California’s Solar Shade Control Act gained some notoriety in 2005 when some homeowners were criminally convicted of a violation, requiring them to prune their trees. As a result the law was revised to eliminate criminal prosecution and make it more workable for homeowners.
The Act provides that, once a solar collector is installed, the neighbors cannot allow any subsequently planted vegetation cast a shadow over more then 10% of the collector surface at any one time between 10:00 am. and 2 pm. (Cal. Pub. Res. Code section 25982.) The Act also provides for a voluntary Notice to be mailed to neighbors containing statutory language regarding the installation of a solar collector, and the requirements of the act. (Cal. Pub. Res. Code section 25982.1.)
Rather than allowing criminal prosecution, the revised Act provides that improper shading is a private nuisance, allowing the homeowner to take civil court action.
If you are a homeowner installing solar, it is a good idea to send the office notice. If you are a homeowner and see your neighbor installing solar, you should photograph your vegetation to document that it was in place before the solar. If you are a homeowner and your neighbor does not yet have solar, get and trees you might want in the ground now; you can always take them out later if you choose, but you can’t plant if the neighbor installs a solar collector.