As an intermittent gardener, I read this story with some interest. Basically, a California homeowner installed $70k worth of solar panels on his home in 2001, and his neighbor's trees grew to shade them. There is a never-before-used California law that protects a homeowner's right to the sun in just these instances, so the homeowner had prosecutors file charges against his neighbors, and years of legal fighting later, a few of the trees have to come down.
What's interesting is that if the homeowner had dropped a few thousand dollars to put a large patch of, say, organic garden on his property and was growing his own food and maybe donating surplus to area homeless shelters or something, he'd get no consideration from this law. I say that as someone with a large patch I'm going to till soon in a neighborhood of towering pines. I'll do the best I can, but I won't be growing any prize winning veggies out back.
I don't have any solutions or any judgment about, uh, the judgment. This is mostly thinking out loud. If we live close to each other, we're going to trample on each other's toes from time to time.
One really cool detail in the story though: The homeowner with the solar panels drives a plug-in electric car, meaning that he's not only generating energy for the operation of his home, but for the operation of his vehicle too. Those Californians really seem to mean it.