News

City wants 20% of apartment tenants to drive electric cars

Palo Alto plans to spend more than $5 million on rebates, consulting for installation of chargers in multifamily complexes

In a city where about 15% of households already own or drive an electric vehicle, Palo Alto leaders are preparing to invest $9 million to get even more people to shift away from gasoline-powered cars. More than $5 million of that would be spent to upgrade local apartment buildings, where a dearth of chargers and parking spaces have created a significant barrier for would-be converts.

The goal is to get between 200 and 400 charging ports installed at dozens of apartment buildings, nonprofits and schools, enough to support between 1,800 and 2,400 vehicles and nearly 20% of the population in multifamily buildings. Utilities staff anticipate bringing the technology to between 60 and 90 locations. The city also hopes to increase by 1,000 the number of electric vehicles registered at apartment buildings by 2022.

To accomplish these goals, the city plans to spend about $5.1 million in the next two years, with the bulk of the funding coming from state grants. The city's program expects to receive more than $8 million from the Low Carbon Fuel Standard program, which is administered by the California Air Resources Board and which targets electric vehicles. The city is kicking in another $1 million in matching funds granted by the California Energy Commission.

According to the Utilities Department, one in every three new vehicles in Palo Alto was electric in 2017. More than 60% of Palo Alto's electric car owners drive a Tesla.

The number of non-gas cars is expected to keep rising, with 70% of current drivers of electric vehicles saying they are likely to get a second vehicle, according to a department survey of residents. Of those who own them, 73% say they charge their vehicles at home.

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Meanwhile, 70% of those survey responders who don't drive an electric vehicle say they would be "extremely interested" in getting one if they knew EV charging would be readily available.

But while chargers have become a common amenity in single-family households throughout the city, they are scarce in apartment buildings, according to staff. The infrastructure costs between $10,000 and $13,000 to install per port, resource planner Hiromi Kelty told the Utilities Advisory Commission on Wednesday night.

Many buildings also don't have enough garage space to install chargers without removing existing spots that are assigned to residents. The challenge is particularly acute for below-market-rate complexes that accept federal funding and, as such, are required to supply a certain number of widened spaces to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any new spot with charging equipment would similarly need to be ADA-compliant and, as such, take up more space.

Staff cited as an example Palo Alto Housing, the nonprofit developer that administers the city's below-market-rate program, which was hoping to install some electric chargers but could not add the hardware because of ADA regulations. As a result, the equipment is "sitting and collecting dust," staff said.

Jon Abendschein, assistant director of resource management, said zoning creates another hurdle by requiring a certain number of parking spaces. A property owner cannot get a permit to put in a charger if doing so removes a parking space.

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"This happens with commercial buildings, especially in constrained areas in downtown," Abendschein said.

Of the $5.1 million that the city plans to spend to help multifamily complexes, nonprofit organizations and schools install equipment, about $3.7 million will be dedicated to charger rebates. City of Palo Alto Utilities also plans to spend $600,000 on technical assistance for charger installation and $800,000 for transformer upgrades at these types of buildings.

"We'd like to focus on using government funds to remove bottlenecks for hard-to-reach customers," Kelty said.

In addition to increasing its assistance for apartment dwellers, the Utilities Department is also proposing investing $1 million from the Low Carbon Fuel Standard program in chargers at for commercial buildings. Together with a matching $1 million, between 200 and 400 chargers could be installed at neighborhood commercial centers, according to utilities staff.

The Utilities Advisory Commission generally endorsed the Utilities Department's plans, particularly its focus on apartment buildings. Commissioner Lisa Forssell suggested the city focus on getting a greater number of chargers into apartment buildings, even if this means not selecting the fast-charging equipment known as Level 3.

"I hope we're embracing new technology and a variety of options for multifamily units, to make as much charging available to as many residents there (as possible)," Forssell said.

Commissioner A. C. Johnston said he was "delighted" with the city's leadership on electric-vehicle adoption. He also noted that the city's population more than doubles during the day and urged staff to do more to support people who live elsewhere but work in Palo Alto. So far, the city has installed 53 charging ports at public parking facilities.

"I'd be interested in seeing more emphasis put on charging infrastructure where people work so that we can encourage not only Palo Alto residents but commuters into Palo Alto," Johnston said.

