City bans natural gas in most new construction

Daily Post Staff Writer

The Redwood City Council tonight (Sept. 21) voted to ban natural gas in most new buildings.

The plan, an attempt to curb climate change, was approved unanimously with the council allowing exceptions for hospitals, science labs, restaurants, 100% low-income developments, granny units and factories or hazardous waste facilities that use gas in their work.

Developers who think that their building should be exempt can apply for an exception with the city.

The city followed suit of cities such as Palo Alto, Mountain View and Menlo Park that have banned hooking up new developments to natural gas. Los Altos last night was considering a ban as well.

No one spoke up against the plan last night or at the council’s Sept. 14 meeting. But at the Sept. 14 meeting, resident Joanne Kurz registered a concern — what if there’s a power outage?

“I want to remind people of the rolling blackouts as (utilities) continue to be unable to provide the amount of electricity needed to cool our homes,” Kurz told the council via Zoom video conferencing.

Councilwoman Janet Borgens also expressed some concern over the state’s faulty power infrastructure.

“I have a concern that the grid is not capable of making our policy successful,” Borgens said. “I hope that moving forward … there can be an opportunity for our grid to get updated.”

At the Sept. 14 meeting, Peninsula Clean Energy Director of Energy Programs Rafael Reyes said that there are also infrastructure problems with the supply of natural gas.

The natural gas ban is just one step that the council is taking to fight climate change. Council members Giselle Hale and Ian Bain are working with non-elected city officials on the city’s environmental plan. Earlier this month, a coalition of environmental groups sent the city a letter critiquing the plan, asking that officials ban any development on the city’s salt ponds and to take action to stop sea-level rise, improve stormwater infrastructure and address wildfire risk.

Mayor Diane Howard at the time told the Post that officials are actively adding to the plan, which is slated to appear before the council in a couple of months.