ENCINITAS — Later this month the Encinitas City Council will vote on a final draft ordinance to become the first city in the San Diego region with a major building electrification ordinance, however, one advocacy group has expressed concerns with exceptions included in the draft.
In February, the city began to hold workshops with community members and stakeholders to draft a building electrification ordinance to aid in the goals of reducing the use of fossil fuels laid out in the city’s Climate Action Plan.
At their June 10 meeting, the city’s Environmental Commission reviewed the final draft ordinance and sent it along with their recommendation to the City Council.
“It’s the first really comprehensive building electrification ordinance in the county,” Ann Feeney, of the San Diego Building Electrification Coalition, told The Coast News. “Most of those are in the Bay Area or in Northern California so there’s very few in Southern California but it’s growing. Encinitas is the first one to have a plan like this.”
The draft ordinance includes requirements for the construction of new buildings to reduce the need for fossil fuels, such as a requirement for electric water heaters.
“We’re really applauding Encinitas for getting this draft proposal ready,” Feeney said.
However, some exceptions included in the ordinance have advocates concerned the draft may not go far enough to achieve its long-term climate goals.
One such exception is for both attached and detached accessory dwelling units or ADUs. According to Feeney, Crystal Najera, the climate action plan administrator for the city of Encinitas, said they did not want to put any impediments to the construction of ADUs due to the city’s Housing Element.
Incentivizing the construction of ADUs to be used as low-income housing is a critical part of many cities’ housing elements, including the city of Encinitas. The San Diego Building Electrification Coalition has argued that including exceptions for ADUs doesn’t make sense to them.
“But it’s actually cheaper to build a house all-electric,” Feeney said. “And the efficiency of these electric appliances is so high that the average monthly costs are going to be less so if you’re renting it out then the renters will be paying less.”
Another exception is for gas stovetops for cooking. Many who use gas stovetops prefer them greatly over electric burners but Feeney believes that induction cooktops are just as effective as gas burners.
Induction cooking is a relatively newer technology that uses magnets powered by electricity to heat up pots and pans at a much faster speed and with more efficiency than traditional electric stovetops.
However, as a newer cooking technology, installing a full induction range or stovetop is more expensive than a gas range or traditional electric range.
“Personally, we just bought a little portable induction cooktop and we put everything on there. So that’s definitely a very viable alternative,” Feeney said.
The City Council will discuss and vote on the draft ordinance at their first meeting after their July break on August 11.
Feeney said if they agree to adopt the ordinance with the exceptions in place they will work with Encinitas on outreach for the alternatives.
“We will talk directly with people who will be doing the development about maybe why they shouldn’t do a gas stove or something else,” Feeney said.
On induction cooking, Feeney also said the San Diego Green Building Council has an induction cooktop loaner program that allows homeowners to test out induction cooking on a smaller portable unit in their house.