Laws, Regulations & Annotations
Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2015
Government Code Provisions
Provisions Relating to Solar-Use Easements
Chapter 6.9. SOLAR-USE EASEMENT*
Article 3. Extinguishment of a Solar-Use Easement
51192.2. Termination fee; county assessor determination of value. (a) If all or a portion of the parcel held in a solar-use easement will no longer be used for the purposes outlined in the easement the landowner may petition the county or city to approve termination of the easement.
(b) Prior to any action by the county or city giving tentative approval to the termination of any easement, the county assessor of the county in which the land is located shall determine the current fair market value of the parcel or parcels to be terminated as though the parcel or parcels were free of the easement restriction. The assessor shall certify to the county or city the termination valuation of the parcel or parcels for the purpose of determining the termination fee. At the same time, the assessor shall send a notice to the landowner and the Department of Conservation indicating the current fair market value of the parcel or parcels as though the parcel or parcels were free of the easement restriction and advise the parties, that upon their request, the assessor shall provide all information relevant to the valuation, excluding third-party information. If any information is confidential or otherwise protected from release, the department and the landowner shall hold it as confidential and return or destroy any protected information upon completion of all actions relating to valuation or termination of the easement on the property. The notice shall also advise the landowner and the department of the opportunity to request formal review from the assessor.
(c) Prior to giving tentative approval to the termination of any easement, the county or city shall determine and certify to the county auditor the amount of the termination fee that the landowner shall pay the county treasurer upon termination. That fee shall be an amount equal to 121/2 percent of the termination valuation of the property.
(d) If it finds that it is in the public interest to do so, the county or city may waive any payment or any portion of a payment by the landowner, or may extend the time for making the payment or a portion of the payment contingent upon the future use made of the parcel or parcels and the parcel or parcels economic return to the landowner for a period of time not to exceed the unexpired period of the easement, had it not been terminated, if both of the following occur:
(1) The termination is caused by an involuntary transfer or change in the use which may be made of the land and the land is not immediately suitable, nor will be immediately used, for a purpose which produces a greater economic return to the owner.
(2) The waiver or extension of time is approved by the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency. The secretary shall approve a waiver or extension of time if the secretary finds that the granting of the waiver or extension of time by the county or city is consistent with the policies of this chapter and that the county or city complied with this article. In evaluating a request for a waiver or extension of time, the secretary shall review the findings of the county or city, the evidence in the record of the county or city, and any other evidence the secretary may receive concerning the abandonment, waiver, or extension of time.
(e) When termination fees required by this section are collected, they shall be transmitted by the county treasurer to the Controller and deposited in the General Fund, except as provided in subdivision (b) of Section 51203 or subdivision (d) of Section 51283.
(f) It is the intent of the Legislature that fees paid to terminate a contract do not constitute taxes but are payments that, when made, provide a private benefit that tends to increase the value of the property.
* Chapter 6.9 was added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 596 (SB 618), in effect January 1, 2012.