Chapter 8.05
SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS

Sections:

8.05.010    Purpose.

8.05.020    Definitions.

8.05.030    Expedited permitting process.

8.05.040    Permit application processing.

8.05.050    Severability of unreasonable restrictions.

8.05.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to comply with Government Code Section 65850.5 and Civil Code Section 714 and to promote and encourage the use of solar energy systems by creating an expedited, streamlined permitting process for residential rooftop solar energy systems while promoting public health and safety and preventing specific adverse impacts in the installation and use of such systems. Palmdale’s unique climactic and topographical conditions create a snow load greater than that normally found in California and, as such, the City of Palmdale is authorized to modify the standards found in the California Solar Permitting Guidebook. (Ord. 1527 § 1, 2019)

8.05.020 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter, the following words shall have the same definitions as set forth in Government Code Section 65850.5 or Civil Code Section 714, as applicable, as they may be amended from time to time. As of the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, the following words and phrases are defined as follows:

(A) “Significantly” has the following meanings: For solar domestic water heating systems or solar swimming pool heating systems that comply with state and federal law, “significantly” means an amount exceeding 10 percent of the cost of the system, but in no case more than $1,000, or decreasing the efficiency of the solar energy system by an amount exceeding 10 percent, as originally specified and proposed. For photovoltaic systems that comply with state and federal law, “significantly” means an amount not to exceed $1,000 over the system cost as originally specified and proposed, or a decrease in system efficiency of an amount exceeding 10 percent as originally specified and proposed.

(B) “Small residential rooftop solar energy system” means all of the following: (1) a solar energy system that is no larger than 10 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating or 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, County, or City and County and Section 714(c)(3) of the Civil Code; (3) a solar energy system that is installed on a duplex or single-family dwelling; and (4) a solar panel or module array that does not exceed the maximum legal building height as defined by the authority having jurisdiction.

(C) “Solar energy system” has the same meaning set forth in Section 801.5(aa)(1) and (2) of the Civil Code, which is 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; or (2) a structural design feature of a building, including either of the following: (a) any design feature whose primary purpose is to provide for the collection, storage, and distribution of solar energy for electricity generation, space heating or cooling, or for water heating; or (b) any photovoltaic device or technology that is integrated into a building, including, but not limited to, photovoltaic windows, siding, and roofing shingles or tiles. (Ord. 1527 § 1, 2019)

8.05.030 Expedited permitting process.

(A) Streamlined Process. Consistent with Government Code Section 65850.5 and Civil Code Section 714, the Building Official shall implement an expedited, streamlined permitting process for small residential solar systems and adopt a checklist of all requirements with which small rooftop solar energy systems shall comply in order to be eligible for expedited review.

(B) Checklist Effective with Commission Approval. The Building Official’s checklist and procedures shall become effective upon approval by the Planning Commission, which approval may be granted by motion or resolution. Such procedures may be amended by the Planning Commission from time to time. The City’s adopted checklist and procedures shall be published on the City’s website, and shall be binding upon all applicants.

(C) Checklist Contents. The checklist and procedures may refer to the recommendations contained in the most current version of the California Solar Permitting Guidebook and adopted by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Such checklist must ensure that all requirements of this chapter are met, including the following:

(1) Certification of Water Heating Systems Required. Solar energy systems used for heating water in single-family residences and solar collectors used for heating water in commercial or swimming pool applications shall be certified by an accredited listing agency as defined in the plumbing and mechanical codes.

(2) Solar Energy Standards. A solar energy system for producing electricity shall also 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.

(3) Property Owner Associations. In the technical review of a solar energy system, the Building Official shall not condition its approval on the approval of such a system by an association as that term is defined in Section 4080 of the Civil Code.

(4) Building Standards Code. Solar energy systems must comply with all requirements of the California Building Standards Code, as it may be amended from time to time by the City. Such revisions may include, but are not limited to, City amendments relating to snow loads and high winds. (Ord. 1527 § 1, 2019)

8.05.040 Permit application processing.

(A) Adverse Impact Prohibited. Prior to submitting an application for processing, the applicant shall verify that the installation of a solar energy system will not have specific, adverse impact to public health and safety. “Specific, adverse impact” means 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. Verification by the applicant includes but is not limited to: electrical system capacity and loads; electrical system wiring, bonding and overcurrent protection; building infrastructure affected by solar energy system equipment and associated conduits; and areas of the solar energy system.

(B) Permit Applications. A permit application that satisfies the information requirements in the City’s adopted checklist shall be deemed complete and be promptly processed. If the Building Official determines that the permit application is incomplete, the Building Official shall issue a written correction notice to the applicant, detailing all deficiencies in the application and any additional information required to be eligible for expedited permit issuance. Upon confirmation by the Building Official that the permit application and supporting documents meet the City’s checklist requirements and are consistent with all applicable laws and health and safety standards, the Building Official shall, consistent with Government Code Section 65850.5, issue a permit for the solar energy system.

(C) Electronic Submission Permitted. Permit applications covered by this chapter and associated supporting documentation may be submitted via email to the Building Official, but such documentation shall only be considered received on the date the Building Official personally responds via email that the documents were received. In accepting such permit applications, the Building Official shall also accept electronic signatures on all forms, applications, and other documentation in lieu of a wet signature by any applicant.

(D) Appeal. The Building Official’s determination may be appealed to the Planning Commission. Such appeal shall be governed by the procedures of Division 2 (Review Procedures) of PMC Title 17 (Zoning), except that the determination of the Planning Commission shall be final and cannot be appealed to the City Council. After conducting the public hearing, the reviewing body shall issue its determination in writing, based upon substantial evidence in the record.

(E) Inspections. A pre-inspection of the roof penetrations is required to ensure that the footings of the solar energy system are properly installed. For small residential rooftop solar energy systems eligible for expedited review, only one final inspection is required, which shall be done in a timely manner. If a small residential rooftop solar energy system fails the final inspection, then subsequent inspection(s) are authorized. (Ord. 1527 § 1, 2019)

8.05.050 Severability of unreasonable restrictions.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, if, upon request of an applicant pursuant to this section, the Building Official determines that any section of this chapter, or any method, condition or mitigation established pursuant to this chapter, establishes a standard which “significantly” increases the cost of the system (see PMC 8.05.020(A)) or significantly decreases its efficiency or specified performance, or that disallows an alternative system of comparable cost, efficiency, and energy conservation benefits, then such requirement shall not be enforced by the Building Official. In such event, the Building Official will notify the Director of Economic and Community Development in writing that the official is waiving the requirement, and the reason the requirement should be waived. (Ord. 1527 § 1, 2019)