According to California’s Solar Shade Act, solar panels are more important than any trees that shade them.
The lawsuit happened last month, but the repercussions could be endless. It occurred between two San Francisco homeowners: one with eight 35-foot redwood trees, the other with a $100,000 solar panel system. According to Mark Vargas, owner of the solar panels, his neighbor Richard Treanor is responsible for cutting his trees down because they blocked the sunlight from entering his yard. The court agreed.
The ruling was based on Californias Solar Shade Control Act, passed in 1979 and only now applied. It’s also the first case of it’s kind in the nation. According to the act, solar panels are more important than any trees that shade them.
But is the battle really between trees and panels? Practically speaking, yes. The trees, planted before Vargass solar system was installed, began at 10 feet, are now 35 feet, and will, in time, grow to 100 feet. Vargas feels entitled to sunlight in his yard, and because hes got a $100,000 renewable energy system in place, the law agrees. However, Treanors trees do their share for the environment, too. Both Vargas and Treanor recycle, have energy saving appliances, and own electric cars. So its not a case of whos greener. The danger of this case is that more and more similar cases will arise, pinpointing shade producing trees as hazards, when the heart of these conflicts lie with property lines.
Treanor has until the end of the month to chop down 2 of his 8 trees. The other 6 will remain intact.