West Coast Region County-level Agrisolar Policy
|Yolo County Zoning Regulations
|San Luis Obispo County Code
|2011 amended 2016 and 2020
|Small accessory use solar energy system are greater than 2.5 acres and no larger than 7.5 acres.
|Tier 1 SEF If a proposed SEF is 20 acres or less, is not located on Prime Farmland, and has previously developed for industrial or commercial purposes and degraded or contaminated and then abandoned or underused.
|Medium-sized solar energy system shall mean a private on-site or utility solar energy conversion system occupying more than 7.5 acres and no more than 30 acres of land, and that will be used to produce utility power to onsite uses and/or off-site customers. Medium-sized solar energy system generates 1 MW or less.
|Tier 2 SEF If a proposed SEF is 40 acres or less, is not located on Prime Farmland, and is ground-mounted; and located in urban areas, or located in rural areas on sites designated as Commercial Service (CS) or Industrial (IND).
|“Large-scale solar energy system” shall mean a utility solar energy conversion system occupying more than 30 acres of land, and that will be used to produce utility power to off-site customers. A large or utility solar energy system has a total generation capacity of more than one (1) megawatt.
|Tier 3 SEF If a proposed SEF is greater than 40 acres or does not meet the criteria for Tier 1 or Tier 2 SEFs and is not located on Prime Farmland.
|Solar Allowed on Which Zoning Designations
|Accessory solar energy system (2.5 to 7.5 acres) allowed on all zoning designations.
Medium-sized solar energy system (7.5 to 30 acres) allowed on A-N, A-X, A-I, all commercial and industrial designations, and Public and Quasi-Public (PQP) zones. Not allowed on Residential, A-C, A-R, and Public Open space zones. Large-scale solar energy system (> 30 acres) allowed on A-N, A-X, A-I, all industrial and Public and Quasi-Public (PQP) zones. Not allowed on Residential, Commercial, A-C, A-R, and Public Open space zones.
|Tier 1 SEF are an allowable use, subject to the land use permit required by the specific use standards on all zoning EXCEPT Residential, Suburban, Residential, Single-Family, Residential, Multi-Family, Open Space, Recreation land uses.
Tier 2 and Tier 3 SEF are an allowable use, subject to the land use permit required by the specific use standards on Agriculture, Rural Lands, and Residential, Rural land uses.
Tier 2 – Tier 3 SEFs are allowable up to 20 acres in size when proposed on parcels in the Residential, Single-Family (RSF); Residential, Multi-Family (RMF); or Residential, Suburban (RS) land uses.
Tier 2 SEF are an allowable use, subject to the land use permit required by the specific use standards on Commercial, Retail, Commercial, Service, Industrial, and Public Facilities Land Uses. Tier 3 SEF are an allowable use, subject to the land use permit required by the specific use standards on Commercial, Service, Industrial, and Public Facilities Land Uses.
|Solar on Agricultural Lands
|Medium-sized and large-scale solar energy systems are encouraged to locate on predominantly non-prime farmland and non-Williamson Act contracted land, as feasible. Any medium-sized solar energy system that locates on prime farmland or farmland under Williamson Act contract shall require a Minor Use Permit. All utility solar energy systems shall mitigate for the permanent loss of agricultural land
|SEFs shall not be sited on designated Prime Farmland. Where proposed on parcels with Prime Farmland, the SEF shall be sited on other areas of the parcel. If a proposed project demonstrates dual-use design measures that ensure the long-term productivity of agricultural uses on site, or protects Important Agricultural Soils through other means, the project is allowable without an open space easement through a Conditional Use Permit in consultation with the Agriculture Department.
|Small accessory use system can be permitted through the issuance of a Building Permit and Site Plan Review, provided the application meets the Development Standards. The Site Plan Review approval is ministerial (not discretionary) and does not require a public hearings. Medium-sized solar energy systems may be approved through Site Plan Review if the facility is located on non-prime farmland that is not under a Williamson Act contract. Any medium-sized solar energy system that is located on prime farmland or on land that is enrolled in the Williamson Act shall require the issuance of a Minor Use Permit.
Large-scale solar energy systems occupying no more than 120 acres of land may be approved through the issuance of a Major Use Permit by the Planning Commission. Large-scale solar energy systems greater than 120 acres requires approval from the Board of Supervisors, following a recommendation from the Planning Commission
|Tier 1 SEF is 20 acres or less shall require Site Plan Review or Minor Use Permit.
Tier 2 SEF is 40 acres or less shall require a Minor Use Permit or proposed projects that are 40 acres or less and located in the Renewable Energy (RE) Combining Designation may be eligible for Site Plan Review.
