Del Mar to consider a building electrification ordinance

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Del Mar will consider a building electrification ordinance, following cities including Encinitas and Solana Beach that have already enacted their own ordinances.

Council members decided during an Oct. 17 meeting to see whether they would be able to consider the ordinance during the city’s workplan in the current fiscal year, or if they should defer to the next year.

“The climate crisis is now, it’s not in calendar year 2023-24,” Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden said.

The idea originated in January 2020, when the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee recommended the electrification of all new residential and commercial construction in Del Mar, according to a city staff report. The committee again made the recommendation this past January, but council members did not include new building electrification in the city workplan.

But committee members continued to hash out the parameters of a potential ordinance.

“That proposal included the requirement that all new construction and major remodels be all-electric with no gas infrastructure installed and was based on the ordinance recently passed by the City of Encinitas,” said a staff report by Worden and City Councilmember Dave Druker, who serve as liaisons to the Sustainability Advisory Committee.

Their report added that a building electrification ordinance would contribute to the city’s Climate Action Plan and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other environmental goals.

The Encinitas ordinance, approved by City Council members in September 2021, banned the installation of natural gas infrastructure on new residential and commercial construction within the city. Exceptions were included for emergency buildings that are considered essential by California Health and Safety Code, as well as restaurants that need to cook with a flame.

About two months after Encinitas, Solana Beach council members approved an ordinance that requires newly built commercial properties to have photovoltaic systems, and new residential and commercial construction to use electric-only space conditioning, water heating and clothes dryer systems.

“This is really the first big step in transitioning to all electric and we have to take it,” Solana Beach City Councilmember Kelly Harless said at the time.

More than 60 cities, mostly in Northern California, have passed building electrification ordinances, according to a list compiled by the Sierra Club. Encinitas, Solana Beach, Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Pasadena are part of a recent surge of Southern California cities to follow suit.

There has also been confusion about what the building electrification ordinances require. Some residents have been under the impression that existing homes and businesses are required to comply.

“I think there’s a huge opportunity for more community education,” Del Mar Deputy Mayor Tracy Martinez said.