While on the job we often hear “Oh, I would love to do solar, but my HOA won’t let me.” This is a common misconception we hear about areas with strict HOA’s. They in fact have little say in you putting solar on your home, and have not had that ability since the late 70’s when the Solar Rights Act (AB 3250, 1978) passed.
The Solar Rights Act guaranteed the right for homeowners to put solar on their home, and no municipality or HOA can restrict you. They can ask you to make it more cosmetically appealing in two ways however.
First, they can ask you for cosmetic improvements to the array costing no more than $1,000. This would include using a good looking mounting system and installing a skirt at the bottom of the array.
Second, they can ask you to put the array somewhere other than the ideal location, if and only it does not limit the production of the array by more than 10%. An example of this might be if they ask you to put the array on an east facing roof instead of south facing. Often times there is no secondary roof area that will fit an array, so this rule is not applicable in many cases.
So if you live in an area with a strict HOA and they are fighting you on your solar project, remember that California law has your rights protected.