News

As progress stalls on climate goals, Palo Alto banks on electrification

City Council to focus on transportation, conversion of buildings to meet '80x30' target

A parking spot in the Quarry Road parking garage at the Stanford Shopping Center is designated for an electric vehicle. Palo Alto's action plan on climate change calls for having 85% of newly purchased vehicles in the city be electric. File photo by Veronica Weber.

When Palo Alto adopted a goal in 2016 to cut carbon emissions by 80%, city leaders heralded the action as a critical step in the city's effort to combat climate change.

Since then, however, the City Council's actions have not matched its rhetoric. Emission levels have remained relatively unchanged in the last five years, and the city's progress on electrification of buildings has been slow. Even though the council has taken some actions — including constructing new charging stations at public garages and adopting mandates that require new buildings to eschew gas appliances in favor of electric ones — these steps are nowhere near enough to get to the "80x30" goal, which calls for an 80% reduction of emissions by 2030, as measured against the baseline year of 1990.

According to city staff, Palo Alto emitted an estimated 482,327 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, waste, water and municipal sectors in 2019 — a 38.2% decrease since 1990, but only a small dip from the 2013, when the city's adopted a "carbon neutral" electric portfolio. About two-thirds of these emissions were in the transportation sector; the remaining third was mostly in natural gas. To meet its goal, the city would need to get to 217,745 metric tons of CO2e by 2030.

What would that take? For starters, the electrification of gas appliances in virtually all single-family homes and of practically all rooftop HVAC units by 2030, as well a widespread adoption of electric vehicles by local residents. According to city staff, 85% of car purchases in Palo Alto would have to be electric vehicles (up from 30% today) and 40% of commuter trips into Palo Alto would be made by electric vehicles (up from the current 3%).

It would likely require a citywide vote for a controversial policy such as carbon pricing. According to a new analysis by Utilities Department staff, it would require about $740 million in expenditures (though it remains unclear whether it will be the city — or the residents — who are paying for the needed investments) and it could easily entail a legal challenge, as is the case in Berkeley, where the city is facing a suit over its 2019 ban on natural gas in new buildings.

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Even these actions, if instituted, would achieve only a 72% reduction in carbon emissions since 1990, leaving a gap of 8% between what's desired and what's currently viewed as viable.

Faced with the daunting challenge, the council took a stride toward the 80x30 goal on Monday night, when it reaffirmed its commitment to the climate change goal and directed staff to study a host of new programs and initiatives that would advance the city's emission-reduction mission. This includes establishing a new stakeholder group of local experts to help steer the city's efforts on climate action and exploring a program in which utility customers voluntarily pay a fee to support building electrification throughout the city — an updated version of the PaloAltoGreen program.

Other proposals in the motion, which was crafted by Vice Mayor Pat Burt and unanimously approved by his colleagues, include exploring an on-bill financing program that would allow residents to invest in replacing gas appliances with electric ones and then pay off the cost over time through fees on their utility bills.

Burt acknowledged the challenge of meeting the council's ambitious goal but suggested that the city has little choice but to move ahead. He pointed to the wildfires that have ravaged parts of the state in recent years as an argument for aggressively moving ahead with its action plan on climate change. Global warming, he argued, isn't just a long-term existential threat; it is also a near-term hazard to public health.

"Just imagine a fire speeding down out of the foothills and wiping out and coming into our urban-wildland boundary … and the incredible impacts. It's hard to even fathom but I encourage you to go visit the outskirts of Boulder Creek, Santa Rose or Paradise, California," Burt said. "These are not things that are hypothetical. These are events today in California."

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His colleagues agreed and joined him in supporting staff's proposed action plan, which focuses its early phases on education and community outreach. Over the next year, the city plans to conduct an environmental analysis of the Sustainability/Climate Action Plan and then move ahead with pilot programs pertaining to electrification.

"Palo Alto used to be a leader on this issue and I think it's really time we reclaim our role as regional, state and even national leader on bold climate change actions," council member Greer Stone said during the discussion.

While everyone agreed that action on climate change is necessary, some questioned whether the city's goals are actually achievable. Burt suggested there are some reasons for hope. Palo Alto residents, he noted, have proven in the past that they are willing to pay extra for achieving environmental goal, whether it's purchasing a Tesla or signing up for PaloAltoGreen.

Another piece of evidence arrived in the form of a petition signed by 229 residents, including neighborhood leaders and environmental activists. The petition urged the council to stay on track with its climate action plan by expanding electrification of city buildings, improving traffic flow, expanding bike boulevards and providing incentives for purchases of electric vehicles.

