Santa Clara County - Solar Access Easements

August 09, 2021


In proposed subdivisions where a building configuration has been developed solar access easements shall be designed to protect solar access to proposed south roof and south wall areas and any proposed site for a solar energy system. For those subdivisions that have not been developed, solar access to the southernmost boundary of the buildable portion of a lot shall be protected. In establishing the dimensions of a solar access easement, specific considerations must be made.

In cases where a building configuration is not able to reasonably protect solar access to a proposed south facing element, the advisory agency may require the preparation and dedication of solar access easements as a condition of approval for any subdivision application containing one or more proposed lots under one acre.

Solar access easements shall not be required in cases where the lot that would be benefited is equal to or greater than one acre or where solar access is not available due to either existing vegetation, topography or surrounding development, or where other deed restrictions are sufficient to protect solar access. The establishment of a solar access easement is not intended to result in reducing development densities or reducing the percentage of a lot which may be occupied by a structure, or cause the unnecessary destruction of existing trees.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: Local
Category: Regulatory Policy
State: California
Incentive Type: Solar/Wind Access Policy
Web Site:
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Solar - Passive
  • Solar Water Heat
  • Solar Space Heat
  • Solar Pool Heating


Name: California Solar Rights Act
Name: County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code C12-173.3
Date Enacted: 10/01/1980


Name: County of Santa Clara Department of Planning and Development
Address: 70 West Hedding Street, East Wing, 7th Floor
San Jose CA 95110
Phone: (408) 299-5770
Name: Kirk Girard

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.