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City wants 20% of apartment tenants to drive electric cars

Palo Alto plans to spend more than $5 million on rebates, consulting for installation of chargers in multifamily complexes

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Sep 6, 2019, 6:41 am

In a city where about 15% of households already own or drive an electric vehicle, Palo Alto leaders are preparing to invest $9 million to get even more people to shift away from gasoline-powered cars. More than $5 million of that would be spent to upgrade local apartment buildings, where a dearth of chargers and parking spaces have created a significant barrier for would-be converts.

The goal is to get between 200 and 400 charging ports installed at dozens of apartment buildings, nonprofits and schools, enough to support between 1,800 and 2,400 vehicles and nearly 20% of the population in multifamily buildings. Utilities staff anticipate bringing the technology to between 60 and 90 locations. The city also hopes to increase by 1,000 the number of electric vehicles registered at apartment buildings by 2022.

To accomplish these goals, the city plans to spend about $5.1 million in the next two years, with the bulk of the funding coming from state grants. The city's program expects to receive more than $8 million from the Low Carbon Fuel Standard program, which is administered by the California Air Resources Board and which targets electric vehicles. The city is kicking in another $1 million in matching funds granted by the California Energy Commission.

According to the Utilities Department, one in every three new vehicles in Palo Alto was electric in 2017. More than 60% of Palo Alto's electric car owners drive a Tesla.

The number of non-gas cars is expected to keep rising, with 70% of current drivers of electric vehicles saying they are likely to get a second vehicle, according to a department survey of residents. Of those who own them, 73% say they charge their vehicles at home.

Meanwhile, 70% of those survey responders who don't drive an electric vehicle say they would be "extremely interested" in getting one if they knew EV charging would be readily available.

But while chargers have become a common amenity in single-family households throughout the city, they are scarce in apartment buildings, according to staff. The infrastructure costs between $10,000 and $13,000 to install per port, resource planner Hiromi Kelty told the Utilities Advisory Commission on Wednesday night.

Many buildings also don't have enough garage space to install chargers without removing existing spots that are assigned to residents. The challenge is particularly acute for below-market-rate complexes that accept federal funding and, as such, are required to supply a certain number of widened spaces to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any new spot with charging equipment would similarly need to be ADA-compliant and, as such, take up more space.

Staff cited as an example Palo Alto Housing, the nonprofit developer that administers the city's below-market-rate program, which was hoping to install some electric chargers but could not add the hardware because of ADA regulations. As a result, the equipment is "sitting and collecting dust," staff said.

Jon Abendschein, assistant director of resource management, said zoning creates another hurdle by requiring a certain number of parking spaces. A property owner cannot get a permit to put in a charger if doing so removes a parking space.

"This happens with commercial buildings, especially in constrained areas in downtown," Abendschein said.

Of the $5.1 million that the city plans to spend to help multifamily complexes, nonprofit organizations and schools install equipment, about $3.7 million will be dedicated to charger rebates. City of Palo Alto Utilities also plans to spend $600,000 on technical assistance for charger installation and $800,000 for transformer upgrades at these types of buildings.

"We'd like to focus on using government funds to remove bottlenecks for hard-to-reach customers," Kelty said.

In addition to increasing its assistance for apartment dwellers, the Utilities Department is also proposing investing $1 million from the Low Carbon Fuel Standard program in chargers at for commercial buildings. Together with a matching $1 million, between 200 and 400 chargers could be installed at neighborhood commercial centers, according to utilities staff.

The Utilities Advisory Commission generally endorsed the Utilities Department's plans, particularly its focus on apartment buildings. Commissioner Lisa Forssell suggested the city focus on getting a greater number of chargers into apartment buildings, even if this means not selecting the fast-charging equipment known as Level 3.

"I hope we're embracing new technology and a variety of options for multifamily units, to make as much charging available to as many residents there (as possible)," Forssell said.

Commissioner A. C. Johnston said he was "delighted" with the city's leadership on electric-vehicle adoption. He also noted that the city's population more than doubles during the day and urged staff to do more to support people who live elsewhere but work in Palo Alto. So far, the city has installed 53 charging ports at public parking facilities.

"I'd be interested in seeing more emphasis put on charging infrastructure where people work so that we can encourage not only Palo Alto residents but commuters into Palo Alto," Johnston said.

Comments

Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 7:36 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 7:36 am
62 people like this

This is not possible when most apartments being built are underparked by design. To live with an EV it is essential to be able to charge overnight at home. EV charging facilities, even public ones, have to have offstreet charging places. Some EV vehicles only have a limited range and have to be charged every night.

