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City Officials and Fire Chiefs Urged to Voice Opposition to Solar Permit Bill Immediately

AB 2188 Will Be Heard in Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 21

May 16, 2014
The League is gearing up for the Assembly Appropriations Committee next Wednesday where AB 2188 (Muratsuchi) will be heard.
 
Opposed by the League, this measure would, among other things, require cities and counties to adopt a new, costly ordinance that would essentially create a separate and unequal permitting and inspection process specifically for residential solar installations of less than 10 kilowatts. The organization has a long history of supporting the expansion of access to renewable energy resources, including residential solar, however AB 2188’s mandated rigid solar permit and inspection is not the right approach.

Requiring every local jurisdiction to uniformly issue solar permits and inspect solar installations within five days of the request would be very problematic and costly for many local governments still recovering from the historic economic downturn. A local jurisdiction’s ability to process a permit application and complete an inspection in an expedited manner is largely driven by available funding and trained staff. Furthermore, many municipalities still impose mandatory furloughs on Fridays, which limits their ability to provide services under a specified timeline.
 
Cities are also concerned that AB 2188 could pose a threat to public safety. Amendments taken in the Assembly Local Government Committee on April 30 eliminated the review process for solar permits and instead require local jurisdictions to issue the permit in a ministerial manner upon receipt of a completed application. By eliminating the permit review process, cities would be prohibited from involving their fire department or utility department in the permit approval process, thus removing a jurisdiction’s ability to verify that no fire hazards are present and the installation complies with all applicable fire codes.
 
Building permits and inspections are required by state law, regulations, and local ordinances to help ensure public safety. By enforcing these laws, local governments essentially act as a consumer protection agency. AB 2188 could jeopardize this proven process by forcing cities and counties to potentially overlook shortcomings in solar permit applications or installations in order to comply with the bill’s highly restrictive approval timeline. Additionally, AB 2188 would require cities to provide those seeking solar permits a higher level of service presently unavailable to all other permit seekers, creating an unequal permit playing field.
 
Take Action Today
 
AB 2188 is set to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, May 21. The League asks for city officials and fire chiefs to submit opposition letters through the League “Action Center” to Assembly Member Muratsuchi. Please copy your Assembly member.
 
City officials and fire chiefs are also encouraged to make calls if they are represented by a member on the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
 
Legislator addresses and fax numbers can be searched online by address. All contact info is pre-loaded to the Action Center.


 
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