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Right to Sun Lawsuit WON! First of Many?

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 03/26/2008 in
Updated 01/20/2017
Solar Tree Lawsuit

The Solar Vs Tree battle grows!

The Mercury news wrote this great article (I call it “great” because the first word is “smackdown”).

Here is’s 15 second eat-and-run version:

Couple A puts solar panels up (lots of them)

Couple B plants redwood trees next door (tall ones).

Couple A demands Couple B cut down trees ’cause they block sun. No dice.

Couple A sues Couple B and wins under “Solar Shade Control Act” of 1978

Couple B chops down some of the trees

I thought that the fine for violation is pretty incredible, $1000/day the trees are not chopped down.  Wow!

With so many big lawsuits going around such as xarelto class action. We here at are obviously a little biased towards solar and happy about this new case law, but for the people taking the trees’ side of things, there is good news.  Senator Joe Simitian is probably gonna get through a bill that would change the law to something where, “whoever gets there first, wins” be that trees or solar. Honestly, as much as I love solar, I think that sounds fair.


Last modified: January 20, 2017

6 thoughts on “Right to Sun Lawsuit WON! First of Many?

  1. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    What about if your neighbor decides to add a 2nd story and that would result in shading my solar panels on my roof?

  2. Avatar for Kevin T. Keith Kevin T. Keith says:

    A few random thoughts:

    – Bonzai-ing a redwood tree may not be very practical.

    – “Getting there first” is one thing, but the problem with trees is that they get bigger. Whether a certain tree blocks your sun depends in part on what kind of tree it is, how well it grows in that location, and how willing your current and future neighbors are to trim it. There needs to be some kind of provision for future expectations as well.

    – There’s a long-standing legal doctrine called “ancient lights”, holding, essentially, that if you have always had a certain view from your property, your neighbors can’t block it by building in front of it. That seems to be equivalent to “whoever gets there first”.

  3. Avatar for XXVII XXVII says:

    i fully believe that couple B should have consult with couple A before doing something as stupid as planting a large tree indiscriminately i love trees and i love solar .. but c’mon.. isn’t there a way for them (both couples) able to work together? maybe making the solar “shelf” higher?

  4. Avatar for David Llorens David Llorens says:

    I believe that is acceptable…. In the verdict there was some percentage shading that was acceptable.

  5. Avatar for Leslie @ the oko box Leslie @ the oko box says:

    Why can’t they just keep the trees “shaped” but not entirely chopped down – or bonsai them on a large scale somehow encouraging the branches to grow out instead of up ;) Might end up being really beautiful and unique!

  6. Avatar for dean dean says:

    “whoever gets there first, wins” sounds fair to me too. In this case I believe the trees were there first so they should win, albeit I love solar too. But does cutting down trees help the environment?

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