Solar panel ruling: City can inspect Canyon View Estates

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

The city of Santa Clarita is able to inspect the property containing the 2.5 acres of solar panels on a Canyon Country hillside to help determine whether or not property owners complied with permits, according to a court ruling Tuesday. 

After oral argument in the continued legal battle between Santa Clarita and property owners Canyon View Limited, a Chatsworth judge granted the city’s request to enter the property, which is the Canyon View Mobile Home Estates at 20001 Canyon View Drive.

The parties must mutually agree on a date for the inspection, which must occur within the next 15 days, the ruling read. Attorneys representing both sides did not return requests for comment on the matter on Tuesday. 

With an inspection, the city seeks to “assess with further specificity the size, nature and scope of the solar project,” including whether Canyon View violated the conditional use permit or any building codes, read court documents. 

The inspection will also help with evaluating claims made by Canyon View that the private residential yards in the property constitute “open space,” to which the city believes the solar project did not comply with a 50% open space requirement, according to the lawsuit.

The city’s lawsuit claims that property owners’ “unpermitted and unauthorized construction of a 120,000-square-feet hillside solar energy project within a mobile home park” violated the city’s municipal code, maintained a public nuisance and is seeking to have them removed. 

Canyon View has argued that it does not have to comply with permits or Santa Clarita’s building codes as it is solely governed by the state, which oversees all mobile home parks. Direct objections to the inspection include that the demand is “vague and ambiguous” and that it is “not relevant to the subject matter of this action nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” 

The court determined that Canyon View’s objections “lacks sufficient specificity” and that the city “properly seeks the inspection in order to determine compliance with the conditional use permit and/or open space requirement.” 

The inspection was also granted on grounds that the city’s request did not detail a potential privacy violation as it does not seek entry into any residential units or access to any areas excluded from outside view. 

A nonjury trial is scheduled for June 8. 

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