Last year, when the
But now it turns out that developers also want to use the Feed-in Tariff program to put panels on undeveloped agricultural and residential land, much to the surprise and concern of neighbors. Residents in the semirural neighborhood of Lake View Terrace have been fighting a proposal to sandwich 3,500 solar cells between houses and horse stables, which would produce enough electricity to power 200 homes a year. Some 19 solar "farms" are proposed for open land in the northeast San Fernando Valley alone, and city officials have told residents that state law allows the panels to be installed anywhere, without land-use permits or conditions, as long as there is no risk to health or public safety. That means residents have no ability to challenge or seek conditions on solar farms in their communities.
City officials point to the 1978 Solar Rights Act, which was designed to encourage the use of solar power and prevent cities from enacting "unreasonable barriers" to installations. But the author of that law, then-Assemblyman Mel Levine, who now heads the DWP's Board of Water and Power Commissioners, said the act was intended to make it easier for homeowners to put solar panels on their houses, not necessarily to protect solar power plants in residential areas.