20-0810 PV Canopies in lieu of Plantings in Existing Parking

QUESTION

Our existing building is served by two parking areas - an existing lower lot that was developed as part of our LEED remodel in 2010 (zoning compliant) and an *existing shared* upper parking lot that was developed in the 1950's (not zoning compliant). This upper parking area cannot be modified without triggering a complete zoning upgrade that could jeopardize the viability of the project.
This is a critical consideration relative to LBC requirements for parking areas given that the slope of the existing upper parking lot exceeds current City requirements. The City has agreed that as long as the existing parking configuration remains unchanged the addition of the PV canopies will not trigger a zoning upgrade – this is a generous gift from the City in support of our Net Positive Energy goals that has resulted from our advocacy efforts.
Our team would argue that the proposed PV canopies achieve the goal of breaking down the large parking area into smaller visual components in a more dramatic and effective way than the required plantings would. More to the point, we feel that the proposed canopies better meet the intent of the requirement "to achieve a human scale by dividing up large expanses of paving...[and] to provide opportunities for other benefits such as shading".
We are requesting an exception to the parking lot planting requirement as a result.

ANSWER

Because, based on information provided elsewhere, the project is treating runoff from the area of the solar panels, and because the parking lot is existing and will not otherwise be disturbed as a result of the project, it may substitute solar canopies for planted areas in achieving the Imperative 04 - Human Scaled Living requirement to separate any surface parking area larger than 20m x 30m with planted areas, via the following new Exception:
PL-021 Solar Canopy Separation of Existing Parking
Where the parking is existing, and disturbance of the surface is not otherwise in the project scope, and treatment of the runoff from the area occupied by the solar canopies is provided, solar canopies may be used instead of planted areas to meet the requirement to separate any surface parking area larger than 20m x 30m with planted areas.
Documentation:
I04-a Exception Narrative
A one-to-two-page narrative describing the project’s need for the Exception, the approach to and implementation of the alternative solution, and compliance with Exception intent and requirements.
I04-b Technical Documents
Any official document, statement of policy or code, permit applications, or other documentation that relate to the Exception requirements and document that the Exception requirements have been met. This should include drawings and calculations detailing runoff treatment.
I04-c Photograph, Plans, or Maps
Visual evidence, such as drawings or photographs demonstrating that Exception requirements have been met.
NOTE: This exception was originally published as PL-18 Solar Canopy Separation of Existing Parking. It has been renumbered to PL-021.

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