Trees Get a Win Over Solar Panels

Earlier in February a strange case arose over an obscure California law, the Solar Shade Control Act (.PDF), passed in 1979 after the Oil Crisis. The law essentially made criminals out of a pair of Sunnyvale residents, whose eight redwood trees cast shade on a neighbor's solar panels.

The dispute between the neighbors, Mark Vargas (solar panel owner) and Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett (tree owners) was "settled" when a judge ruled Treanor and Bissett had to cut two of the trees down, despite the fact that the trees pre-dated the solar panels.

Let us cast some common sense on this by saying: huh? The trees were there first!

Well, on Tuesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that says "first come, first served." If the trees or other vegetation are there first, then if solar panels go up later, the trees get to stay.

The fact that Vargas is taking Treanor and Bissett back to civil court makes one wonder if it was really just the solar panels, or a "bad neighbor" policy that set Vargas off: he's now suing claiming the remaining trees’ roots damage an underground storm drain and that they violate state laws prohibiting spite fences.

From what I've heard so far of this guy, a spite fence seems necessary.

But at least, in this battle of green vs. green, green won.