It is apparent that whoever brought this idea up has no idea of how EV ownership works in practice.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:02 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:02 am
37 people like this

It is a great idea, but, the article describes how the city has boxed itself in by allowing and even encouraging underparked complexes.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:25 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:25 am
48 people like this

The double standard here is ridiculous. The City actually wants people to use public transit to commute to work, yet it is calling for work places to have EV chargers available for employees. The City is encouraging housing with less parking spaces than residential needs in both single family residential areas (ADUs) and multi family residences with less than one space per unit.

Arithmetic tells me that this can't work in practice. Hilarious idea.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:30 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:30 am
27 people like this

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Arithmetic tells me that this can't work in practice. Hilarious idea.

Arithmetic? You think the left hand and the right of government can coordinate well enough to apply arithmetic to the process?


This is great, thank you
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2019 at 10:35 am
This is great, thank you, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2019 at 10:35 am
1 person likes this

I am very supportive of this. It makes EVs available to more people who want them.

A cost of $10,000 per charging port seems high though. How many cars does a port charge?

When space is limited in some of these locations, one option is overhead EV chargers.


What Will They Do Next
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 6, 2019 at 3:18 pm
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
on Sep 6, 2019 at 3:18 pm
28 people like this

So let me see if I understand. The city wants to spend money to install charging stations in apartment complexes that are on private property not owned by the city in addition to some city owned land.

What's to stop an individual home owner from demanding similar treatment?


neighbor
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 6, 2019 at 4:41 pm
neighbor, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 6, 2019 at 4:41 pm
17 people like this

If these apartment complexes are low-income housing, there is no way that those occupants can foot the cost of a new electric vehicle.


Neighbor
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:49 pm
Neighbor, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:49 pm
26 people like this

What are they, dictators?
Think carefully, folks, about handfuls of politicians dictating stuff like this.
May not be for the best.


Downfall
Fairmeadow
on Sep 7, 2019 at 12:41 am
Downfall, Fairmeadow
on Sep 7, 2019 at 12:41 am
35 people like this

Though I have lived here for 30+ years Palo Alto is truly starting to disgust me with its misuse of public funds. The real gem from this article is that they want to install chargers for Palo Alto Housing Corp which is supposed to be providing below market housing for low income individuals. So do all these low income individuals need to charge their Teslas.

Also a huge NO to spending public funds for installing them at apartment complexes. These are privately owned so the owners need to foot the bill. If the owners will not install a charger that's just too bad for entitled renters who feel they need/want to have an electric car. Either find another apartment with a charger, save up for a house where you can install your own charger, or better yet if you really care about the environment don't bother with an electric car at all and start biking.


Don't Discriminate Against Gas Powered Cars
Community Center
on Sep 7, 2019 at 8:37 am
Don't Discriminate Against Gas Powered Cars, Community Center
on Sep 7, 2019 at 8:37 am
28 people like this

How about a conveniently located gas pump outside of selected apartment complexes?

Residents could be issued ID cards and a set time to refuel.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2019 at 9:16 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2019 at 9:16 am
5 people like this

Posted by Downfall, a resident of Fairmeadow

>> Though I have lived here for 30+ years Palo Alto is truly starting to disgust me with its misuse of public funds. The real gem from this article is that they want to install chargers for Palo Alto Housing Corp which is supposed to be providing below market housing for low income individuals. So do all these low income individuals need to charge their Teslas.

In 30 seconds on the web I found a used 2015 Nissan Leaf S for $10K. How valuable a car are you willing to allow a low-income individual to own? I would have thought up to $10K would be OK.

Low income individuals are not going to be buying new Teslas. Obviously. But, electrics have been around long enough now that you can find good deals on used electrics.


What's a little more electricity?
Midtown
on Sep 7, 2019 at 12:57 pm
What's a little more electricity?, Midtown
on Sep 7, 2019 at 12:57 pm
8 people like this

