City attorney to look at solar panels

Newport Beach's city attorney will examine the legality of a 3,000-square-foot solar panel field that has received mixed reviews from neighbors since being installed on a property that overlooks Bayside Drive in early May.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Councilman Ed Selich asked City Atty. David Hunt to produce a report analyzing how the solar structure owned by Stephen and Mashid Rizzone meets the city's zoning code and what changes — if any — can be made "in compliance with state legislation … that allows those types of installations to override local control."

Hunt said Wednesday that he is certain the project does indeed comply with the zoning code because a permit had been approved for it.

However, he won't know for a few more days if anything can be done to regulate similar projects in the future.

The city government is prevented from adopting any ordinances that would unreasonably restrict any solar energy systems under the California Solar Rights Act of 1978.

One local homeowner's association had attempted to prevent the structure from being built but without success, John Gessford, former board member of the Irvine Terrace HOA, said in May.

"It totally went against our guidelines, but we didn't have the jurisdiction to say no," Gessford said.

Selich said that he has received numerous phone calls and complaints, primarily from Balboa Island and other Bayside Drive residents, about the bay-facing solar panels.

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