Solana Beach to consider stricter electric requirements for new construction

Solana Beach City Hall
(File photo)

Solana Beach City Council members began crafting a stricter set of environmental standards for new construction and major remodels during their Aug. 25 meeting.

An ordinance that codifies those new standards, known as Reach Codes because they reach beyond statewide minimum standards, will be considered by the council during one of its September meetings. The council also has to define the criteria of a major remodel that would trigger enforcement of the new standards.

“By adding our voices, Sacramento will realize that it has buy-in from the entire state to do what is necessary,” said Mary Yang, a member of the city’s Climate Action Commission.

Some of the proposed measures in the Reach Codes include on-site solar electricity generation systems in newly constructed commercial properties; electric-only space conditioning, water heating and clothes dryers in new construction; and systems that allow for the electrification of nonelectric appliances in new construction.

“As the electric grid becomes greener and cleaner, switching from natural gas to electric is one way for a community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Rimga Viskana, a senior management analyst for the city of Solana Beach, said during a presentation to the council.

Many residents wrote to the city in support of adopting Reach Codes for new construction.

“I firmly believe that no building or remodel should be permitted with any gas consuming appliance,” wrote Chris Wakeham, who added that he uses electrical amenities at a home he recently constructed in Solana Beach.

Katie Crist, a public health researcher at UC San Diego, wrote that the climate crisis has led to “unprecedented global warming that is causing such harm to our planet, our communities and individual health.”

“Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the US and is compounded by environmental pollution from vehicles, wildfires and indoor gas exposure,” she said.

So far, 49 California cities have adopted Reach Codes, according to a list compiled by the Sierra Club. Encinitas is also in the process of adopting them.

In response to some concerns raised by others, Solana Beach City Councilman Dave Zito emphasized that the new Reach Codes would apply only to new construction.

“This isn’t going around to existing businesses and existing residences and telling people that they have to change,” Zito said. “It’s only when people come to the city saying we’re going to do a very expensive project that is going to cost a lot of money we would then say these are the types of things you will have to include.”