Sierra Club Report on SoCal Solar Permits Shows Wide Disparities

by Robin Yeager on 07/20/2009

in California Solar Law

Bravo! to the Sierra Club for its efforts to encourage municipalities to reduce residential photovoltaic permit fees to $324 or less and to issue PV permits within one week or less.

The Sierra Club’s comprehensive comparative report, “Solar Electric Permit Fees in Southern California” details the permitting fees and times in 250 municipalities in 10 Southern California counties. A table listing fees by municipality begins on p.11 of the report. Residents of La Habra Heights can pay as much as $1572 in fees while 3 counties (Ventura, San Diego and San Bernardino) and 18 cities (incl. Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica) do not charge for solar permits.

The Sierra Club challenges the methodology that many municipalities use to compute their fees based on California law. “Charging more for solar permit fees than the reasonable costs to administer the permit violates California Government Code Section 66014, which provides that fees associated with building inspections and building permits “shall not exceed the estimated reasonable cost of providing the service for which the fee is charged.” The Club further notes that Govt. Code 65850.5 (a) states that it’s the Legislature’s intent that local agencies encourage solar energy installations “by removing obstacles to, and minimizing costs of, permitting for such systems”.


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