1 Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 624 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 4, “Building Regulations,” to Add Chapter 8, “Small Residential Solar Energy System Review Process,” to the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Expedited Permitting Procedures for Small Residential Rooftop Solar Systems.

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STAFF REPORT

AGENDA ITEM: Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 624 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 4, "Building Regulations," to Add Chapter 8, "Small Residential Solar Energy System Review Process," to the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Expedited Permitting Procedures for Small Residential Rooftop Solar Systems.

MEETING DATE: October 20,

PREPARED BY: Randy Hatch, Contract City Planner

REVIEWED BY: Eddie Duque, City Manager

RECOMMENDATION:

Waive the second reading and adopt Ordinance No. 624 of the City Council of the City of Livingston amending Title 4, "Building Regulations," to add Chapter 8, "Small Residential Solar Energy System Review Process," to the Livingston Municipal Code relating to expedited permitting procedures for small residential rooftop solar systems.

BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION:

In 2014 the California Legislature adopted and the Governor signed AB 2188, which amended the California Code to include Section 65850.5. This Government Code Section provides that it is the policy of the State to promote and encourage the installation and use of solar energy systems by limiting obstacles to their use and by minimizing the permitting costs of such systems.

In furtherance of that objective, Government Code Section 65850.5(g) provides that, on or before September 30, 2015, every city or county adopt an ordinance that creates an expedited, streamlined permitting process for small residential rooftop solar energy systems. Cities can adopt the ordinance after the September 30th date; however, they cannot receive solar grants until the ordinance is adopted. Currently, the City has not applied, or is in the process of applying, for any solar grants.

The City must adopt the ordinance mandated by Section 65850.5(g). The attached ordinance is intended to satisfy that requirement. The ordinance codifies the requirements of Section 65850.5, such as requiring the acceptance and approval of applications electronically, directing the City to develop a checklist of all requirements with which small residential rooftop solar energy systems shall comply to be eligible for expedited review, and authorizing the City to administratively approve such applications. There are no direct costs associated with this action and the City’s Building Services provider, 4 Leaf, is able to comply with these mandates.

At its meeting on September 15, 2015, the Council held a public hearing and introduced Ord. No. 624. During public comment a question was asked regarding what is the cost of a building permit for small residential rooftop solar systems. Staff responded that the fee was based on the valuation of the rooftop solar system itself. Staff reviewed our building permit files and the cost ranges around $400 to $450 depending on the size of the system.

ATTACHMENTS:

1. Ordinance No. 624

ORDINANCE NO. 624

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LIVINGSTON AMENDING TITLE 4, "BUILDING REGULATIONS," TO ADD CHAPTER 8, "SMALL RESIDENTIAL SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM REVIEW PROCESS," TO THE LIVINGSTON MUNICIPAL CODE RELATING TO EXPEDITED PERMITTING PROCEDURES FOR SMALL RESIDENTIAL ROOFTOP SOLAR SYSTEMS

WHEREAS, Subsection (a) of Section 65850.5 of the California Government Code provides that it is the policy of the State to promote and encourage the installation and use of solar energy systems by limiting obstacles to their use and by minimizing the permitting costs of such systems; and

WHEREAS, Subdivision (g)(1) of Section 65850.5 of the California Government Code provides that, on or before September 30, 2015, every city, county, or city and county shall adopt an ordinance, consistent with the goals and intent of subdivision (a) of Section 65850.5, that creates an expedited, streamlined permitting process for small residential rooftop solarenergy systems. Cities can adopt the ordinance after the September 301 date; however, they cannot receive solar grants until the ordinance is adopted. Currently, the City has not applied, or is in the process of applying, for any solar grants; and

WHEREAS, solar energy creates local jobs and economic opportunity; and WHEREAS, the City Council wishes to promote the use of solar energy by providing an expedited and streamlined permitting process for small residential rooftop solar energy systems;

and

WHEREAS, rooftop solar energy provides reliable energy at an affordable rate for the City’s residents and businesses.

THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LIVINGSTON DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Amendment of Municipal Code. Livingston Municipal Code Title 4, "Building Regulations," is hereby amended to include Chapter 8, "Small Residential Rooftop Solar Energy System Review Process," to read as follows:

"CHAPTER 4-8 SMALL RESIDENTIAL ROOFTOP SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM REVIEW PROCESS

Sections:

4-8-1 Definitions

4-8-2 Applicability

4-8-3 Solar Energy System Requirements 4-8-4 Permit Review

4-8-1 Definitions

The following words and phrases as used in this section are defined as follows:

(a) "Electronic submittal" means the utilization of one or more of the following:

1. e-mail,

2. the internet; and

3. facsimile.

(b) "Small residential rooftop solar energy system" means all of the following:

1. A solar energy system that is no larger than 10 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating or 30 kilowatts thermal.

2. A solar energy system that conforms to all applicable state fire, structural, electrical, and other building codes as adopted or amended by the City and paragraph (iii) of subdivision (c) of Section 714 of the Civil Code, as such section or subdivision may be amended, renumbered, or re-designated from time to time.

3. A solar energy system that is installed on a single or duplex family dwelling.

4. A solar panel or module array that does not exceed the maximum legal building height as defined by the City of Livingston’s maximum legal building height.

