Canyon View Estates seeks dismissal of city complaint; city responds

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

In response to the city of Santa Clarita’s lawsuit over solar panels, the owners of Canyon View Estates have filed a motion looking to dismiss the city’s complaint, and the city has responded in opposition to the motion.

The defendants, including Canyon View managing partner Kerry Seidenglanz, filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings with the Los Angeles County Superior Court on March 15 and asked the court to grant the defendants’ “judgment on the pleadings, without leave to amend” in regards to the city’s formal complaint filed in September. A hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled May 14.

The city’s complaint asks the court for “preliminary and permanent injunction,” as well as to “abate a public nuisance.” The litigation stems from Canyon View’s installment of what the city alleges to be about 6,000 solar panels spread across more than 2 acres of land without city permits in 2017, which violates Santa Clarita’s municipal code.

The solar panels have drawn numerous complaints from local residents who describe the hillside array as an eyesore.

The lawsuit also alleges that the solar panel project did not successfully comply with the mobile home park’s conditions of approval, which indicates a 50-percent open space requirement on the property.

The city’s points are rebutted in Canyon View’s motion, which contends that “the city’s complaint fails to state a claim, and must be dismissed as to the defendants.” The motion argues that because the mobile home park is under the state of California’s jurisdiction, the city cannot regulate the locale of more than 400 homes. The argument also includes a response to the alleged violation of the 50-percent open space requirement, to which the defendant says the “express terms and unambiguous numerical restrictions of the (conditional use permit)… contradict and supersede” the city’s complaint.

Neither Seidenglanz nor the defendants’ attorneys were available for comment Thursday. The city said it could not comment on pending litigation, according to Communications Manager Carrie Lujan, but its formal reply to Canyon View’s motion breaks down its stance.

Just less than two weeks since the filed motion, the city filed a response Wednesday. The formal reply states that the defense “suffers from multiple defects,” such as “ignoring applicable legal standards” and seeks to “adjudicate issues in an improper attempt to have the city’s complaint dismissed.”

In its opposition, the city said that while the Mobilehome Parks Acts does pre-empt many local regulations with regards to mobile home parks, “the city’s enforcement efforts in this case fall within exceptions established by both the MPA and case law. Contrary to the defendants’ assertions, these authorities are not an absolute bar to the city’s enforcement action.”

A section of the reply states that Canyon View failed to address the exception provided in Health and Safety Code section 18300(g), which reads that local authorities shall not be prevented from “regulating the construction and use of equipment and facilities located outside of a manufactured home or mobilehome used to supply gas, water, or electricity thereto, except facilities owned, operated, and maintained by a public utility,” the city response said.

Should the court grant Canyon View’s motion, the city said in its opposition that it would like to request 30 days’ leave to amend its complaint, even though the defendant filed a motion “without leave to amend.”  

A hearing on the motion for the judgment on the pleadings is set for May 14 at the Chatsworth Courthouse. A nonjury trial between the two parties has also been scheduled at the same courthouse Oct. 21.

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