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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 19th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 22, Issue 47

Buellton debates banning electric-only housing

By Caleb Wiseblood

The number of California cities prohibiting new housing developments from using natural gas is growing, but some Buellton City Council members don’t want their town added to that list. 

In opposition to the trend, Councilmember John Sanchez requested that the City Council discuss the possibility of requiring all future residential developments to at least offer natural gas as a utility option. If passed, this policy would ban any Buellton developers from choosing to go electric-only.

The Buellton City Council recently discussed the possibility of requiring all future residential developments to offer natural gas as a utility option, or, in other words, banning developers from going electric-only.

During the City Council’s Jan. 13 meeting, City Manager Scott Wolfe said that the proposed regulation could have unintended consequences and result in legal challenges.

“There are a number of cities—in excess of 50, I think it’s 54 at this point—that have adopted all-electric requirements for new developments,” Wolfe said. “In my discussions with the city attorney, it’s been determined that the City Council would probably like to avoid adopting an ordinance requiring natural gas to be provided in developments in the future.

“There are a number of problems with this, and it does potentially expose the city to some legal issues,” Wolfe continued. 

The staff report describes predicted challenges coming from California, if the state moves forward with a full ban on natural gas in new residences, and from affordable housing providers hoping to take advantage of grants awarded to electric-only developments. 

Mayor Holly Sierra said that the City Council received multiple letters in opposition to the item. Buellton resident Larry Bishop read his own letter during public comment, which urged City Council to “oppose all efforts to maintain or increase natural gas or any other fossil fuel use.”

“The proposal in Item 8 attempts to ensure and encourage more dangerous climate-destroying use of fossil fuel in the city,” Bishop said. “It is time for Buellton to do the opposite of what Item 8 proposes and allow only electric or other safe energy power sources in new construction in our city.”

After public comment, Sanchez said he brought a prop with him to emphasize his stance. He then held up a gas valve shut-off wrench.  

“Anyone who doesn’t like gas can turn their valve off, and try to live on electric,” said Sanchez, who added that he believes every Buellton resident deserves the option to choose between the two. 

“It’s a matter of freedom,” he said.

Councilmember Elysia Lewis said she’s not in favor of banning either gas or electric but wouldn’t be comfortable with her own household going all-electric. 

“I have four kids. When the electricity goes out, what am I going to do to feed them? Especially when it’s several days,” Lewis said. “If everything’s electricity, we’re really at a disadvantage.”

Sierra said she doesn’t think the City Council should tell people “that they have to use one or the other,” and added that allowing housing developments to go all-electric won’t stop Buellton residents who want to use gas from seeking alternative housing. 

“I think that the incentives to use electric are terrific, and I think people who want to live in electric homes will buy these homes,” Sierra said. “People who don’t want electric homes will buy a home that has gas in it.”

The council took no action on the item but directed Wolfe too present legislative information from the League of California Cities. 

Weekly Poll
What type of vegetable would you grow in a free community garden?

Brussel Sprouts, they are the best.
Broccoli because it can go with any meal.
Tomatoes, although I think those are technically a fruit.
French fries!

| Poll Results

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