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Santa Clara County - Zoning Ordinance (California)

Savings Category 
Program Info
Program Type 
Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County's Zoning Ordinance includes standards for wind and solar structures for residential, agricultural, and commercial uses.

Commercial Wind Structures

Commercial-scale wind systems must be setback from property lines by a distance equal to the height of the tower plus the radius of the blades. The structure must also be placed in such a manner to minimize its overall visual impact, may not obstruct the view for neighbors, and must be colored to help the structure blend into the surrounding environment. Lettering and graphics are not permitted on wind systems, and the system should not subject neighbors to excessive noise. The base of the structure must be protected to prevent climbing.

Commercial Solar

Commercial solar systems must be set back from property lines by at least 30 feet. Signage that is visible from a public road is limited to 2 signs of no more than 200 aggregate square feet, and may only include information identifying the manufacturer, installer, owners and public health and safety information. Construction, design, and operation of the facility must minimize soil disturbance and drainage. If use of the equipment is discontinued, the equipment must be removed from the site and recycled to the extent possible.

Residential/Agricultural Small Wind Structures

Wind structures in residential and agricultural areas are limited to 50 kW per customer site. Structures must be set back from all property lines by a distance equal to the height of the system plus the radius of the blades. On parcels between one and five acres, the height of the system may not exceed 80 feet. Parcels of five or more acres may have towers of up to 100 feet. Noise from the system cannot exceed 60 decibels or the maximum noise level allowed by other applicable laws. The base of the structure must be secured and enclosed to prevent climbing, and lighting may only be used for security and aviation safety.

Residential/Agricultural Solar

Solar systems may be placed on any portion of the lot other than within the front yard setback applicable to the principal structure. Solar panels attached to the roof may not exceed the the structure's maximum height by more than five feet.