For Immediate Release
June 30, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO— Climate and public health advocates led by the San Francisco Climate Emergency Coalition seek to amend and strengthen the all-electric new buildings ordinance introduced today by San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.
Months of advocacy by the Coalition and allies yielded a draft ordinance which applies across building types in new San Francisco building projects applying for permit on or after January 1, 2021, but there are two caveats. A blanket exception for new commercial restaurants until 2022 benefits developers of new facilities while leaving workers, owners, and occupants with the downsides of harmful emissions, excessive heat, and imminent retrofit costs. Beyond that, the granting of exemptions is in the hands of the Department of Building Inspection.
Climate activists don’t want developers to be able to petition DBI behind closed doors, especially to get exemptions from the first real Climate Emergency legislation to come out of the Board of Supervisors. “We have less than ten years to cut emissions in half” notes Coalition member Helena Birecki, “and especially with lung problems being brought to the fore with Covid, it’s criminal for developers to argue they can’t afford to build clean!”
A transparent and accessible exceptions process based on the public interest is key to an all-electric ordinance that aligns with San Francisco’s public health, safety, and climate goals. Nearly 40% of San Francisco’s carbon emissions arise from natural gas use in buildings, and pollution from gas appliances and infrastructure is a significant public health and safety hazard. Let’s stop adding fuel to the fire.
COVID-19 has provided a stark reminder of the intersection between social, economic, and racial injustice. Air pollution and climate impacts disproportionately burden our most vulnerable communities. Every exception to the ordinance endangers lives.
The Coalition appreciates the Supervisor’s leadership and persistence and looks forward to working with the full Board to produce an ordinance that protects all San Franciscans, effective January 1, 2021. When San Francisco becomes the largest city in the country, and the first California county, to ban natural gas in new buildings, it should be without loopholes. Then San Francisco would truly lead on building electrification, and on addressing the global climate emergency.
The San Francisco Climate Emergency Coalition is composed of concerned citizens from all Supervisorial Districts of San Francisco who promote the realization of the goals of San Francisco’s Climate Emergency Declaration.
The Year in Review 2019: San Francisco’s Grassroots Campaign for Rapid and Equitable Building Decarbonization
This post originally appeared on the SF Gas Ban campaign site.
This website was launched as part of a grassroots movement to push San Francisco’s elected officials to ban natural gas in all new San Francisco buildings and to enact legislation to see that all existing buildings are equitably and justly retrofitted to run on low-carbon electricity. These demands are born out of the necessity of confronting gross inaction in the face of a spiraling human-caused climate crisis. Buildings represent a significant share of local, state and national greenhouse emissions gases.
2019 was a landmark year for the building decarbonization movement in California and beyond. For example:
As encouraging as these developments were, the sobering reality of climate science commands much more aggressive action on buildings and other sectors at the local, state, national and international levels. Nevertheless, in 2019, the City of San Francisco could not even manage to make the most painfully incremental and inadequate progress on new buildings: