the condition of reimbursement on the defendants when the injunction is granted.

The court estimated the out-of-pocket costs to be $ 5 million for the removal of the system, putting “the ball in the proverbial city court,” according to the judgment.

City Councilor Cameron Smyth said ahead of Tuesday’s city council meeting, the city may find a degree of validation in the decision regarding its efforts to assert local surveillance on the hill and the installation of signs, which most see as a nuisance due to a number of factors, including their proximity to houses and their seemingly random alignment.

“From the start, the placement of the signs was done using a loophole in the law, and we first contacted some of our local lawmakers to seek to close the loophole,” Smyth said.

The court considered two issues: whether the city had standing to apply for 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 under which the park was licensed by Los Angeles County. in 1984, before the city existed.

“Because a conditional use permit is a zoning by-law, it is up to the local zoning authority to enforce it,” according to the judgment, which also noted that the city “acts as an entity of enforcement which assumed jurisdiction over the conditional use permit for the park, ”which was issued by the county in 1984, before the city’s incorporation in 1987.

In addition, the court noted that the city “has acted within its authority by requesting a permit and is not preempted.”

The court also noted that even though the lawns were maintained in the mobile home park, the space was neither “natural nor open,” ruling that the signs violated the park’s open space requirements.

The solar panel installation covered approximately 2,689 acres of Canyon Country Hill, and the judge also determined that the acreage violated what the owners – managing partners Kerry and Mark Seidenglanz – claimed the project would have in demand. initial permit for the project.

However, when considering an appeal for the city, the court noted that the case was complicated. Although the city has a right of local jurisdiction, Canyon View legally owned the land and modified it under the legal supervision of the state. As a result, the judge concluded that an “all or nothing approach is neither fair nor equitable. Both parties bear some responsibility for the current situation. ”

Things are less complicated for former Canyon View resident Ben Turner, who was elated when he heard the news of the decision.

From his current home in Michigan, he noted that signs were no longer a problem for him now, but it made selling his mobile home in the park “a nightmare.”

“Well, the first reaction was, ‘Hooray, it looks like justice is being served after all,” Turner said. “I had given up hope.

The city is expected to have a discussion regarding the trial and the closed-door decision, and Smyth hopes that with a ruling in hand, they can now have an easier time looking for a legislative solution going forward.

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About Lois Mendez

Lois Mendez

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