Neighbors fight over solar panels

November 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Green technology is creating controversy in San Francisco where neighbors say there's an ugly side to going green. The issue is one couple's solar panels on Page and Baker in the upper Haight. Their neighbors say those panels are not just an eyesore, they are dangerous.

MOST POPULAR: Video, stories and more
SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you from ABC7 News

The owners of a three-unit building in the Upper Haight District had no idea their new $77,000 solar installation on their roof would create so much resentment. They've followed every code and every rule.

"We felt we were doing the right thing. We're very green oriented. We wanted to reduce our CO2 emissions and to have this come up, has been very disappointing," says Doug Kitt, the building owner.

Doug and Karen Kitt showed up before the San Francisco Board of Appeals Wednesday evening to keep their solar project alive. Their neighbors Maureen Gannon and Rohit Verma live behind the Kitts and filed a formal complaint against them. They say ever since the panels went up, their lives haven't been the same.

"We're certainly pro-green technology. What we're talking about out here is simply the protection of our right to enjoy property quietly," says Verma.

Gannon and Verma say the panels obstruct their view, harm the character of the neighborhood, and pose a hazard in the event the panels fly off during high winds. They asked the panels to be tilted lower, but the Kitts say that would require redoing the whole project and they maintain their solar system is safe, which was backed up by a representative of the department of building inspection.

"We found that they were all within reasonable design limits for winds," says Laurence Kornfield from the Department of Building Inspection.

In the end, the Board of Appeals voted unanimously in favor of the Kitts saying there is no safety issue. Plus, they say the goal is to encourage green efforts, not discourage them.

"We're really looking forward to turning it on," says Karen.

"Flipping the switch. We are ready to flip the switch," says Doug.

The Kitts can officially flip the switch when the Department of Building Inspection gives the okay, but that process is expected to go smoothly.

       Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone
Follow us on Twitter | Fan us on Facebook | Get our free widget


Load Comments