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Solar Energy Systems in All Zoning Districts

Solar energy systems are permitted in all zoning districts in the City of Brisbane so long as they comply with the development standards of the district. Some small residential rooftop solar energy systems may be eligible for streamlined approval and inspection if they meet certain eligibility requirements. The guidelines below apply to solar energy systems that aren’t eligible for streamlined processing.

Flush-Mounted Rooftop Panels Exempt from Height Limits

Flush-mounted rooftop solar systems are now exempt from building height limits, consistent with Ordinance 622 adopted by the City Council in November. To be considered flush-mounted, the panels may not extend more than twenty-four (24) inches above the roofline of the structure on which they are mounted, measured from the exterior roofing material to the highest point of the panel. Non-flush mounted panels extending more than 24 inches above the roofline are still subject to compliance with the building height limits of the zoning district in which the building is located.

Review Process for Non-Streamlined Applications

If the system meets the zoning district development standards, you may submit a Building Permit application.

Your application must include:

  • Structural drawings and calculations stamped and signed by a California-licensed Civil or Structural Engineer.
  • The type of roof covering and the number of roof coverings installed
  • Type of roof framing, size of members and spacing
  • Weight of panels, support locations and method of attachment
  • Framing plan and details for any work necessary to strengthen the existing roof structure
  • Site-specific structural calculations
  • Documentation showing manufacturer of the rack system, maximum allowable weight the system can support, attachment method to the roof or ground and product evaluation information or structural design for the rack system
  • Architectural elevations demonstrating compliance with building height limits consistent with the City’s standards
  • Plot plan showing the location of the solar system on the structure or property in relation to the property lines

If the system is not flush-mounted (the panels exceed 24 inches above the roofline of the structure), and the height of the panels exceeds the maximum height limit of the zoning district, an Exception Permit from the Zoning Administrator is required before applying for a building permit.

If the solar project is for new residential and non-residential installations, please visit the Solar for New Construction page for additional guidelines.

If the system does not comply with other zoning district regulations, a Conditional Use Permit from the Planning Commission is required prior to issuance of a building permit.  The Conditional Use Permit must be approved, unless the Commission finds that the establishment and use of the system would pose a threat to the public health and safety.


 Questions? Contact the Community Development Department at (415) 508-2120 or email the Planning Department.