Palo Alto adopted an ordinance Monday to require circuitry for charging electric vehicles in all newly built homes, a move aimed at helping make Palo Alto "the most electric-vehicle-friendly city in the world."
The City Council unanimously accepted the ordinance Monday night but left some of the technical details of the ordinance to be untangled at a later date. At issue was the inclusion of plastic tubing, called a raceway, to accommodate circuits of different intensity, which resident and electrician Richard Castle said would use more energy and cost extra money and ultimately discourage chargers.
The law would apply to the approximately 110 homes approved to be built each year, including teardown/rebuilds, in Palo Alto. Development Services Director Peter Pirnejad said the system would cost up to $500 to cover the conduit, utility box and panel capacity needed to install the new circuitry and the cost to add in circuitry for electric-vehicle charging after the building was completed.
Separately, the council also unanimously supported a series of fines for stalled, long-term residential construction projects, which can be eye-sores and a health hazard for youths who play in construction zones.
Under the new ordinance, penalties are assessed based on the expiration dates of building permits, with the fee increasing as time passes following expiration. After 31 days, the penalty would be $200 per day without an active permit. For days 61 through 120 the daily fee would be $400, and after 120 days the fee would increase to $800 per day. The city's chief building official would have the authority to modify or waive the penalty based on circumstances.
The law "is consistent with the overarching goal that construction not be permitted to languish, and avoids imposing harsh penalties on minor delays while ensuring that complaint-based enforcement is available to dissuade truly stalled construction," a city staff report states.