South City to Ban Natural Gas | Local News
Officials in southern San Francisco have begun examining ways to limit the city’s dependence on natural gas by discussing a new policy requiring all new residential construction to be run on electricity only.
The Southern San Francisco Planning Commission considered on Thursday, May 6, the establishment of access codes that would prohibit natural gas connections to future residential developments, continuing a trend of similar discussions across the peninsula.
While most were generally in favor of the proposal, there was some sensitivity around the implementation of the plan that officials carefully crafted to ensure the new standards did not slow future growth.
To that end, officials noted that the potential ban would only apply to future construction and that existing buildings would be allowed to retain their natural gas connections. In addition, they limited the need to residential construction, due to concerns raised by members of the local commercial sector who preferred electricity to natural gas.
Carefully attempting to balance the issue, Director of Economic and Community Development Alex Greenwood assured everyone in the community that their views would be considered on the issue.
“It’s a complicated exchange,” he said.
No decision was made on the issue at the meeting, and ultimately an upcoming vote on the natural gas ban will be left to the South San Francisco City Council. But board members in January said they were in favor of the change and called for starting the process.
When it comes to residential developments, officials looked at the types of ways in which a shift to all-electric construction would require a deviation from the industry standard. Most home builders, especially those who specialize in apartment building, have already started relying on electricity to power buildings alone, an expert from Peninsula Clean Energy said.
While most building infrastructure can be converted to electricity relatively easily, officials have recognized that water heating technology for large developments is even more efficient when powered by natural gas.
As they sought to enforce the natural gas ban on apartment building development standards, officials also considered an opportunity to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations needed with the new construction.
To further limit local dependence on fossil fuels, the switch to codes is often accompanied by increased investment in electric vehicle infrastructure integrated into new residential developments.
Commissioner JulieAnn Murphy noted, however, that residential developers frequently seek reductions in the number of parking spaces they must build and that this interest must be taken into account alongside the city’s efforts to improve access to charging stations. for electric vehicles.
Additionally, Commissioner Alex Tzang noted that switching to electric appliances instead of natural gas burners will not work for Chinese residents or those who use a traditional round wok while cooking.
“It will kick the user out of the wok,” he says.
Those familiar with the change have noted the advancements in induction cookware, which most home chefs find a suitable replacement for traditional stovetop materials designed for a natural gas burner. But business options for restaurants are lagging behind residential innovation, which is one reason businesses and the food industry are exempt from the ban.
Additionally, companies in the city’s biotech sector have said the ban on natural gas will hamper operations, further motivating officials to limit the restriction to only new residential developments.
As southern San Francisco progresses through the process of establishing the ban, the city is the latest in a series of other communities on the peninsula where natural gas connections have been cut or restricted.
Berkeley became the first city in the country to ban natural gas in new construction in July. There are nearly 35 local towns that have explored approved scope codes of various types, including San Mateo, Redwood City, and unincorporated segments of San Mateo County. Because local authorities may come up with ordinances that are stricter than the state’s energy and green building codes, the policies are called “access codes.”
While the commissioners devoted much of their conversation to discussing the details of the code, community members universally favored the transition as an indication of the city’s commitment to progressive environmental policy.
“We can no longer delay action,” said Diane Bailey, executive director of environmental policy nonprofit Menlo Spark.