As work on Alameda County’s solar policy remains underway, Supervisors David Haubert and Nate Miley’s consideration of a solar project moratorium is appropriate.
In recent Transportation and Planning subcommittee meetings, the two elected officials have questioned whether the county should even entertain applications for projects while elected officials are still contemplating the rules. If the two believe a moratorium is necessary until a county policy is complete, they must take this proposal to the full Board of Supervisors for consideration.
We strongly encourage these supervisors to take that next step and, as Miley has suggested, allow for the proper amount of time to get it right. A moratorium prevents approving or considering a project that could end up being inconsistent with a future policy.
We need this clock-stopper, as there are many unresolved issues pertaining to the policy’s creation.
For instance, will landowners be permitted to remain under the Williamson Act if they lease their land to solar companies instead of using it to ranch? This question is still hotly debated among landowners themselves. Some wonder why a rancher who’s receiving taxpayers’ dollars should continue benefiting from public funds if they’re no longer using the land for ranching. Others feel that agricultural folks shouldn’t be punished for adding value to their property.
Land-use designations is another topic entirely; it too hasn’t been resolved.
Then factor in the environmental review, mapping, public workshops, whether or not a consultant should be hired to help, how long it should all take…
The county shouldn’t be in the position of reviewing applications until it has addressed unanswered questions pertaining to solar projects. The supervisors can choose a moratorium that lasts anywhere from 45 days to 2 years — it can be based upon our region’s needs. If it takes a pause of six months or so to make sure we get this policy right, that’s time well spent.
Miley and Haubert are on the right track.