Sunnyvale battle over trees, solar energy

July 23, 2008 3:50:40 PM PDT
The chainsaw is buzzing in Sunnyvale on Wednesday morning, but it may not be the final sound in a bitter battle between two neighbors.

They're fighting over the fate of several redwood trees, so tall, they're blocking solar panels.

One of the trees may actually save other trees from the same fate. A state senator is currently working right now to change the law to prevent this kind of conflict from happening again.

In a Sunnyvale neighborhood, a fight between trees and solar panels has finally come to an end ? for now.

"We are for solar; we need some balance in this whole thing. Solar shouldn't just trump trees," said homeowner Richard Treanor.

In this case, the solar panels won, and Richard Treanor must cut one of his redwood trees. The judge also charged Treanor for violating the Solar Shade Control Act of 1978.

The act says that trees could not shade more than 10 percent of sunlight, hitting solar panels during the brightest time of the day.

His neighbor, who installed the solar panels, has been fighting to remove the trees for the last seven years.

He was not home on Wednesday, but he responded to ABC7 News with a statement.

"While I feel bad that a tree has to be cut back, another tree would more appropriate for that location. I will fight to have the other trees removed," said homeowner Mark Vargas.

Treanor is relying on legislation being proposed by State Senator Joe Simitian to save his other trees. The proposed law states that trees planted before solar panels are installed, should be able to stay.

"We are trying to get this redressed, and bring a little sanity and reason and compromise this thing. Unfortunately, I think it will take a lot to bring in and find the final remedy here," said Harrison Feain, a friend of the homeowner.

Some neighborhood boys made one last effort to save the trees.

"We may need electricity, but it doesn't mean we need to cut trees just so we can have our own needs," said one of the kids.

Both of these neighbors do agree that they are for solar power and they are both for trees. Unfortunately in this situation, both of them could not work side by side and this may not be the end of it.

The neighbor with the solar panels said he will continue to take legal action, in hopes of getting rid of the other trees.


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