Are reach codes really effective?
It seems to me that some major issues have been missing in the ongoing debate about reach codes.
One is freedom of choice and the other is effectiveness.
I believe California has been in the forefront of legislation to protect the environment, starting with requiring California cars to meet higher gas mileage standards than those established at the national level by the Environmental Protection Agency. California has also established, and continues to revise/update, new building codes that include heating and other energy uses. My guess is that California regulations for energy and other causes of global warming go beyond those of any other state.
If this is the case, why do the Los Altos Environmental Commission and City Council continue to consider passing even more stringent regulations that “reach” beyond those established by our state?
Will local reach codes really make a difference in combating global warming, or are they just a “feel good” gesture whose only real effect will be to reduce our freedom of choice while having minimal, if any, impact on global warming?
Where can we get significant improvement in combating global warming? Let’s start with India and China, and then Brazil as it continues to cut down the Amazon rainforest, which consumes large amounts of carbon dioxide while generating new oxygen for our planet.
In the meantime, let’s fully comply with California regulations on global warming and stop wasting time, money and energy on considering ineffectual reach codes.
Reach codes provide health, safety benefits
If not for the environment, support reach codes for your health and safety. It’s not that costly.
Los Altos has lived with reach codes for a couple of years now without any published hardships or major complaints. These building codes, for newly constructed buildings only, encourage or mandate the use of healthier and safer electric appliances over their historical counterparts that use methane (natural) gas. They were adopted by dozens of cities in California to address climate change.
GreenTown Los Altos supports the renewal of these building codes not only for their urgently needed environmental benefits, but also because several recent studies reinforce the health risks associated with methane gas.
We support building codes that provide health benefits to our citizens and do not unduly burden people constructing new structures.
GreenTown further supports the newly proposed Bay Area Model Reach Code that will standardize reach codes in three Bay Area counties, thereby simplifying standards for contractors, who typically work in multiple cities. The Model Reach Code does not apply to residents who replace appliances when they fail, even though we encourage everyone to consider electric alternatives.
Electric appliances cost more initially yet are more efficient and pay for themselves over time. Just how long depends upon usage patterns and what was purchased.
For example, Home Depot offers a 30-inch gas range from Frigidaire for $950 and its induction counterpart for $1,100. The induction range is more than twice as energy efficient, better for the environment and healthier for you.
Heat pumps, the electric alternative to gas furnaces and water heaters, are even more relatively efficient. Considering this, we don’t perceive reach codes to be a financial burden, as the costs are small when affording today’s construction costs of about $800-$1,000 per square foot.
It has been said that 75% of the decisions that impact the environment are made around the kitchen table.
Talk it over with your family, and we hope you join us in supporting these practical and responsible reach codes.
GreenTown Los Altos
Proposition 19 needs exemption
Many thought Proposition 19 was only about fire victims and seniors moving. It narrowly passed during the pandemic, while seniors were isolated. Many people are now being taxed out of their family homes, businesses and farms due to huge tax hikes.
My life plan was to move back to our home in Los Altos Hills, where mom was mayor, years ago.
We made careful family financial plans. Prop. 19 ruined everything.
After Dad died in 2009, I moved home and lived with Mom. Our home is small, but architecturally important. I took care of her and our house, while studying architectural preservation. If sold, it will surely be replaced by a mansion, causing pollution, no affordable housing, and it would be a tragic architectural loss.
Mom’s in assisted living due to Alzheimer’s. My lawyer told me that unless Mom moves back home on Jan. 1 the year of her death, I will not receive the $1 million exemption.
It’s far too expensive to hire in-home care. I can’t do it on my own. I’m 69 years old, a senior myself, faced with the loss of my mother, my plans and my family home.
This is not only about money. It’s about our families and our homes.
Please urge your representatives to consider an exemption, a lesser or a gradual property-tax increase, especially for children who have given up careers to care for elderly parents and their homes, and others who face losing their family properties.
Look for future petitions.
Jane van Tamelen