Solana Beach approves greener standards for new construction, remodels

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff file photo)

The Solana Beach City Council approved an ordinance Nov. 10 to require greener energy standards for new residential and commercial construction.

The ordinance requires new commercial properties that are built to have photovoltaic systems, and new residential and commercial construction will have to use electric-only space conditioning, water heating and clothes dryer systems will be electric only.

For the record:

6:56 p.m. Nov. 18, 2021A previous version of this story misstated the next steps before the ordinance takes effect; it will receive a second reading by the City Council followed by consideration from the California Energy Commission.

The new standards also apply to major remodels. As a “relatively built-out community,” according to a city staff report, a lot of the construction in Solana Beach involves remodels.

The ordinance will go before the Solana Beach City Council for a second reading next month, then it will go before the California Energy Commission for approval.

Solana Beach City Councilwoman Kelly Harless said the city has already declared a climate emergency, and that this ordinance has been in the works.

“This is really the first big step in transitioning to all electric and we have to take it,” she said.

Solana Beach became the 52nd city in California to adopt its own Reach Codes, according to a list compiled by the Sierra Club. Other cities include Encinitas and Carlsbad.

The new regulations are known as Reach Codes because they go beyond state requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They would not require anyone in the city to convert any of the systems they currently have in place.

Shawna McGarry, one of several public speakers who supported the ordinance, said stronger environmental policies will protect future generations.

“Without major changes in the way we create, use and store energy, we are literally stealing from them,” she said.

Mary Yang, a member of the Solana Beach Climate Action Commission, said electrification “is not an uncharted path.”

“We’ve seen it coming and it has a lot of support,” she said.

Matthew Vasilakis, co-director of policy for the Climate Action Campaign, added that “methane gas and fossil fuel infrastructure must be removed from our communities as soon as possible to protect our climate and public health.”

“The proposed ordinance is a positive step forward to achieving a zero-carbon future,” he said.