Contra Costa pauses all-electric building requirements

MARTINEZ — Contra Costa County officials will stop enforcing building codes that require most new buildings to be all-electric — at least for now.

The about-face comes after a three-judge panel in April struck down Berkeley’s first-in-the-nation ban on natural gas in new construction, ruling that cities do not have the authority to prohibit the installation of natural gas plumbing in buildings.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors agreed to pause enforcement on Tuesday, attempting to avoid litigation or other legal issues because the ordinance that went into effect June 2022 was similar to Berkeley’s now-illegal ban.

There’s a growing wave of local governments reconsidering their approach to embracing clean, carbon-free energy in residential and commercial buildings — currently the source of roughly a quarter of California’s emissions, according to the California Energy Commission.

San Mateo County also recently halted enforcement of its building “reach” codes, and the city of San Luis Obispo announced a similar pause in July. It’s unclear what elected officials in Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco are planning to do about similar rules that are now caught in these legal crosshairs.


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