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Solar Panel Policy

The City of Hawthorne supports solar energy because it is abundant, renewable and non-polluting and helps to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

Only a building permit is required for the installation of solar energy systems in Hawthorne, however, the City hopes applicants will be sensitive in the placement of panels to not only achieve an efficient system but to also help preserve the City’s residential character.


Please keep these in mind when designing a system:

  1. If possible, solar collectors should not be installed on a roof surface that faces the street.
  2. Exposed pipes and other material for the system should be of an integral color that does not contrast with the color of the adjacent roof or wall surface. Should integral color not be feasible, it is recommended that the pipes are painted.
  3. Any tree trimming and/or removal that is performed to make the system more efficient should be kept to a minimum.


The installation of solar panels must comply with the requirements of the Hawthorne Municipal Code, which are summarized below:

  1. When mounted on sloped roofs, the uppermost portion of each solar panel shall not exceed the highest point of the roof to which it is mounted, except as required to optimize the system performance (for example, to accommodate tilt angle).
  2. When mounted on flat roofs and all non-roof structures, the lowest portion of the panels shall not be more than 3 feet above the surface to which it is mounted. The uppermost portion of each solar panel shall not exceed the height required to optimize the system performance.
  3. Roof-mounted and other panels mounted at least 10 feet above the ground, measured to the lowest point of each panel, are subject to the setbacks of the applicable zone.
  4. Solar panels mounted lower than 10 feet above the ground, measured to the lowest point of each panel, shall be subject to the setbacks of the applicable zone and shall have an additional 3 feet of setback for each foot below 10 feet.
  5. Placement of solar panels are subject to approval of the Fire Department to ensure access and proper markings to protect the health and safety of fire personnel and the general public.


Building permit plans should include:

  1. A property diagram showing structures and property lines.
  2. A roof plan and/or site plan clearly showing, to scale, the proposed panels and any supporting equipment.
  3. The size, type and location of any trees to be removed or trimmed to facilitate solar access to the system.
  4. A manufacturer’s brochure showing what the panels look like and providing basic specifications.

Please call the Planning Department at 310-349-2970 if there are any questions.

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