(c) "Solar energy system" has the same meaning set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 801.5 of the Civil Code, as such section or subdivision may be amended, renumbered, or re-designated from time to time.

4-8-2 Applicabi lity

(a) This Ordinance applies to the permitting of all small residential rooftop solar energy systems in the City.

(b) Small residential rooftop solar energy systems legally established or permitted prior to the effective date of this Ordinance are not subject to the requirements of this Ordinance unless physical modifications or alterations are undertaken that materially change the size, type, or components of the small rooftop energy system in such a way as to require new permitting. Routine operation and maintenance or like-kind replacements shall not require a permit.

4-8-3 Solar Energy System Requirements

(a) All solar energy systems permitted under this section and application procedures shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by the state and the City.

(b) Solar energy systems for heating water in single-family residences and for heating water in commercial or swimming pool applications shall be certified by an accredited listing agency as defined by the California Plumbing and Mechanical Code.

(c) Solar energy systems for producing electricity shall meet all applicable safety and performance standards established by the California Electrical Code, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and accredited testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories and, where applicable, rules of the Public Utilities Commission regarding safety and reliability.

(d) Prior to submitting an application, the applicant shall:

1. Verify, to the City’s reasonable satisfaction and at the applicant’s expense, through the use of standard engineering evaluation techniques that the support structure for the small residential rooftop solar energy system is stable and adequate to transfer all wind, seismic, and dead and live loads associated with the system to the building foundation; and

2. At the applicant’s cost, verify to the City’s reasonable satisfaction using standard electrical inspection techniques that the existing electrical system including existing line, load, ground and bonding wiring as well as main panel and subpanel sizes are adequately sized, based on the existing electrical system’s current use, to carry all new photovoltaic electrical loads.

3. All documents required for the submission of a solar energy system application shall be made available on the City’s publicly accessible website.

4. Applicants may submit the required permit application and documents in person at the City’s Building Department or may use electronic submittal.

5. An applicant’s electronic signature shall be accepted on all forms, applications and other documents in lieu of a wet signature.

6. The City’s Chief Building Official is hereby authorized by Council and shall adopt a standard plan and checklist of all requirements with which small residential rooftop solar energy systems shall comply to be eligible for expedited review.

7. The small residential rooftop solar energy system permit process, standard plan(s}, and checklist(s) shall substantially conform to recommendations for expedited permitting, including the checklist and standard plans contained in the most current version of the California Solar Permitting Guidebook adopted by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

8. All fees prescribed for the permitting of small residential rooftop solar energy systems must comply with Government Code Section 65850.55, Government Code section 66015, Government Code Section 66016 and State Health and Safety Code section 17951.

(e) An application that satisfies the information requirements in the checklist, as determined by the City, shall be deemed complete. Upon receipt of an incomplete, application, the City shall issue a written correction notice detailing all deficiencies in the application and any additional information required to be eligible for expedited permit issuance.

4-8-4 Permit Review

(a) For a small residential rooftop solar energy system eligible for expedited review, only one inspection shall be required, which shall be done in a timely manner and may include a consolidated inspection by the Building Official and Fire Chief, or their designees. If a small residential rooftop solar energy system fails inspection, a subsequent inspection is authorized; however, the subsequent inspection need not conform to the requirements of this subsection.

(b) Upon confirmation by the City of the application and supporting documents being complete and meeting the requirements of the checklist, the City shall administratively approve the application and issue all required permits or authorizations. Such approval does not authorize an applicant to connect the small residential rooftop energy system to the local utility provider’s electricity grid. The applicant is responsible for obtaining such approval or permission from the local utility provider.

(c) The City’s review of the application shall be limited to review of whether the application meets all local, state, and federal health and safety requirements.

SECTION 2. CEQA. The City Council hereby finds that adoption of this ordinance does not constitute the approval of a "project" under the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA"), pursuant to Section 15060(c)(2) and (3) and 15061(b)(3) of the State CEQA Guidelines.

Specifically, this ordinance will not result in a direct or foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment, as it does not authorize the construction of any new structures or other physical changes to the environment.

SECTION 3. Severability. If any section, subsection, phrase, or clause of this ordinance is for any reason held to be unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance.

The City Council hereby declares that it would have passed this ordinance and each section, subsection, phrase or clause thereof irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, phrases, or clauses be declared unconstitutional.

SECTION 4. Effective Date. This ordinance shall take effect thirty (30) days after passage thereof.

SECTION 5. Publication. This ordinance shall be published in accordance with the provisions of Government Code section 36933.

Introduced: September 15, 2015

Passed and Adopted: October 20, 2015

RODRIGO ESPINOZA, Mayor

of the City of Livingston

ATIEST:

State of California ) County of Merced ) City of Livingston )

I hereby certify that the foregoing Ordinance was duly introduced at a Regular Meeting of the City Council of the City of Livingston on the 15th day of September, 2015, and was passed and adopted at a Regular Meeting of the City Council of the City of Livingston this 20th day of October, 2015, by the following vote:

AYES:

NOES:

ABSENT:

ABSTAIN:

Antonio Silva, City Clerk of the City of Livingston