The whole state is going all-electric. Where is all this electricity gong to come from? We know where all the lithium for the batteries will come from, and what that process entails. How much more natural gas will be used to make the added electricity for everything? Will it be less than the amount of natural gas used in everyone's cooktops and heaters and dryers? Can we ask that government drop the "exemption" of their precious carbon credits, pretending that paying extra for the production of a certain type of energy somehow subtracts or alters it's consequence? The arithmetic comment cracked me up - we would think that the government we elect would use everything available to humankind to ensure that humanity thrives. When we know better, we should do better. Requiring the use of more and more electric vehicle batteries is not better. How far do we allow them to go in this quest for green? It's much more likely that the pushers of this madness see "green" as money, not the environment. So we clean up the air while we poison the crust. And what if it isn't the burning of fossil fuels? What if that isn't the issue? Then we could be doing something truly productive, like pyrolyzing plastic waste to make diesel and gas, which would clean up the surface of the planet and the oceans instead of poisoning them to get the lithium out. Duh. When we know better, we do better, right? Maybe not. Because if lithium mining and fracking are ok with us as a "progressive and enlightened" society, then perhaps we don't deserve to survive the millennia. Just remember that no matter what we do, the planet, itself, will be fine. Life on it will change, but it will go on peacefully spinning along, oblivious to the success or failure of its own creations. Here is where we see the human condition, unchanged through all of our progress.


Greetings From Stuttgart
Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2019 at 1:10 pm
Greetings From Stuttgart , Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2019 at 1:10 pm
19 people like this

Cool people don't drive electric cars.

Tesla owners tend to be a bit arrogant & Prius drivers drive too slow & are overcautious...aka boring drivers.

I'll take my Carrera any day...gas or no gas.


“Low income” here
Midtown
on Sep 7, 2019 at 5:20 pm
“Low income” here, Midtown
on Sep 7, 2019 at 5:20 pm
9 people like this

I’ve been on the BMR waiting list for 6 years and have no hope of actually getting The Call. FWIW this “low income” household is pulling in 130k so I’m sorry I can’t rub elbows with you home owners but please don’t crap on renters in this city. Forget charging ports, I’d love for the city to routinely pick up all the furniture that gets dumped outside everytime a tenant leaves. Talk about pride of ownership


Hypocrisy works
Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2019 at 2:58 pm
Hypocrisy works, Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2019 at 2:58 pm
21 people like this

That's right, put a Band-aid on the results of excess population, but let the developers continue to build more and more offices. Pretend electric cars will solve the problem of over development.
Hypocrisy works, as long as the moneymakers get theirs.


Road Cone
Community Center
on Sep 8, 2019 at 9:08 pm
Road Cone, Community Center
on Sep 8, 2019 at 9:08 pm
15 people like this

I am waiting for the city to announce its "new and improved" traffic circle initiative, just for electric cars of course. And only for apartment dwellers.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2019 at 9:18 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2019 at 9:18 am
Like this comment

Posted by Greetings From Stuttgart, a resident of Palo Verde

>> Cool people don't drive electric cars.

Obviously not true. Elon did us all a favor by making Electric cars cool. Too cool and expensive for me.

>> Tesla owners tend to be a bit arrogant

"Compared to what?" Porsche owners?

>> Prius drivers drive too slow & are overcautious...aka boring drivers.

That is my goal. To be a boring driver.

>> I'll take my Carrera any day...gas or no gas.

In the future, all cars will be electric. Please be boring on city streets with pedestrians, bicycles, and parents with small children.

Web Link

Posted by “Low income” here, a resident of Midtown

>> this “low income” household [....] but please don’t crap on renters in this city. Forget charging ports,

Would you consider buying a good used electric car for < $10K for around town use, if your complex had convenient charging outlets?


Dan
Midtown
on Sep 9, 2019 at 11:25 am
Dan, Midtown
on Sep 9, 2019 at 11:25 am
8 people like this

Currently electric cars are toys for the well off. How many maids, gardeners, cooks, secretaries, teachers, etc. do you see driving Teslas, leafs, ... around town? You need to be able to fork over thousands of dollars more than you would pay for an internal combustion engine, have a dedicated charging space to charge at night (city mantra is that apartment complexes don't need parking spaces...), work relatively close to home, not need to carry significant loads in your car/truck, and ideally work for an employer who provides free charging at work + get a big tax incentive. If you have all of these things, then an electric vehicle will work fine for you. I am not convinced that a lot of renters in apartments have access to all of these.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 9, 2019 at 11:45 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 9, 2019 at 11:45 am
22 people like this

Gee, I'm so confused. For years we've heard from our elected officials that no one wants cars any more and hence developers *should* build car-light developments. Now they're asking US the taxpayer to pay $9,000,000 to support those cars? Of course they've also told us we don't have a traffic problem when we've got the 2d worse traffic in the country after LA. They spend zillions on traffic calming and studies to tell us traffic calming really really works when thousands of us sign petitions and complain.

