Council member Kristen Sneddon detailed a road journey through Oregon earlier this summer, crossing into the terrain where temperatures routinely topped 100 degrees, traveling through a country where wildfires had erupted, and crossing over dried-up lakes. She stated that climate change is no longer a hypothetical possibility; it is occurring right now. Next, speakers brought the Thomas Fire and the dangerous debris flow it produced to the Council attention.
There was no debate as the Santa Barbara City Council was poised to vote on a proposed ban on natural gas hookups in new development. But, unfortunately, the gas corporation didn’t turn up, and neither did Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions, a well-known front group set up by SoCal Gas to oppose planned bans. It was for the best. It would have merely added to their anguish.
It was a unanimous decision. However, many speakers from the Sierra Club and other organizations spoke in favor of the idea. They educated Council members on the dangers of natural gas, which contains methane, which is 80 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. It raises the risk of asthma in young children who live in natural gas-heated houses, and it’s increasingly produced by fracking. In addition, this method poses contamination threats to groundwater basins.
Santa Barbara now joins a select group of California communities that have enacted genuine bans, including Ojai, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. A total of 45 states have adopted some new natural gas hookup limitations. The ordinance of Santa Barbara, on the other hand, contains several exceptions.Gas stoves can be used in existing restaurants. Existing home additions and remodels are also exempt unless they qualify as a near teardown. Any project that affects two of three thresholds: 75% of roof area, 75% of wall area, and 75% of foundation area fall under this category. The attached granny flats are exempt; detached granny flats must conform.