Cable news recently ignited with talk of a nationwide ban on gas stoves, but Encinitas has been playing with the idea since 2021.
Encinitas was the first city in the county, and one of only a few in Southern California, to implement a ban on gas-powered stoves, heaters, clothes dryers and other appliances in new residential and commercial construction.
The policy doesn’t extend to existing buildings and homes. But it does require replacing gas appliances whenever existing homes or buildings undergo significant remodels and renovations.
Crystal Najera, the city’s sustainability manager, said the policy has received backlash from some residents and developers since its conception.
“Generally, applicants are not super thrilled with some of the requirements, especially the electrification,” Najera said. “I think the biggest pushback area is regarding electrification of cooking appliances … that one seems to be something that people have more feelings about.”
The City Council adopted the ordinance in October 2021, but it didn’t go into effect until August 2022 because it was waiting approval from the California Energy Commission, Najera said.
It was part of a larger set of climate goals related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and building decarbonization.
The policy has, in practice, been in place for about four months, so the city only recently started collecting data from developers and residents. But anecdotally, Najera said, it’s been an adjustment.
“The criticism has been fairly consistent from the beginning,” Najera said. “I think there were concerns early on, and now that it’s effective, we still hear continued concerns.”
The idea of getting rid of gas-powered stoves has garnered backlash from homeowners, restaurant owners and the California Restaurant Association, who has said a widespread shift from gas-powered stoves to electric stoves would dramatically impact the restaurant industry.
Najera said, the city is conducting more public outreach to educate residents on induction cooking options and other ways to adapt to the change.
Additionally, restaurants that demonstrate they need to cook with a gas-powered stove can qualify for an exception. Restaurants that receive an exception have to implement other methods to reduce the gas-powered appliance’s greenhouse gas impacts.
In Encinitas, opponents of the ordinance have also raised concerns that moving toward all-electric buildings could make Encinitas more expensive and discourage new development.
But the San Diego Building Electrification Coalition, a partnership of local environmental and public policy groups, argues all-electric homes generally cost less to build because they have no gas piping systems and are more affordable to operate.
Encinitas conducted cost-effectiveness studies before introducing the ordinance, Najera said, and found building electrification is more cost-effective than using natural gas in homes and buildings.
It’s still unclear just what kind of impact the ordinance will have on the coastal city, as much of it is already built out and doesn’t see a lot of new construction due to its relatively strict building policies.
But the city has several housing developments being built that are currently going through the review process, Najera said, and there are a fair amount of remodels that will trigger the new policies.
The national debate about building electrification, or the banning of gas-powered appliances, started after the publication of recent studies linking harmful emissions and health issues to the natural gas used to power appliances in people’s homes and workspaces.
A study published last month said gas stoves are responsible for 12.7 percent of childhood asthma cases nationwide.
Voice of San Diego reported that the city of San Diego decided last year to follow Encinitas’ lead and commit to phasing out natural gas use from residential and commercial buildings by 2035.
But San Diego is taking it a step further – the city says it will eventually attempt to retrofit all existing buildings to get rid of natural gas use almost completely. City officials haven’t passed specific policies on retrofitting yet, so it is still unclear how the city plans to do this.
Solana Beach also passed a set of new policies in 2021 aimed at boosting building electrification, though it only applies to space heaters, water heaters and clothes dryers – it does not ban the use of natural gas for indoor and outdoor cooking or indoor fireplaces and outdoor firepits.
In Other News
- Del Mar City Councilmembers asked their city attorney on Monday to review SANDAG’s weighted vote process. Last week, a group of small-city board members, including Del Mar Councilmember Terry Gaasterland, walked out of the SANDAG board meeting in protest of the regional agency’s weighted vote system and the election of
Related: The highly anticipated SANDAG board discussion on the weighted vote system has been removed from the Jan. 27 meeting agenda and is now slated to be discussed at the SANDAG board retreat March 9-10.
- NCTD has chosen developers to move forward with building residential and commercial construction projects at two Carlsbad transit stations. It’s part of a larger effort by the transit district to turn the largely empty and underused land surrounding up to 12 of its properties into mixed-use projects with market-rate housing, affordable housing and commercial spaces. (Union-Tribune)
- A new permanent supportive housing community for homeless and very low-income residents has broken ground in Oceanside. The complex will have 60 units, with 59 for homeless community members or those at risk of homelessness. (Union-Tribune)