"Over the years, Palo alto has earned its reputation as one of the nation's most environmentally engaged communities," states the letter, whose signatories include environmental activists Debbie Mytels, Sandra Slater, Sven Thesen and former Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto. "Now is not the time to scale back our goals or slow our approach: climate change is happening faster than originally predicted, and we need to act just as quickly."

Council member Alison Cormack also said that staff's proposal fills her with hope, even despite the fact that most of the programs in the plan have yet to be vetted with the community or undergo an environmental analysis.

"Not only is there a path, but there is a dollar figure that is within the realm of possibility," Cormack said. "Maybe we haven't figured out yet how to make it work, but I'm pretty confident, given the magnitude of the problem and working together, that we can do so."

Others weren't as confident. Mayor Tom DuBois noted that the key actions proposed by staff — including conversion of nearly all single-family homes to electrification — constitute "huge changes in behavior."

"There is really no time to waste," DuBois said. "These are really steep targets."

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As progress stalls on climate goals, Palo Alto banks on electrification

City Council to focus on transportation, conversion of buildings to meet '80x30' target

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Apr 20, 2021, 12:26 am

When Palo Alto adopted a goal in 2016 to cut carbon emissions by 80%, city leaders heralded the action as a critical step in the city's effort to combat climate change.

Since then, however, the City Council's actions have not matched its rhetoric. Emission levels have remained relatively unchanged in the last five years, and the city's progress on electrification of buildings has been slow. Even though the council has taken some actions — including constructing new charging stations at public garages and adopting mandates that require new buildings to eschew gas appliances in favor of electric ones — these steps are nowhere near enough to get to the "80x30" goal, which calls for an 80% reduction of emissions by 2030, as measured against the baseline year of 1990.

According to city staff, Palo Alto emitted an estimated 482,327 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, waste, water and municipal sectors in 2019 — a 38.2% decrease since 1990, but only a small dip from the 2013, when the city's adopted a "carbon neutral" electric portfolio. About two-thirds of these emissions were in the transportation sector; the remaining third was mostly in natural gas. To meet its goal, the city would need to get to 217,745 metric tons of CO2e by 2030.

What would that take? For starters, the electrification of gas appliances in virtually all single-family homes and of practically all rooftop HVAC units by 2030, as well a widespread adoption of electric vehicles by local residents. According to city staff, 85% of car purchases in Palo Alto would have to be electric vehicles (up from 30% today) and 40% of commuter trips into Palo Alto would be made by electric vehicles (up from the current 3%).

It would likely require a citywide vote for a controversial policy such as carbon pricing. According to a new analysis by Utilities Department staff, it would require about $740 million in expenditures (though it remains unclear whether it will be the city — or the residents — who are paying for the needed investments) and it could easily entail a legal challenge, as is the case in Berkeley, where the city is facing a suit over its 2019 ban on natural gas in new buildings.

Even these actions, if instituted, would achieve only a 72% reduction in carbon emissions since 1990, leaving a gap of 8% between what's desired and what's currently viewed as viable.

Faced with the daunting challenge, the council took a stride toward the 80x30 goal on Monday night, when it reaffirmed its commitment to the climate change goal and directed staff to study a host of new programs and initiatives that would advance the city's emission-reduction mission. This includes establishing a new stakeholder group of local experts to help steer the city's efforts on climate action and exploring a program in which utility customers voluntarily pay a fee to support building electrification throughout the city — an updated version of the PaloAltoGreen program.

Other proposals in the motion, which was crafted by Vice Mayor Pat Burt and unanimously approved by his colleagues, include exploring an on-bill financing program that would allow residents to invest in replacing gas appliances with electric ones and then pay off the cost over time through fees on their utility bills.

Burt acknowledged the challenge of meeting the council's ambitious goal but suggested that the city has little choice but to move ahead. He pointed to the wildfires that have ravaged parts of the state in recent years as an argument for aggressively moving ahead with its action plan on climate change. Global warming, he argued, isn't just a long-term existential threat; it is also a near-term hazard to public health.

"Just imagine a fire speeding down out of the foothills and wiping out and coming into our urban-wildland boundary … and the incredible impacts. It's hard to even fathom but I encourage you to go visit the outskirts of Boulder Creek, Santa Rose or Paradise, California," Burt said. "These are not things that are hypothetical. These are events today in California."

His colleagues agreed and joined him in supporting staff's proposed action plan, which focuses its early phases on education and community outreach. Over the next year, the city plans to conduct an environmental analysis of the Sustainability/Climate Action Plan and then move ahead with pilot programs pertaining to electrification.

