The Santa Barbara Community Services Department has proposed advancing the use of zero-emission vehicles as part of its plan to meet a 2045 carbon neutrality goal. | Credit: Courtesy

According to a report by the Santa Barbara Community Services Department (CSD), the county met 44 percent of target reductions outlined in a 2015 climate action plan. In addition, the CSD presented to the Board of Supervisors their road map for their 2030 and 2045 climate objectives. In order to meet a 2045 carbon neutrality goal, the CSD further proposed new ordinances to 1) restrict natural gas in new construction/renovation projects, 2) construct or renovate some buildings to be all-electric, and 3) advance the use of zero-emission vehicles. 

Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson took issue with the first recommendation, mentioning the costs of banning natural gas and expressing his reluctance to go further than existing state regulations. After 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino raised his own concerns about the reduction of only 45,000 metric tons of carbon since 2015 and questioned the environmental feasibility of electricity over natural gas, Sustainability Division Chief Ashley Watkins proposed to mellow the language of the recommendations; instead of banning natural gas outright, the recommendations would just consider restricting its use. This satisfied Nelson, who maintained that he was looking for some middle ground.

Supervisors Das Williams of the 1st District and Gregg Hart of the 2nd District were generally supportive of the report and recommendations throughout the hearing, citing the reduction of emissions growth as a sign of progress, even if they were not yet approaching net neutrality. Chair and 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann additionally supported extending the county electric vehicles policy to include light-duty vehicles, with the goal of implementing it in all departments by 2023. Williams, Hart, Hartmann, and Nelson voted in favor of the recommendations; Lavagnino left before the vote to attend another meeting.

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