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Friday, September 30, 2016

City Council takes up Montecito Heights solar panels *

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The City Council is scheduled today to review a request by Councilman Ed Reyes to halt the installation of  more than 1,400 solar panels across a Montecito Heights hillside. Reyes submitted the motion last week as workers began installing some of the panels that will fill an area the size of a football field on property owned by Broadview nursing home, which said it received all the necessary permits to build the solar array. Reyes, at the urging of nearby residents, said he wants the work halted to examine concerns about safety.

Update: The City Council voted to hold the motion one more day for consideration. Several residents spoke against the panels and Councilman Reyes focused his comments on concerns over glare and fire safety. He and other council members also voiced  their concern about state law that limits the ability of cities to review and impose restrictions on solar energy projects.

Photos by Martha Benedict

Related posts: Blowing a fuse over solar panels. L.A. Times
Montecito Heights solar panel project sparks debate. ABC7

Montecito Heights solar project leaves some residents blindsided.
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13 comments

  1. “. . . concerns about safety”?!?! Give me a break. That’s as bad as the attempts to halt the Expo bike path because of concerns about its “environmental impact.”

    There’s such a thing as too much process, and the LA NIMBYs are taking full advantage.

  2. What a joke Reyes is. He’s anti solar because a couple people don’t like the way the panels look?
    It’s hard to believe that such simple minds are holding the reins to LA’s future…

  3. I drove by today on the 110 and this opposition is a joke. It is barely visible from the freeway so that argument is bunk and the hillside is not a tree covered wonderland, rather its covered in short weeds. This is just a bunch of Nimbys who are wasting our time. How about outting your efforts to beautify the neighborhood by removing graffiti, undergrounding telephone poles and removing all billboards.

  4. Solar panels absorb sunlight, not reflect it, hence they do not cause glare. I can’t even believe how stupid this is.

  5. @ Chris L
    IIRC, the PV’s are typically sandwiched between two layers of glass, polycarbonate, or something similar. That will reflect sunlight. Of course, if the panels track the sun well, that reflection should be right back at the sun.

  6. Solar panels are covered in glass so they will reflect about 4% of incident light. That may not seem like a lot but think of the reflection of the sun in another car’s windshield. It is annoying. The residents around these arrays are right to voice their concerns. A little analysis and sane thinking would allay much of their concern.

    For most of the day the sunlight is reflected harmlessly into the sky from a generic array. In the evenings and mornings it is possible to get a reflection at ground level but more often than not either the sun is blocked by nearby structures, like the hill it is mounted on, or it bounces harmlessly into the hill. I believe this IS the case for the Montecito Heights array. Without the precise details of this array I can’t say for sure but I would bet a fair amount of money that the residents will never see glare off the array.

    To associate this with a safety issue or to imply that solar arrays need additional oversight is irresponsible. Do we need to stop the sale of any new car until the “glare issue” is resolved. Think!

  7. Good point about the trackers.

  8. I live next to this hill, I drive by it every day. It is not exactly The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music. It is a perfect location for solar panels. It will show off our neighborhood to be progressive and forward thinking. All permits have been applied for and approved. This project has been given the green light after what must have been a very arduous vetting process. But wait! Here’s Ed Reyes, riding in on his horse to save us from … the glare! Now it has been shown that the glare would be minimal and in fact at certain times of the day even attractive. Obviously, any glare would be 1/100,000,000 of the glare reflected from most of the new buildings downtown. So what gives? Simple: it’s a mediocre politician’s opportunity to grandstand and waste everyone’s time and money. I hope it backfires. I for one will do all I can to make sure that Ed Reyes is never again elected to anything.

  9. I think the array is hideous. It destroys the line of the natural slope of a hill that frames the San Gabriel Mountains and it will reflect glare on the surrounding neighborhood compared to grass. I applaud Ed Reyes for taking this issue to task. All you folks that are saying NIMBY, wait until a lovely hillside in your Echo Park / Silver Lake area becomes festooned with similar arrays. I can’t wait to hear your reaction. Having solar panels allowed next to Debs Park will surely help pave the way to getting more next to Elysian and Griffith Parks in our near future. “Green” is not always a good thing for a community.

  10. @EPMA,

    I’m so sorry that your framed view of the San Gabriel mountains would be tampered with by this project. I don’t have such a view from my deck (I also don’t have a deck) so I can’t really say that I would be losing anything if this project went forward. As for your statement that green is not always a good thing for a community, I suppose from your perspective that is probably true. Property values trump saving the planet anytime.

  11. Shaun-

    I live in Echo Park and do not have a view of the Montecito Heights hillside. Driving along the historic Arroyo Seco Parkway this array is seen by a larger population other than the local residents. As stated before, it sets a precedent for even more insensitive installations next to residential neighborhoods and city parks. Open space is more valuable to me than an obnoxious “green” energy project. Roof top solar installations are much less intrusive to a community.

  12. Interesting, I just had a conversation about the energy production of the Palm Springs area windmills vs. their aesthetic impact on the landscape. I have always been kind of thrilled by them, and exhilarated by the project, even though I love the Palm Springs mountain scape when I’m lucky enough to visit. Same thing here in my own neighborhood. I am thrilled to see this solar project underway in my own backyard, even though I love the view of the hills along the Arroyo. This is an urban environment. The San Gabriels are still out there, (when the smog isn’t too thick!), we still have more trees and natural vistas in this neighborhood than many parts of the city. We have to think long term on this issue. We are fools if we hold up progress on clean energy because it impacts our view. I’ll be looking for the city council’s decision on this, and making my pro-solar panels position known to my councilman Ed Reyes.

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