"Palo Alto used to be a leader on this issue and I think it's really time we reclaim our role as regional, state and even national leader on bold climate change actions," council member Greer Stone said during the discussion.

While everyone agreed that action on climate change is necessary, some questioned whether the city's goals are actually achievable. Burt suggested there are some reasons for hope. Palo Alto residents, he noted, have proven in the past that they are willing to pay extra for achieving environmental goal, whether it's purchasing a Tesla or signing up for PaloAltoGreen.

Another piece of evidence arrived in the form of a petition signed by 229 residents, including neighborhood leaders and environmental activists. The petition urged the council to stay on track with its climate action plan by expanding electrification of city buildings, improving traffic flow, expanding bike boulevards and providing incentives for purchases of electric vehicles.

"Over the years, Palo alto has earned its reputation as one of the nation's most environmentally engaged communities," states the letter, whose signatories include environmental activists Debbie Mytels, Sandra Slater, Sven Thesen and former Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto. "Now is not the time to scale back our goals or slow our approach: climate change is happening faster than originally predicted, and we need to act just as quickly."

Council member Alison Cormack also said that staff's proposal fills her with hope, even despite the fact that most of the programs in the plan have yet to be vetted with the community or undergo an environmental analysis.

"Not only is there a path, but there is a dollar figure that is within the realm of possibility," Cormack said. "Maybe we haven't figured out yet how to make it work, but I'm pretty confident, given the magnitude of the problem and working together, that we can do so."

Others weren't as confident. Mayor Tom DuBois noted that the key actions proposed by staff — including conversion of nearly all single-family homes to electrification — constitute "huge changes in behavior."

"There is really no time to waste," DuBois said. "These are really steep targets."

Comments

d page
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 20, 2021 at 6:57 am
d page, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 6:57 am

You don't need to wait for the City to create more goals, targets, road-maps, pilot projects, studies, committees, or commissions. Go to coolcalifornia.arb.ca.gov. Find out how YOU can stop polluting. Take action TODAY; then tell your neighbors, the Weekly, council members, et al.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2021 at 8:01 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 8:01 am

Recently, once a week there has been a power outage in Palo Alto.

This makes absolutely no sense unless our service is more reliable.

EVs need to be charged, garage doors and security gates need to open, stair climbers for the elderly are necessary to allow people to get to bed, phones and other devices need to be charged, food half cooked has to be thrown out, are all real life issues that have to be done with electricity and our service is unreliable giving people real problems - not just inconvenience.


Open Range
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 20, 2021 at 9:22 am
Open Range, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 9:22 am

"For starters, the electrification of gas appliances in virtually all single-family homes and of virtually all rooftop HVAC units by 2030."

This is unacceptable. Electric ranges are not suitable for serious cooking because they do not provide the same effective heat control as a gas range.

Having owned a JennAir electric range at one time, it cannot hold its own with our current Viking gas range/oven. And in addition to being easily cracked by heavy utensils, having to use a special cleanser to clean it is an utter nuisance.

As far as being relegated to driving an electric or hybrid automobile, switching from my 1960 Corvette and 1957 Speedster to a Prius or even a Tesla is not going to cut it.

I'll gladly pay $10.00 a gallon for petrol rather than lining Elon Musk's pocket and motoring about on one of his silent and unsightly vehicles.

The Palo Alto Public Utilities will also have to improve their services and reliability before any of these recommendations become a practical and working reality.


Miriam Palm
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2021 at 9:49 am
Miriam Palm, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 9:49 am

Leave my gas appliances alone, especially my stove and water heater!! I will rush to put in a gas fireplace insert before you outlaw that.


Hinrich
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2021 at 10:13 am
Hinrich, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 10:13 am

Big mistake to ban natural gas. PA's targets are more signaling than constructive - achieving the 80% target doesn't actually change anything and may, if all other localities adopt the same, create more problems. Where exactly will the electricity for all of the EV's, Bitcoin mining, and Facebook spying come from? Are there batteries and battery ingredients for all of the country to switch to Electric cars and electric appliances? We're not building nuclear, we're retiring coal - if we blanket the valley with solar it would not be enough. So, sure, a small group of activists pass ordinances to feel good about how they are saving the planet but the residents will all have to pay the higher rates and conversion costs - tens of thousands. The pandemic, forcing commuters to stay home, cleared the skies for a while - maybe more people should think more creatively reducing and eliminating commute. California, in general, still thinks of expanding suburbs to meet housing needs - if PA had acted wisely decades ago, building up in some areas to reduce the long commutes of people who can't find housing, maybe people wouldn't be burning so much fossil fuel now. If electricity is the mandate, the city needs to be very specific where it's going to come from and how much it will cost and exactly what we gain for the effort.


marc665
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 20, 2021 at 10:39 am
marc665, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 10:39 am

Let me suggest that all in favor of banning gas appliances start by spending the next year without using any appliances between 4pm and 9 pm every day. No lights, cooking, internet, hot water, tv, laundry etc. We've all seen the ads from the state saying that we need to conserve between those hours.

