Los Altos joins the parade of cities banning natural gas

BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer

Add Los Altos to the list of local cities that plan to ban natural gas in new homes and businesses.

City Council split 3-2 on Tuesday (Nov. 19) in favor of the ban, joining Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View.

In favor of a ban are Councilwomen Jan Pepper, Jeannie Bruins and Neysa Fligor. Against the ban were Mayor Lynette Lee Eng and Councilwoman Anita Enander.

Lee Eng said she thinks residents were not being properly informed about the measure and Enander said she wants more data on the effects of banning gas.

Council heard last night from high school students who are members of the Los Altos Youth Climate Action Team.

Lexi Crilley said the Earth is only a few years from crisis and the council has the opportunity to pass legislation that will impact the world for generations to come. She said electric buildings are safer because gas pipes can leak or explode.

Naomi Schulz said her dream is to become a wildlife photographer, but she won’t be able to do that if the animal species she is interested in go extinct because of climate change.

Reach called an overreach

But some adult residents said they think the ban — called a “reach code” in government jargon — is an overreach of power.

Nancy Phillips said there are other causes of climate change like emissions from trucks making Amazon deliveries and air pollution from planes. She said those were bigger contributors than natural gas.

Bruins said the council can’t control people using Amazon, but they can block natural gas hookups in new buildings.

The council didn’t vote on an ordinance Tuesday night. They felt that the ordinance, drafted by members of the city Environmental Commission, was poorly written. They asked City Manager Chris Jordan to work with the commission on a re-write.

Council indicated it wanted the ban to go into effect in 2020. But they said they don’t want the ban to apply to gas stoves or fireplaces of existing homes if residents remodel their homes.

Berkeley in June banned natural gas appliances in new building in July. In September, Menlo Park partially banned them in new homes. Earlier this month, city councils in Palo Alto and Mountain View passed bans on gas in new structures starting in 2020.

9 Comments

  1. Jan Pepper bullied and pushed the Council into considering the strongest measures possible. She wanted no comments from or outreach to the Los Altos community. (Most likely because it would require additional meetings—which she hates.)

  2. Natural gas is actually worse than coal in terms of global warming gasses. While it may only generate 80% as much CO2 as coal per unit energy delivered, the leaks of methane from well-head to delivery make it worse than coal. Good riddance.

  3. So the Los Altos City Council is taking direction from high school students?
    Where’s the cost v benefit analysis…
    Even if you believe in consequential/catastrophic man made (from C02) climate change, the use of natural gas isn’t a meaningful contributor. And electricity is not only more expensive, but the source of that electricity may emit more C02… also, anyone who likes to cook or bar-b-q knows that a gas range is far superior than an electric one…
    This is the nanny state at its most preposterous overreach…

  4. Good job Los Altos! We needn’t burn things for energy. Get solar panels which can be leased from places like Tesla for $65/mo with nothing down and no commitment. It’s time to go green.

  5. I’m going to be chuckling about this as I go to sleep tonight. Thank you, Post. And I can’t help but add that solar panels require “burning things” to manufacture. Further, and finally, how is it “green” to want all electric when batteries require lithium, the mining of which (and cobalt) is an environmental catastrophe? It’s clear to me that this council’s definition of “green” is nicely summarized in the quote by Jeannie Bruins. This makes me laugh the way I laughed when I watched the Palo Alto train meeting. After 6 years of digging and spending to bury the “green” electrified train, the existing train track will remain exactly where it is for the freight trains. Horns, tragedies and accidents will continue, even after 6 years of expense and inconvenience. Let’s cost ourselves a ton of money to replace appliances and cars so that we can make no difference to the atmosphere or planet whatsoever.

  6. The energy used to create a solar panel is returned in two years of the expected 30 year life of the panel. Current batteries require lithium and cobalt but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. To try an compare the environmental effects of lithium and cobalt mining with oil and gas drilling is ridiculous. Oil and gas extraction dwarfs the environmental impact of the metals mined.

    • There is nothing small about the environmental impacts of metal mining. What’s ridiculous is choosing to worsen a new mess we can’t clean up while we watch the rest of the world worsen the mess we intended to clean up when made the new mess.

    • “doesn’t mean it will always be that way”

      Ah, the magical thinking of environmentalists!

      Yes, and one day we will abandon our cars and ride flying unicorns.

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