Los Altos to vote on natural gas ban next week

By the Daily Post staff

Los Altos has scheduled a vote on a controversial ordinance to ban natural gas in new homes and businesses for next Monday, Sept. 22.

On Nov. 19, council split 3-2 in favor of the ban with Jan Pepper, Jeannie Bruins and Neysa Fligor supporting the measure while Lynette Lee Eng and Anita Enander were opposed.

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

November’s hearing drew both opponents and supporters of the ban. Supporters said the ban would help stop climate change. Opponents said they doubted the ban would have any affect on climate change and it would raise the cost of construction. In addition, they pointed out that natural gas is a less expensive source of energy than electric.

Resident Nancy Phillips said there are other causes of climate change such as 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 vote in November wasn’t final however. Council members felt the draft by the city Environmental Commission was poorly worded, and they asked City Manager Chris Jordan to re-write it.

The ban would apply to new homes and businesses. It would not apply to gas stoves or fireplaces of existing homes if residents remodel them.

The proposed ordinance includes an exception if an “applicant shows that there is a public or business-related need that cannot be reasonably met with an electric-fueled appliance or piece of equipment.”

Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View have already banned natural gas in new construction.

Silicon Valley Clean Energy, a nonprofit that procures electric power for customers and sends it through PG&E’s lines, supports the measure. The nonprofit is giving Los Altos a $10,000 grant if it puts a “reach code” measure on its council agenda which could the natural gas ban.

The reach code before council next Monday also requires builders to put circuits in new homes that would allow residents to hook up electric vehicle chargers. For commercial buildings, the code would require builders to set aside a certain percentage of parking spaces for EV recharging.

Here’s a link to the proposed ban.

18 Comments

  1. Idiots. The sun doesn’t shine everyday and you can’t turn on your lights with happy feelings. In california they have blackouts constantly because the grid pulls more than the system can generate.

    These people are also uneducated, because the fastest growing source of gas in this country is from landfills, waste water, etc., which is 100% renewable and likely to replace 30% of conventional gas eventually.

  2. I’ve got a bold idea for the city council — instead of telling us what kind of heating system to install, why don’t you let us decide for ourselves. We’re not asking you to make decisions in our personal lives. If I want to save the world by paying more for heating that should be my choice. What are you worried about? I’m sure everybody will see it your way and pick electric over gas. Trust the people who elected you to make the right decision.

    • Well said, completely agree. People know what’s better for them than some one-size-fits-all central planner. Tell these busybodies to mind their own business.

  3. Electric furnaces cost less than gas furnaces. https://www.fixr.com/comparisons/gas-vs-electric-furnace#cQ But that’s where the benefits of electric end. The cost of gas is far less expensive than electric over time, especially in California where electric rates are nearly double what the rest of the country pays.

    Council says this is about the environment, but it’s really just an attempt to keep the cost of new housing high so as to keep undesirable residents out of Los Altos.

  4. Gotta hand it to ultra conservative old world Los Altos residents to question whether or not burning fossil fuels is a good idea in 2020. Have you been outside lately? Like that air? Stop whining and do your part. If you’re building a new house, you can afford a solar array and batteries. Use electric heat and cooking. You’ll be ok.

    • Yeah, the hurricanes, forest fires, etc. are all due to fossil fuels or Trump, right?

      The accumulation of fossil fuels in the atmosphere as a cause of global warming and the end of life on our planet is a political joke, like Covid.

      By the way, CO2 is very beneficial because plants absorb CO2 and give the oxygen needed for our life. It will be a disaster if we lose CO2 from the atmosphere

        • No, but the earth is much greener now thanks to increased CO2 in the atmosphere which stimulates plant and tree growth. Agricultural prices are lower, and with food being more abundant.

      • Get with the times, dude. Your sad far-right arguments were debunked a decade ago. Colleges still accept applicants if you missed the whole education boat.

        • Alex and Sam, the markets don’t lie. Natural Gas prices have been dropping. Electric rates are going up. For a consumer, the choice is easy. You can belittle people all you want for not supporting the Green New Deal, but it’s difficult enough for middle-income people to survive here without forcing them to use a more expensive energy source. Leave people alone and let them make their own choices. It’s called freedom, something all Americans used to believe in.

  5. As a Los Altos resident, I think this decision is a bad idea. Every year we keep having power outages, either because of heat, fires or winter storms. Solar can only do so much, especially during prolonged smoky days, when you cannot even recharge your Powerwall batteries. Having no backup energy source to use to cook your food during an outage is a bad idea.

  6. Isn’t the last few months present a good live example to consider (no sun rays can pass through the layers of fog and smoke, and blackouts)? Solar energy conduits will not sustain your habits to eat warm food, air-condition when it’s too hot, use a heater when it’s too cold, and have lights on on demand. That’s science. Ofcourse you can always use flashlight for light in your rooms, and matches to warm up your food.

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