City and Canyon View Limited return to court over solar panels

Solar panels have been installed on the hills of Canyon View Estates. Courtesy of Geri Brown.

A Chatsworth Courthouse judge heard arguments Tuesday from attorneys representing the city of Santa Clarita, which is suing Canyon View Limited over a slew of solar panels that have crowded a Canyon Country hillside.

A tentative ruling led to the court scheduling a nonjury trial in October, as the judge indicated plans this week to deny the defendant’s motion to dismiss the city’s lawsuit.

The owners of the Canyon View Estates mobile home park filed a request for the hearing March 15, looking to dismiss the city’s formal complaint filed last year, in which the city seeks to have the solar panels behind the park removed. Santa Clarita responded that same month in opposition to the arguments raised in the motion.

The judge’s tentative ruling, however, showed that the judge plans to deny the motion based on several arguments not being addressed, including for “violation of open space requirements,” “submission and wrongful denial of any application for the installation of a solar energy system” and “failure to establish an ultra vires action by (the city) in the determination regarding the propriety of the panels on the mobile home park portion of the property.”

Lawyer Brian Inman Hamblet for the city and Douglas J. Evertz for Canyon View Limited appeared in court for a reply to the motion and the court took the matter under submission, which a judge often does in order to further review evidence.

The motion argues that the city lacks jurisdiction to regulate the solar power system because the state of California holds jurisdiction over the mobile home park through the Mobilehome Parks Act. The defendants also challenged the terms of a conditional use permit utilized to build the mobile home park of more than 400 homes.

The tentative ruling said the city “presents numerous arguments in opposition, including improper moving parties, improper requested relief, reliance on extrinsic evidence, and the applicability of Mobilehome Parks Act exemptions.”

In September, the city’s complaint had asked the court for “preliminary and permanent injunction,” and to “abate a public nuisance.” The lawsuit comes after 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.

A nonjury trial between the two parties has been scheduled at the same courthouse Oct. 21.

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