SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — San Jose became the biggest U.S. city to ban natural gas in new construction projects as the city council unanimously approved the proposal Tuesday evening.
The so-called reach code targets appliances that use natural gas–stoves, water heaters and furnaces in buildings. The city says these appliances accounts for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions.
The passed ordinance will ban natural gas in the construction of new accessory dwelling units, new single family homes and new low rise and multifamily buildings.
Multifamily buildings would be required to have 20% of parking spaces ready for electric vehicles, with 70% pre-wired and ready to go.
San Jose has the highest number of electric vehicles per capita in the country.
Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, who just bought a plug-in hybrid, said the city’s tens of thousands of apartment dwellers need a place to charge their cars.
“If you don’t have the infrastructure to plug in your vehicle, then you’re going to be dissuaded from buying an electric car,” Carrasco said.
The new ordinance will not affect commercial buildings, but there are incentives for them to go electric, such as fee and tax reductions.
Councilmember Johnny Kamis has gotten an earful from developers who tell him they’re worried about the increased cost of construction.
“If it raises costs, and it’s going to be cheaper to live somewhere else, people will continue to move out of places where they can live near their jobs and commute longer hours, and that can actually detriment the environment because we have more cars on the road,” he said.
Kimi Narita with the Natural Resources Defense Council says San Jose will be proof to other cities that they can go electric, too.
“Buildings last for decades. So what we build now matters for generations,” Narita said.
Tuesday’s event, which was well attended by environmentalists, was billed as an “antidote to Trump” and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo did not hesitate to call out the president.
“This a bit of antidote to probably some announcement being made today by our Chief Executive, wherever he may be in the Bay Area. We are showing through community leadership how we can confront this climate crisis,” he said.
Mother Out Front, a grassroots environmental activist group, also had a message for President Trump.
“Mr. President, please get with the program. The people in this country need clean energy, our children and grandchildren need you to step up and move to the future,” said Susan Butler-Graham of MOF.