HOW HOA BOARDS CAN AVOID A SOLAR FREE FOR ALL By Larry Isen C alifornia Assembly Bill 634 went into law on January 1, 2018, and all the managers in San Diego collectively rolled their eyes as they wondered what kind of mess this new law would create. There’s a good reason for concern. To no one’s surprise, the law is extremely poorly written and sets HOA boards up for what could become a solar free-for- all in their communities. The roofs of all multi-unit buildings in a community have always been the property and responsibility of the HOA. Hence, owners of individual units have never been able to install solar systems on their respective chunk of roof. Under AB 634, owners can no longer be prevented from installing solar panels. But- there’s a big problem in the language of the law. In concert with a law firm specific to Common Interest Developments, here is a possible solution to the language “Equitable Allocation” found in AB 634. The phrase “Equitable Allocation” can be found 28 | SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY INSIDER SUMMER 2018 in Section 3, (1) B. The phrase references dividing up the roof of a multi-unit building so that each owner has their fair percentage share of roof for solar panels. The vagueness of the process for determining equitable allocation could lead to total chaos. AB 634 prohibits HOAs from denying owners the right to install solar panels on their section of roof as long as applicants meet the following criteria: 1. Applicants must notify each owner of a unit in the same building. 2. Applicants must maintain a liability policy against any damage that might be done to a roof on which a solar system is installed. 3. The Applicant must submit a solar site survey showing the placement of the solar energy system prepared by a licensed contractor, or the contractor’s registered salesperson knowledgeable in the installation of solar energy systems to determine usable solar roof area.