What can the city do regarding the solar panels that were installed above Canyon View Estates?
Without its knowledge, the owners of the manufactured home park started putting up the first phase of what will become 6,000 solar panels on the hill overlooking the property – after removing the vegetation.
It is an admitted eyesore.
“It’s ugly. There’s no doubt it’s ugly,” said resident Josh Burke, a renter since 2012. “I’m sure he thinks it’s ugly.”
“He” is Managing Director Kerry Seidenglanz, who admits the non-symmetrical way the panels have been erected is less attractive. But he insists the benefits far outweigh the aesthetic drawbacks.
“Solar is a benefit, not just for ecology but also for Canyon View,” he said. “We’ve had two power outages recently – both (Southern California) Edison’s problem. … We’re producing our own power. If Edison has a blackout, we’ll still have air conditioning.”
A resident who didn’t want to be identified texted that she wasn’t aware she would have power during a blackout, as a result of the solar panels.
Seidenglanz said the residents would still have to pay for their power, as each unit has its own meter and is connected to the power grid. But there will be power in the complex when other nearby places are suffering from power outages.
Because Canyon View Estates is classified as a manufactured home-planned unit development, Seidenglanz said he only needed to get approval from the state, specifically the Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, which he has, after “50 inspections.”
This has left the city on the outside, and plenty of people are unhappy about it. Residents and community members called, and officials from the city’s code enforcement came out three months ago, Seidenglanz said.
“They looked everything over and said we did not have the permission of the city,” Seidenglanz said. “No, we did not. … HCD is in charge.”
According to city spokesperson Carrie Lujan, once the owner provided a copy of the permits HCD issued, the city had no further jurisdiction. But community activist Alan Ferdman pointed out at the Sept. 12 council meeting that the HCD puts out a construction plan review booklet. The very first guideline says that a person seeking an HCD-approved permit should first “obtain approval and signature from the local planning department.”
Ferdman asked, “Who in the city did the planning approval before this went up to the state, and if, in fact, that didn’t happen, why aren’t we looking to go and see what we can do to resurrect the process?”
City Manager Ken Striplin answered, “The answer is nobody. Planning did not know. Planning was not asked to approve the project. We found out about the project the same time everybody else did, when it was built.”
That did not satisfy Councilmember Bob Kellar, who was upset about it enough to mention it at the Aug. 22 council meeting. Calling it “an abomination,” Kellar expressed disgust with Sacramento.
“The thing I want people to know is we did not do it,” Kellar said. “It was completely carried out by Sacramento. … That’s Sacramento working for all of us out here.”
Kellar had previously sent letters to Assemblymen Dante Acosta and Tom Lackey and Sen. Scott Wilk complaining that the city has no recourse under the law and that HCD “should at the very least contact cities to ensure local circumstances are considered.”
Lackey sent a response saying his office will research the HCD’s processes “and I will let you know if I am able to author legislation to remedy this problem.”
Meanwhile, the final panels will be installed before the beginning of December, Seidenglanz said.
“I believe in solar,” he said. “If God gave us the sun, why not use it?”