Legislation scheduled to be heard in the Senate Local Government Committee June 23 attempts to tighten up loopholes in the California Solar Rights Act, including curbing local restrictions on photovoltaic installations, such as the one in Los Gatos, for aesthetic reasons. A bill by Assemblymember Lois Wolk (D-Davis) seeks to broaden the act?s reach and require local jurisdictions to approve permits for PV installations unless they have ?substantial evidence? in writing that shows that the solar power system would cause adverse health or safety impacts. ?It has great legs and made it out of the Assembly without opposition,? said Les Nelson, member of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. ?It is the policy of the state of California to promote and encourage solar energy and remove obstacles to installation,? he added. Solar advocates use Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger?s support for increasing the number of new homes with solar panels as additional ammunition (<i>Circuit<\/i>, May 21, 2004). Nelson?s enthusiasm for the bill is not shared by others, and some expect the issue of how much sway the state holds over solar policy at the local level to be resolved in court. AB 2473 is the second bill by Wolk to address the issue and has faced little opposition from lawmakers. However, like its predecessor that amended the solar act last September, many expect local jurisdictions to continue to exercise their local land-use authority and interpret California?s statutory solar provisions as applying only to homeowners? associations. Neither Los Gatos nor the California Public Utilities Commission has taken a position on the bill, but both are strong proponents of local control. The bill concerns the town because it could eliminate cities? discretion over aesthetic and other community issues, ?which all cities hold very dear,? said Orry Korb, attorney for Los Gatos. Cities should be able to continue to restrict and\/or require modifications to unsightly projects, he added. Akeena Solar, which produces residential and small commercial PV systems, sued Los Gatos in November 2003 for refusing to issue a final permit for its rooftop solar panels for aesthetic reasons. Akeena filed in Superior Court in Santa Clara County after the town council refused to sign off on a building permit. The suit followed the installation of rooftop PV panels, several of them visible from the street. The city insisted the panels be screened, i.e., shaded, to qualify for a final permit. The Los Gatos prohibition is a ?nonstarter,? said Barry Cinnamon, Akeena president. ?If you shade it, it doesn?t work.? Korb said the city?s permit requirements were reasonable. ?I doubt they would significantly affect the efficiency of the system,? he said. The court has not set a briefing schedule, and Cinnamon said the company is open to settlement talks. Korb, however, said the town would defend the suit. ?We are right,? he concluded.