Monday, April 07, 2008


Redwoods - The Dark Side

Ronald Reagan was right when he noted that trees are a problem with respect to global warming. Back then trees were known polluters, but it was not yet clear that shady situations were a crime in California. As governor, he opposed expansion of redwood forests, pithily stating “A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?” And this was before the shade problem.

Under the 1978 California Solar Shade Control Act, it is a crime to let your trees cast a shadow on your neighbor’s rooftop solar panels. That is just what Carolynn Bissett (no, not that one) did to her neighbor Mark Vargas with her eight redwoods (a k a Tree No. 1, Tree No. 2, etc.). In the judgment of the California legislature, redwoods may be somewhat green, but solar panels are greener.

Last December Bissett was convicted in the first prosecution under the Solar Shade Act. The judge found that Trees 4, 5, and 6 were not shading the panels when the panels were installed, but instituted their shading post panel, in contravention of the Act. The judge therefore sentenced all three to be pruned. Trees 1, 2, and 3 were already shading the area, so their shade was there first, thus prima facie they were acquitted, as were trees 7 and 8 which were not involved in the shading at all. As an indication of how tricky this can be, since not only do trees grow, but the sun moves around, the judge deferred adjudication of the adequacy of the pruning of tree 6 (shown left) until the winter solstice. At that point, December 21st, the sun will be lowest in the sky and tree 6 involved in casting the maximum shadow.

Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites
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