Tier 3 SEF shall require a Minor Use Permit where allowable
|Solar Energy Facility Application Requirements
|Application Requirements for site or use permits:
i) Name and address. The name, address, and signature of the applicant and, for privately initiated, property-specific applications, the name, address, and signature of the property owner
ii) A statement of the proposed new construction or use
iii) A Site or Plot Plan
iv) A statement from the applicant that the proposed project is consistent with the General Plan text and maps
v) A statement from the applicant that he or she has read the Design Guidelines that apply to the project and the project has been designed to be as consistent with the Guidelines as is feasible
vi) Other documents, drawings, and plans as required by the Director
vii) A fee shall be submitted
|Minor Use Permit or Site Plan Review Requirements:
i) Preliminary floor plan
ii) Architectural elevations
iii) Adjacent land use information within 100 feet of the site
iv) Landscape plan
v) Contour map vi) Supplementary development statement
vii) Reduced drawings
viii) List of names and addresses of all owners of property located within 300 feet of the perimeter of the parcel to be developed, accurate as of the day the application is filed with the County
|Ground-mounted solar facilities shall meet the height limit requirements of the zone in which they are located, except that auxiliary equipment may exceed this limit
|15 feet height restrictions for Residential, Open Space, Recreation, and Public Facilities land use.
45 feet height restrictions for All Other Land Use Categories.
Ground-mounted SEFs shall be located a minimum of 18 inches from the ground to allow wildlife movement and line of sight for wildlife.
|Solar uses shall require a minimum 100-foot buffer from riparian corridors.
Medium-sized solar energy systems shall meet the front, rear, and side yard setback requirements of the zone in which they are located, with the following exception: in agricultural zones, the setbacks shall be at least 50 feet from all property lines.
Large-scale solar energy systems must be setback at least 50 feet from any property line.
Utility solar energy systems shall be located no closer than 100 feet from any residential dwelling on an adjacent property.
|Tier 1 and Tier 2 SEF: Setback of 25 to 30 feet on all sides in rural, urban, and village areas.
Tier 1 and Tier 2 ground-mounted solar electric facilities that are 40 acres or less in size shall be set back from all adjacent parcels in a Residential land use category 10 feet more than the minimum setbacks.
Tier 3 SEF: Setback of 100 feet on all sides.
|All SEFs shall use nonreflective surfaces that minimize glare to the greatest extent feasible. Rotating SEFs shall have tracking system design and shall not create concentrated reflections directed at occupied structures, recreation areas, Sensitive Resource Areas, or public roads.
|A soil erosion and sedimentation control plan, including revegetation plan.
|N/A but does have specific language to protect soil for the purpose of dual use.
|No explicit requirement for fencing, but screening may be required as seen in vegetative barrier
|Screening / Vegetative Barrier
|A utility solar energy system shall have a visual buffer of native vegetation that provides a visual screen to reduce the view of the solar energy system from residences on adjacent lots, including those lots located across a public right-of-way. Solar energy systems proposed to locate in a designated scenic corridor shall require visual screening.
|SEFs requiring a discretionary permit shall be sited for screening from residences, Sensitive Resources Areas for visual resources, and areas subject to Highway Corridor Design Standards. Screening measures shall use existing site characteristics to the greatest extent feasible, including existing vegetation and natural topography. Where a project cannot be sited to provide adequate screening, the project shall provide additional screening such as landscaping, or wildlife-friendly fencing.
|Decommissioning / Reclamation Plan
|Unless otherwise approved by the County, decommissioning shall begin no later than 12 months after a medium-sized or large-scale solar energy system has ceased to generate electricity. Within six months of the beginning of decommissioning, the solar energy system and all structures associated with it shall be removed, all materials shall be recycled or otherwise reused to the extent reasonably practicable, and the property shall be returned to its condition prior to the installation of the solar energy system or to some other condition reasonably appropriate for the designated land use.
|Decommissioning and restoration. A decommissioning and restoration plan shall be submitted that includes the removal of all facility elements and reclamation of the site. Plans shall address: removal of all facility elements and reclamation of the site including, but not limited to, evaluation of adjacent grasses and vegetation, soil preparation, seed/crop planting, and watering and fertilization (if necessary). Removal and restoration shall also address all facility elements, including but not limited to, solar modules, trackers, tracking, posts, power station electrical equipment, underground conduits and cables, concrete pads, fences, security lighting, and access road gravels.
|Decommissioning / Reclamation Bond
|The permit application for any energy-generating facility except for Tier 1 SEF, Tier 1 WECS, and accessory energy-generating facilities shall include a cost estimate of the decommissioning work with the decommissioning and restoration plan required by Subsection 22.32.040.A, for review by the County or qualified third-party consultant approved by the County. A bond shall be posted in the amount identified in the cost estimate prior to issuance of any construction permits.