By The Signal Editorial Board
This is what local government is supposed to do.
Taking a stand on behalf of the community, the city of Santa Clarita this past week filed a lawsuit against the owner of the Canyon View Estates mobile home park, which installed a massive array of solar panels on a hillside in Canyon Country without seeking proper city permits.
Many residents have complained about the solar panels, citing the unsightly installation’s massive size — estimated by city officials at more than 2.5 acres — on a hillside that’s visible throughout much of Canyon Country.
The panels appear as if they were haphazardly installed, prompting one grandmother of two children who live in Canyon View Estates to dub it “the puzzle on the hill.” She contends that the panels have increased the heat levels in her granchildren’s home, where she often babysits them.
The property owners, through Managing Partner Kerry Seidenglanz, have essentially thumbed their noses at the city and the community since the solar panels were installed last year.
Obviously, solar power has its benefits — and it may even be reducing electric bills for some of the residents of Canyon View Estates. But other issues should come into play as well, including community aesthetics and city zoning requirements.
The city issued a notice of violation in July, informing the Canyon View Estates owners that the solar panels were installed without the required city permits, and in fact violate the original conditions of approval for the mobile home park, which stipulate that half of the property is to remain as open space.
The property owners have not responded to recent requests for comment, but by all appearances they seem to believe they are above the city’s laws. The “puzzle on the hill” remains in place.
In general, California mobile home parks are under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. An inspection conducted by that agency revealed no violations of state regulations.
However, the city contends that this does not preclude the local government from enforcing its own municipal codes and planning rules.
It’s kind of like a “states’ rights” issue, but on a more local level. We agree with the city, and we applaud Santa Clarita for standing up for its residents and its own right to enforce reasonable permitting requirements.
This is one of those enforcement issues that make a legitimate difference in the aesthetics of the community, and indeed the quality of life for the residents of the mobile home park and surrounding areas.
Hopefully, Santa Clarita will prevail in its attempt to force the removal of the solar panels through litigation. After all: Asking nicely and being patient clearly has not worked.