Chapter 16.18
SMALL RESIDENTIAL ROOFTOP

SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS PERMITTING

Sections:

16.18.010    Purpose.

16.18.020    Definitions.

16.18.030    Applicability.

16.18.040    Solar energy system requirements.

16.18.050    Duties of Building Department and Building Official.

16.18.060    Expedited permit review and inspection requirements.

16.18.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to adopt an expedited, streamlined solar permitting process that complies with the Solar Rights Act and Cal. Gov’t Code § 65850.5 to achieve timely and cost-effective installations of small residential rooftop solar energy systems. This chapter is designed to encourage the use of solar systems by removing unreasonable barriers, minimizing costs to property owners and the City, and expanding the ability of property owners to install solar energy systems. This chapter allows the City to achieve these goals while protecting the public health and safety. [Ord. 15-018 § 1.]

16.18.020 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter the following definitions apply:

“Building Department” shall mean the Building Department of the Planning and Building Department for the City of Dixon.

“Building Official” shall mean the Community Development Director or his or her designee.

“City” shall mean the City of Dixon, a municipal corporation.

“Electronic submittal” shall mean the utilization of one (1) or more of the following: (1) email, (2) the Internet, (3) facsimile.

“Expedited permitting” and “expedited review” shall mean the process outlined in DMC 16.18.060, Expedited permit review and inspection requirements.

“Feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact” shall mean any cost-effective method, condition or mitigation imposed by the City on another similarly situated application in a prior successful application for a similar permit.

“Planning Commission” shall mean the Planning Commission for the City of Dixon.

“Small residential rooftop solar energy system” shall include all of the following:

1. A solar energy system that is not larger than ten (10) kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating or thirty (30) kilowatts thermal.

2. A solar energy system that conforms to all applicable State fire, structural, electrical, and other building codes as adopted or amended by the City of Dixon and all State of California health and safety standards.

3. A solar energy system that is installed on a single or duplex family dwelling.

4. A solar panel or module array that does not exceed the maximum legal building height as defined by the City of Dixon.

“Solar energy system” shall mean either of the following:

1. Any solar collector or other solar energy device whose primary purpose is to provide for the collection, storage, and distribution of solar energy for space heating, space cooling, electric generation, or water heating.

2. Any structural design feature of a building whose primary purpose is to provide for the collection, storage, and distribution of solar energy for electricity generation, space heating, space cooling or water heating.

“Specific, adverse impact” shall mean a significant, quantifiable, direct and unavoidable impact, based on objective, identified and written public health or safety standards, policies or conditions as they existed on the date the application was deemed complete. [Ord. 15-018 § 1.]

16.18.030 Applicability.

This chapter applies to the permitting of all small residential rooftop solar energy systems in the City. Small residential rooftop solar energy systems legally established or permitted prior to the effective date of this chapter are not subject to the requirements of this chapter unless physical modifications or alterations are undertaken that materially change the size, type, or components of a small rooftop energy system in such a way as to require new permitting. Routine operation and maintenance or like-kind replacements shall not require a permit. [Ord. 15-018 § 1.]

16.18.040 Solar energy system requirements.

A. All solar energy systems shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by the City and the State of California.

B. Solar energy systems for heating water in single-family residences and for heating water in commercial or swimming pool applications shall be certified by an accredited listing agency as defined by the California Plumbing and Mechanical Code.

C. Solar energy systems for producing electricity shall meet all applicable safety and performance standards established by the California Electrical Code, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and accredited testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories and, where applicable, rules of the Public Utilities Commission regarding safety and reliability. [Ord. 15-018 § 1.]

16.18.050 Duties of Building Department and Building Official.

A. All documents required for the submission of an expedited small residential rooftop solar energy system application shall be made available on the City’s publicly accessible website.

B. Electronic submittal of the required permit application and documents via email, the City’s website, or facsimile shall be made available to all small residential rooftop solar energy system permit applicants.

C. An applicant’s electronic signature shall be accepted on all forms, applications, and other documents in lieu of a wet signature.

D. The Building Department shall adopt a standard plan and checklist of all requirements with which small residential rooftop solar energy systems shall comply to be eligible for expedited review.

E. The small residential rooftop solar system permit process, standard plans, and checklist shall substantially conform to the recommendations for expedited permitting, including the checklist and standard contained in the most current version of the California Solar Permitting Guidebook adopted by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

F. All fees prescribed for the permitting of small residential rooftop solar energy systems must comply with Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 65850.55 and 66015 and Cal. Health and Safety Code § 17951. [Ord. 15-018 § 1.]

16.18.060 Expedited permit review and inspection requirements.

A. The Building Department shall adopt an administrative, nondiscretionary review process to expedite the approval of small residential rooftop solar energy system applications within thirty (30) days of adoption of this chapter. For an application for a small residential rooftop solar energy system that meets the requirements of the approved checklist and standard plan, the Building Department shall issue a building permit or other nondiscretionary permit within three (3) business days. The Building Official may require an applicant to apply for a use permit if the official finds, based on substantial evidence, that the solar energy system could have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health and safety. Such decisions may be appealed to the Planning Commission.

B. Review of the application shall be limited to the Building Official’s review of whether the applicant meets local, State and Federal health and safety requirements.

C. If a use permit is required, the Building Official may deny an application for the use permit if the official makes written findings based upon substantive evidence in the record that the proposed installation would have a specific, adverse impact upon public health or safety and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact. Such findings shall include the basis for the rejection of the potential feasible alternative for preventing the adverse impact. Such decisions may be appealed to the Planning Commission.

D. Any condition imposed on an application shall be designed to mitigate the specific, adverse impact upon health and safety at the lowest possible cost. The City shall use its best efforts to ensure that the selected method, condition, or mitigation meets the conditions of Cal. Civ. Code § 714(d)(1)(A)-(B).

E. If an application for a small residential rooftop solar energy system is deemed incomplete, a written correction notice detailing all deficiencies in the application and any additional information or documentation required to be eligible for expedited permitting shall be sent to the applicant for resubmission.

F. Only one inspection shall be required and performed by the Building Department for small residential rooftop solar energy systems eligible for expedited review.

G. The inspection shall be done in a timely manner and should include consolidated inspections. An inspection will be scheduled within two (2) business days of a request.

H. If a small residential rooftop solar energy system fails inspection, a subsequent inspection is authorized but need not conform to the requirements of this chapter. [Ord. 15-018 § 1.]