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Special Use Standards for Solar Systems & Facilities


The purpose of these standards is to enable the siting and permitting of solar electric (photovoltaic) facilities in a manner that minimizes adverse environmental impacts. Provisions for solar energy have been drafted following the state model ordinance developed by the California County Planning Directors Association. These standards apply to all solar energy systems and facilities.

Permit Requirements

Accessory solar energy systems are defined as those that provide energy primarily for on-site uses. These systems are permitted in all zones county-wide for any allowed use with a zoning clearance and building permit. Commercial solar facilities are defined as those that provide energy for off-site use, such as through a power purchase agreement or feed in tariff. Commercial facilities may be allowed with a conditional use permit in certain zoning districts, and will require a Rezone to add the RE (Renewable Energy) Combining Zone within the agricultural and resource zones. General development standards apply to both accessory systems and commercial solar electric facilities.

Development Standards

Roof-mounted systems:

  • Located on legally-established structures
  • Meets fire safe standards for 3-feet access along the roof peak and eaves
  • Height limit of 2’ above roof peak and may exceed height limit of zone by 2’
  • Allowed over any required parking areas
  • May exceed 125% of on-site demand threshold

Ground-mounted accessory systems:

  • Allowed up to 125% of the on-site demand
  • Height limit of 15 feet
  • Setbacks must meet zoning and fire-safe standards
  • May not be placed over leach fields, floodways, sensitive habitat areas or within a public use airport approach or inner turning zones.

Commercial facilities:

  • Subject to the Renewable Energy Facilities General Development Standards
  • Not allowed within the LIA zone
  • Allowed in non-prime agricultural areas (LEA and DA) and resource areas (RRD) only with a Rezone to add the RE Combining District
  • Not allowed on any mapped Important Farmlands
  • Not allowed within Scenic or Biotic Resource areas (SR, BR) unless a protective easement is applied
  • Screening and Design Review are required
  • Decommissioning Plan, site restoration & financial assurances are required

Contact Information

Contact Planning by Phone
Monday – Friday
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.465074, -122.723705

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

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