Provision brings city in line with state on solar power systems
PALMDALE — The City Council on July 9 unanimously adopted an ordinance to streamline installation of small residential solar power systems, bringing the city’s municipal code into alignment with state law while maintaining provisions suited to Palmdale’s conditions, such as snow and wind.
The ordinance establishes an expedited permit process, with an electronic application. Applications that comply with a preapproved checklist will receive automatic approval, unless the system is deemed to have “a specific, adverse impact to public health and safety” by the city building official.
The ordinance calls for pre-inspection of the system’s connection to the roof to ensure it is properly and securely installed.
This deviation from the state guidelines is because the building official “feels very strongly that he needs to look at the installation on the roof, the connections to the roof”
due to potential snow and wind loads and potential for earthquakes, City Attorney Matthew Ditzhazy said.
Mayor Pro Tem Austin Bishop disputed whether the pre-inspection was necessary, in addition to the final inspection, as it would add time to complete the installation to wait for a city inspector and therefore acting against the guidance to streamline the process.
“My main goal on here is to make sure the businesses and the residents get their things done as easy and as quick as possible,” he said, and he has had feedback from solar companies about inspection delays.
Ditzhazy said the city has already been operating under these conditions and the pre-inspection time is very short. There have been few, if any, complaints about the process.
It is important to inspect the systems before they are complete to be able to accurately see how the system is attached to the roof, said Mark Oyler, director of economic and community development, which oversees the building and safety functions.
“It’s very much about a public safety issue,” he said. “The key here is to protect the residents of Palmdale.”
He spoke of companies that have mistakenly attached the structure through the sheeting instead of a beam, which makes the panels vulnerable to being pulled off in a strong wind. This kind of mistake can only be caught during a pre-inspection, before the panels themselves are in place.
“It’s actually quite simple when you take a look at what’s going on out there,” Mayor Steve Hofbauer said.