The following story illustrates the clash of California environmentalists, in this case neighbors fighting over solar panels and redwood trees. (Registration required)
Talk about a clash of cherished green values.
In a case with statewide significance, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office is pursuing a Sunnyvale couple under a little-known California law because redwood trees in their backyard cast a shadow over their neighbor's solar panels.
Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett own a Prius and consider themselves environmentalists. But they refuse to cut down any of the trees behind their house on Benton Street, saying they've done nothing wrong.
"We're just living here in peace. We want to be left alone," said Bissett, who with her husband has spent $25,000 defending themselves against criminal charges. "We support solar power, but we thought common sense would prevail."
The only problem is common sense isn't all that common, particularly in the land of fruits and nuts. In fact, it isn't all that common anymore anywhere in this country. To prove that, take a gander at this:
Their neighbor Mark Vargas considers himself an environmentalist, too. His 10-kilowatt solar system, which he installed in 2001, is so big he pays only about $60 a year in electrical bills. He drives an electric car.
Vargas said he first asked Treanor and Bissett to chop down the eight redwoods, which the couple had planted from 1997 to 1999 along the fence separating their yards. Later, he asked them to trim the trees to about 15 feet.
"I offered to pay for the removal of the trees. I said let's try to work something out," Vargas said. "They said no to everything."
He installed the panels.
So this self-professed green installed his photovoltaic panels knowing ahead of time that his neighbor's trees might block the sunlight on some of his panels. I guess he figured he could bully them after the fact using a little known California law that gives precedence to solar over trees.
The [California Solar Shade Control Act] was written by former Assemblyman Chuck Imbrecht, a Ventura Republican, as a way to guarantee, amid the energy crises of the 1970s, that people who installed solar panels wouldn't see a drop in their investment from nearby trees.
Better they should call it the Law Of Unintended Consequences, which has caused The Clash Of The Environmentalists. Cutting down trees in order to “save” the environment? Priceless!