CSAC Bulletin Article

Feedback Needed on Land Use and Solar Permitting Bills

January 6, 2022

The Legislature reconvened for the second year of the 2021-22 legislative session this week, and members have already started to amend and introduce proposed legislation. Below are a couple of two-year bills that were recently significantly amended into land use and solar permitting measures.

CSAC staff is seeking feedback from counties on any expected impacts related to these measures. Please send your feedback to Marina Espinoza at mespinoza@counties.org. We will continue to keep counties updated on any new legislative proposals with potential impacts to counties.

AB 1001 (C. Garcia) – Mitigation of Air and Water Quality Impacts

This bill would require mitigation measures, identified in an environmental impact report or mitigated negative declaration to mitigate the adverse effects of a project on air or water quality of a disadvantaged community, to mitigate those effects directly in the affected disadvantaged community. More broadly, AB 1001 would also require all public agencies, in implementing CEQA, to act consistently with the principles of environmental justice, as defined, by ensuring the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, incomes, and national origins.

SB 379 (Wiener) – Permits for Residential Solar Energy Systems

This bill would require cities and counties to implement an online, automated permitting platform that verifies code compliance and instantaneously issues permits for a solar energy system that is no larger than 38.4 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating and an energy storage system paired with a solar energy system that is no larger than 38.4 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating. Forthcoming amendments will limit the bill’s provisions to permitting for residential solar energy systems, among other technical changes.

This bill would require cities and counties to amend a certain ordinance to authorize a residential solar energy system and an energy storage system to use the online, automated permitting platform. It would prescribe a compliance schedule for satisfying these requirements, which would exempt a county with a population of less than 150,000 and all cities within that county. These counties would be required to satisfy the bill’s requirements by September 30, 2022.

Finally, the bill would require a city, county, or a fire department, district, or authority to report to the Energy Commission when they comply with the bill’s requirements and create other ongoing reporting requirements. The current bill language would also prohibit the provision of specified funding sources to cities and counties not in compliance with certain provisions relating to solar energy systems and fees charged for their installation or if they are not in compliance with provisions of the bill.

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