Solar panels to shade city’s hillside until at least summer 

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
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The city is going to have to wait a few months longer to find out what’s going to happen with a “solar farm” covering a Canyon Country hillside. 

Attorneys for the Seidenglanz family, who are listed as the persons of interest for the hillside property facing Soledad Canyon Road, just west of Whites Canyon Road, have until April 15 for their final reply in court, according to the Second Appellate District’s records available online. 

Once that response is filed, the court is expected to set a hearing date for oral arguments over the briefs, which could be any time in the months following the filing, based on the scheduling availability of the court, a city official said Wednesday. 
The city of Santa Clarita had the lawsuit on its closed-session agenda for discussion prior to Tuesday’s Santa Clarita City Council meeting. There was no report out of closed session on the item and the city does not comment on pending litigation. 

But there have been hundreds of pages of documents and claims filed to date over the process that brought more 6,500 ground-mounted solar panels to the hillside. 

The developer argued the city referred Canyon View Estates to the state a land-use permit, which, as a permitted mobile home park, would fall under the purview of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. 

The developer got permission from the state, and then the city then did an “about-face” when it saw the project, according to the filing. A trial court judge ruled that since the panels were put up legally, the city must compensate the park for them. 

The city is arguing it shouldn’t have to pay that $5 million judgment to Canyon View for the cost of the park’s contract with panel installer California Solar because the panels violate the park’s conditional use permit with the county. (The owners of the property entitled its land usage prior to the city’s formation.) 

Under the L.A. County CUP, the park must keep a percentage of its land as open space, and the city is arguing that the panels violate that agreement; the park has argued that the trial court’s ruling negates any city claims against its land use. 

Santa Clarita City Council members have called the project an eyesore, and over the last half-dozen years, officials had spent $1.1 million in legal fees as of April 2023, according to the city’s communications office. 

When asked if a $5 million price tag would be worth removing the panels, if that’s ultimately what the city has to pay, Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth acknowledged the panels have been part of a yearslong battle for the city but that all the information wasn’t available yet. 

“We have been fighting to remove the solar panels since I came back to the council in 2017,” he said, “but I will have to weigh all the options before making any decisions.” 

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