City sues Canyon View Estates over solar panels

Solar panels line a hillside in Canyon Country above the Canyon View Estates. The City of Santa Clarita has ordered the removal of these panels. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

After an attempt to clear more than 2 acres of land occupied by solar panels, the city of Santa Clarita has filed a lawsuit against the owners of Canyon View Estates mobile home park.

Filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, the city’s lawsuit asks the court for “preliminary and permanent injunction” and to “abate a public nuisance.”

The complaint notes the solar panels, located in and outside the park, are “exceptionally large.” The lawsuit specifies that the city believes the structures measure more than 120,000 square feet, or spread across more than 2.5 acres of land. This is equivalent to about 6,000 solar panels, the city alleges.

The formal complaint stems from Canyon View installing the solar panels without city permits last year, violating the city’s municipal code. A city news release issued Wednesday also said the solar panel project failed to comply with the mobile home park’s conditions of approval, which state that 50 percent of the property must remain as open space.

A call to Kerry Seidenglanz, managing partner of Canyon View Estates, was not returned Wednesday.

City officials said other complaints in the lawsuit include the owner’s failure to submit a hillside development plan or a geotechnical report, which determines whether the land can support the structure. Operating a power-generation business on the park property, which is not zoned for such activity, is also a violation of the city’s municipal code, the lawsuit alleges.

Because all mobile home parks are generally under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, an inspection conducted by that agency revealed no violations with the installation, according to a spokesperson with the HCD.

City Communications Manager Carrie Lujan said Wednesday, however, that though the project falls within park boundaries, the city can intervene when it comes to health and safety matters.

The lawsuit says cities must regulate solar-energy systems through a permit process and require that projects meet applicable health and safety standards under the Solar Rights Act.

According to the formal complaint, “…Health and Safety Code specifically states that such regulation by the HCD ‘shall not prevent local authorities… from regulating the construction and use of equipment and facilities located outside of a manufactured home or mobile home used to supply gas, water or electricity.’”

The first attempt to have the solar panels removed started in July, when the city issued a notice of violation. Owners of the mobile home park have not publicly commented on the matter since the installation of the solar project in July 2017. They were again unavailable for comment this week.

On Tuesday, when contacted for a Signal news story that appeared in Wednesday’s edition, Lujan said an investigation on the matter remained open.

City attorney Joe Montes declined comment on Tuesday and was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

The city issued its press release on Wednesday announcing the lawsuit had been filed on Monday. Lujan said Wednesday she had not been aware of the lawsuit until later on Tuesday.

The city council authorized the city attorney to pursue legal action at the March 27 special meeting, she added.

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