Big Steps in Building: Remove Stupid Rules That Are Making It Hard to Go Green

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Even Al Gore had to fight to put solar panels on the roof of his house, taking extra time, money, and a lot of abuse from the right whiners. In fact there are all kinds of zoning bylaws, condo rules, homeowners associations and even building code rules that make it harder to go green. In Arizona, with 300 days of sun per year, they just passed legislation to prevent homeowners associations from stopping solar panel installation. Illinois state Democratic Rep. Karen May, a sponsor of a "solar rights bill" says "If you're going to have local governments and condo associations saying, 'Solar panels are ugly,' that's a real stumbling block."

USA Today tells of one family that wanted to outfit their roof with solar panels. The local homeowners association, the Burke Centre Conservancy, was "flat-out against it" because of worries about how it would look, James Draheim says. His reaction: "You've got this energy just falling on your property and you're not allowed to use it because of aesthetics?"

Now eight states have "solar rights" laws to prevent lower levels of government from restricting the installation of solar power. But even in California, the first state to have such a rule, people are still fighting with buildings departments. Although the law says that local officials can only look at "health and safety" issues, planners in Pismo Beach say that nothing in the rules prevents the City from imposing height limits on solar installations.

In much of the world, every house has a solar water heater; here they are hard to find. No doubt if you went to install one, the local zoning examiner would question its height, the structural examiner would want a load calculation, the plumbing examiner would demand endless calculations and a separate conventional heater just in case the sun went out.

Big Step in Building: Let's have national regulations that remove all restrictions and covenants limiting the installation of solar hot water and photovoltaic systems from housing. ::USA Today