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City's Climate Action Plan bumps up against Housing for Hope approval

Has the time passed to use natural gas?

Why build something up that you're just going to have to tear apart in 20 years?
Why build something up that you're just going to have to tear apart in 20 years?

An affordable housing project in City Heights is facing pushback from an environmental group for its use of natural gas systems, which the city plans to phase out in new buildings.


Last week, the planning commission unanimously approved La Maestra Housing for Hope, a redevelopment project at 4135 Fairmount Avenue. The project is slated to be equipped with gas-powered appliances — from stoves to heaters.


"The Project must decarbonize," claimed Coast Law Group in a letter on behalf of the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation that argued the city's continued reliance on natural gas is at odds with its Climate Action Plan.


San Diego has yet to adopt an ordinance that would require La Maestra Housing for Hope to be equipped with all-electric infrastructure. Known as a reach code because it goes beyond the state's minimum building standards, such an ordinance would phase out almost all natural gas usage from buildings by 2035.


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The city's 2022 Climate Action Plan focuses on measures like the reach code to decarbonize buildings, which account for nearly 25 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. Critics argue that approving new projects with gas infrastructure, infrastructure that has a lifetime of two to three decades, will frustrate the city’s climate goals, including its goal of phasing out 45 percent of natural gas usage from existing buildings by 2030. (Only five years later, that goal would jump to 90 percent.) 


At least 76 local and state jurisdictions have adopted codes to reduce their use of natural gas. But a lawsuit filed by the California Restaurant Association has put similar plans — including San Diego's — on hold after a federal appeals court overturned the city of Berkeley’s ban on natural gas in new construction.


But Berkeley is fighting the ruling, and some cities are forging ahead into the post-gas future. Carlsbad, which backed off plans for an ordinance in May, has now switched to an "electrification preferred" reach code that would allow both options, but which would stricter requirements for gas.


The La Maestra Housing for Hope project will be a four-story, 14,945-square-foot multi-dwelling unit that includes 20 transitional housing units affordable by low-income households for a period of 55 years.


Critics say those residents may struggle to afford the transition away from natural gas when the time comes.

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Why build something up that you're just going to have to tear apart in 20 years?
Why build something up that you're just going to have to tear apart in 20 years?

An affordable housing project in City Heights is facing pushback from an environmental group for its use of natural gas systems, which the city plans to phase out in new buildings.


Last week, the planning commission unanimously approved La Maestra Housing for Hope, a redevelopment project at 4135 Fairmount Avenue. The project is slated to be equipped with gas-powered appliances — from stoves to heaters.


"The Project must decarbonize," claimed Coast Law Group in a letter on behalf of the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation that argued the city's continued reliance on natural gas is at odds with its Climate Action Plan.


San Diego has yet to adopt an ordinance that would require La Maestra Housing for Hope to be equipped with all-electric infrastructure. Known as a reach code because it goes beyond the state's minimum building standards, such an ordinance would phase out almost all natural gas usage from buildings by 2035.


Sponsored
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The city's 2022 Climate Action Plan focuses on measures like the reach code to decarbonize buildings, which account for nearly 25 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. Critics argue that approving new projects with gas infrastructure, infrastructure that has a lifetime of two to three decades, will frustrate the city’s climate goals, including its goal of phasing out 45 percent of natural gas usage from existing buildings by 2030. (Only five years later, that goal would jump to 90 percent.) 


At least 76 local and state jurisdictions have adopted codes to reduce their use of natural gas. But a lawsuit filed by the California Restaurant Association has put similar plans — including San Diego's — on hold after a federal appeals court overturned the city of Berkeley’s ban on natural gas in new construction.


But Berkeley is fighting the ruling, and some cities are forging ahead into the post-gas future. Carlsbad, which backed off plans for an ordinance in May, has now switched to an "electrification preferred" reach code that would allow both options, but which would stricter requirements for gas.


The La Maestra Housing for Hope project will be a four-story, 14,945-square-foot multi-dwelling unit that includes 20 transitional housing units affordable by low-income households for a period of 55 years.


Critics say those residents may struggle to afford the transition away from natural gas when the time comes.

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