By N. Ferrell
City of Lancaster Adopts Solar Initiative
With the City of Lancaster striving to be the country’s first and only Net-Zero city it takes one more leap toward achieving that goal with The California Energy Commission (CEC) approving the City of Lancaster’s locally adopted energy standards, which will require single family residential units built within Lancaster on or after January 1, 2014 to provide an average of 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar-generated electricity per housing unit. Now being given the permission to enact upon the ordinance, Lancaster is the first city in the nation to make residential solar mandatory. The new ordinance, adopted by the Lancaster City Council on March 26, 2013, was approved by the CEC on December 11, 2013.
With a strong commitment to reduce the City of Lancaster’s carbon footprint, Mayor R. Rex Parris believes Lancaster will be one more step closer to becoming the Alternative Energy Capital of the World, “while advancing green energy alternatives to traditional power resources.” As well as “Requiring solar power assets for new residential construction in the coming years, while providing new home owners with earth friendly and cost effective benefits. The City of Lancaster remains at the forefront of innovative and progressive design and technologies because we realize these are crucial components of any thriving cutting-edge city,” added Mayor Parris. “Our Architectural and Design Commission conducted a comprehensive revision of the City’s previous design guidelines, creating yet another pathway for Lancaster’s future as a thriving community.”
Just after the adoption of the General Plan Update in 2009, City staff started their initial research on the Residential Zones update. An administrative draft was released in June 2011, followed by a public draft in January 2012. After several outreach public hearings were held the Planning Commission adopted Resolution No. 13-01 on January 28 2013, recommending the City Council approval of the City’s Residential Zoning Ordinance. Other zoning code amendments were also included in the resolution.
The ordinance also includes revised development standards, with additional design and performance measures, infill development incentives, accessory dwelling unit requirements, provisions allowing corner duplexes, and live-work provisions of the City’s adopted Housing Element and current State housing law. It was diligently revised to authorize new home builders to meet the aggregate energy generation requirement within a productions subdivision, though solar energy systems do not have to be in every subdivision home.
While implementing more and more solar initiatives, tax breaks and programs to help our stride in the solar revolution, Lancaster will no doubt be at the head of the pack for years to come and for other cities to follow behind.