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The Encinitas City Council voted to remove exceptions for ADUs, cooking appliances and high-rise water heaters prior to adopting its "green building" ordinance. File graphic
The Encinitas City Council voted to remove exceptions for ADUs, cooking appliances and high-rise water heaters prior to adopting its "green building" ordinance. File graphic

Encinitas council beefs up ‘green building’ draft ordinance

ENCINITAS — After recently introducing a new “green building” electrification ordinance that goes beyond state requirements to make homes and businesses more environmentally friendly, the Encinitas City Council is calling for it to go even further before adoption.

The ordinance will require most new developments — construction, materials, maintenance and daily usage — to move away from the use of fossil fuels and gas-powered appliances in favor of electricity.

The first draft of the ordinance includes exceptions for certain developments, such as new accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, which are essential for the city to meet its low-income housing goals, restaurants where a gas flame is needed, central water heaters for high rise developments and more.

This is the first green building ordinance of its kind in San Diego County.

“This is the first major electrification ordinance in the county,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “There are of course others in the state but this is the most ambitious and the most comprehensive in the county and I’m very proud of that.”

Blakespear continued by saying she believed the exceptions for residential cooking appliances, accessory dwelling units and high-rise water heaters should be removed from the ordinance.

In addition, Blakespear asked city staff to return with more narrow definitions for the remaining exceptions for essential facilities, restaurant cooking equipment and local utility infrastructure design requirements.

“So that we can make sure that we are following best practices for all government buildings including county buildings and fire buildings and any other thing that may be built in our city,” Blakespear said. “To me, it seems we should really narrow these down so those exceptions are less.”

The council voted unanimously to both strike three of the exceptions from the ordinance and to return at a later date with more narrow definitions of the others.

In a public statement, the San Diego Building Electrification Coalition, which was already in support of the ordinance, praised the city for making the draft ordinance stronger.

“The San Diego Building Electrification Coalition praises the Encinitas City Council for taking a leadership role in introducing the Green Building Ordinance and for removing several of the exceptions during the Council discussion,” the statement read.

Marie Chen, the public policy team co-chair of SanDiego350, a local climate advocacy group, also had strong praise for the move of the council to strike those exceptions before second reading.

“SanDiego350 applauds the actions of Mayor Blakespear and the council members last night for removing three exceptions previously considered. Their bold vision sets an important precedent for other jurisdictions in San Diego County,” Chen said.

The ordinance now must be adjusted by city staff before returning to the council for a second reading a possible adoption at that time. The ordinance will likely return for the council’s Sept. 22 meeting.