What an absurd costly farce.


1966 912 Online
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 9, 2019 at 12:44 pm
1966 912 Online, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 9, 2019 at 12:44 pm
4 people like this

> Elon did us all a favor by making Electric cars cool. Too cool and expensive for me.

^^^Teslas are not COOL...just overpriced battery-mobiles.

> That is my goal. To be a boring driver.

^^^ Then a Waymo might be your cup of tea!

> Compared to what?" Porsche owners?

^^^ Recent Porsche owners can be arrogant. No argument there.

Vintage Porsche owners are esoterically hip...big difference.

Let's call 1970 the cut-off point for Porsches!

Newbies tend to make cool things tacky...they don't know any better & are all for 'show'.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2019 at 12:55 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2019 at 12:55 pm
Like this comment

Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown

>> Currently electric cars are toys for the well off. How many maids, gardeners, cooks, secretaries, teachers, etc. do you see driving Teslas, leafs

Teslas, no. (Used) Leafs, yes. Note that in India/China, an electric version of the low-cost Kwid is underway. $9K. I'm sure it won't meet US safety standards, but, affordable electrics on are on the way. Does that bother you?


No Thank You
Greenmeadow
on Sep 9, 2019 at 12:58 pm
No Thank You, Greenmeadow
on Sep 9, 2019 at 12:58 pm
10 people like this

> Note that in India/China, an electric version of the low-cost Kwid is underway. $9K. I'm sure it won't meet US safety standards,

In addition, most Americans will not buy a car made in China or India.

Look what India did to Britsh Leyland...they ruined the Jaguar & the Range Rover.

China & India are not known automotive innovation or reliability.

Buy American or Japanese.


Dan
Midtown
on Sep 9, 2019 at 1:26 pm
Dan, Midtown
on Sep 9, 2019 at 1:26 pm
2 people like this

affordable electric cars that have a range > 300 miles and can be refueled in < 10 minutes at plentiful charging stations (like gas stations) would be great... especially if they include cars & trucks with significant cargo capacity. Don't see this happening anytime soon.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 7:14 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 7:14 am
2 people like this

Posted by No Thank You, a resident of Greenmeadow

>> In addition, most Americans will not buy a car made in China or India. Look what India did to Britsh Leyland...they ruined the Jaguar & the Range Rover.

I'm not promoting that particular model. I'm pointing out that new electric cars are becoming available across the price spectrum and won't be just high-end-only. Therefore, it makes sense for charging stations to be available for affordable and low-income housing.

Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown

>> affordable electric cars that have a range > 300 miles and can be refueled in < 10 minutes at plentiful charging stations (like gas stations) would be great

Sorry, that won't be happening right away. Lower-tier electrics will mainly be for around-town use.


Shawn
College Terrace
on Sep 10, 2019 at 8:24 am
Shawn, College Terrace
on Sep 10, 2019 at 8:24 am
6 people like this

I live in a apartment complex of 15 tenants. 6 of them have Tesla's. 3 have electric BMW's. New times now people.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 4:46 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 4:46 pm
Like this comment

Posted by Shawn, a resident of College Terrace

>> I live in a apartment complex of 15 tenants. 6 of them have Tesla's. 3 have electric BMW's. New times now people.

Interesting. Perhaps we need to recalibrate on how many of what kind of charging stations to expect.


Doug
another community
on Sep 14, 2019 at 10:35 am
Doug, another community
on Sep 14, 2019 at 10:35 am
Like this comment

At some point, perhaps in 20 years, this same phenomenon will happen in the self-driving car market. Web Link


musical
Palo Verde
on Sep 14, 2019 at 8:28 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Sep 14, 2019 at 8:28 pm
Like this comment

^ Self-driving ambulances? Or just ambulance chasers?


Sean Ronan
another community
on Sep 17, 2019 at 8:19 am
Sean Ronan, another community
on Sep 17, 2019 at 8:19 am
Like this comment

EV is the wave coming to wash over everyone. Maverick Renewable Energy has a solution for Palo Alto. We would like to help with this RFP. Has it been created yet?

Sean
Mavericks Renewable Energy


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2019 at 8:22 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2019 at 8:22 am
2 people like this

And yet, there is no money to underground power lines or keep underground boxes. Something wrong here.

How can we have so many electric vehicles when our power supply is prone to outage due to seagulls, geese, squirrels, balloons, tree limbs, wind, rain, etc. etc. etc.


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