Then in a year, they can talk about living in a non-gas world and how it goes.

/marc


Mondoman
Registered user
Green Acres
on Apr 20, 2021 at 11:28 am
Mondoman, Green Acres
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 11:28 am

Our brand new gas water heater and fairly new gas furnace won't be ready for replacement for another 20 years. The City is welcome to pay for early replacements if it wants to. I had thought the City budget was stretched, especially with all those unfunded employee retirement payments coming due.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 20, 2021 at 11:30 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 11:30 am

Let's remember the Palo Alto Utilities gets its electricity from PG&E which is hardly known for its safety and reliability. It shuts off power whenever it's windy to avoid yet another lawsuit for its negligence, often criminal negligence as a recent verdict found.

So expect more outages.

Also, electricity is about 3 or 4 times more expensive than reliable natural gas now; think of how much more it will rise when if it's the only power allowed.

CPAU continues to "overcharge" us $20,000,000 each and every year to fund the General Fund and its gravy train of consultants WHILE spending OUR money to appeal paying us the $20,000,000 owed us in the class action suit against this practice.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2021 at 12:03 pm
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Based on the comments above, forcing this conversion is unwise as well as unacceptable. There were some great points made by the posters above. The city illuminatti need to think carefully and critically about this issue and not move forward without voter input just because of political correctness obsessions.


Justin Taylor
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 20, 2021 at 12:27 pm
Justin Taylor, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Palo Alto residents who prefer using gas over electricity will not reduce global warming or climate change by very much.

And serious cooks (whether at home or in a professional environment) do not use electric ranges!


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 20, 2021 at 12:56 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 12:56 pm

Say good bye to restaurants looking to expand or open here. This virtue signalling is absurd, a full-employment ripoff for bureaucrats and consultants.

We should all start flying Nylar balloons in protest since the balloons -- and squirrels etc -- knock out our power and the highly paid staff can't even update the outage web site with timely and reliable information! Maybe they need another $20N of our money.


Engaged Resident
Registered user
Barron Park
on Apr 20, 2021 at 1:22 pm
Engaged Resident, Barron Park
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 1:22 pm

For sure, we need to make our grid more reliable and become less dependent on PG&E for both climate and emergency preparedness reasons. This is foundational and was a big discussion point at last night's City Council Meeting.

In a power outage, your gas-powered furnace and water heater won't work -- but you can use your gas stove with a match (your exhaust fan won't work so remember to open all the windows!) An outdoor camp stove or outdoor BBQ will also work. Without a backup power source for your electricity, the food in your fridge will still spoil after 4 hours, your house will be dark and your cell phone will stop working after some period of time.

With more rooftop solar, CPAU utility-scale batteries, and newly releasing technologies that enable an EV battery to provide power to your home in case of emergency, we can transition thoughtfully to cleaner and safer all electric homes with a reliable backup power source for those appliances we most need in an emergency.


Gas v electric
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 20, 2021 at 1:28 pm
Gas v electric, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 1:28 pm

For those lamenting the potential loss of your gas range, have you tried induction? I love my induction stovetop and would never go back to gas. It's quiet, no blazing heat (wonderful for keeping the temperature in my kitchen manageable on hot days), great control of temperature, and the glass top can take a beating.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2021 at 2:20 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 2:20 pm

I will echo the comments on electric induction stoves. Induction has come a very LONG way. I'm a serious cook who has converted to induction. I LOVE it, and I appreciate that it is a more sustainable solution that also keeps my in-home air quality healthier for my family. Big bonus.

I do think the city needs to make crystal clear how they are going to make electricity service more reliable in the face of increasing demand as they make new requirements for conversion. That part of the city's plan doesn't seem to be spelled out. While generally I support converting to electric, I'd like to hear more about how power supply will be reliably delivered on demand.

Bill Gates' new book, How To Avoid A Climate Disaster, is a good primer on this subject, pointing out the challenges and opportunities of electrification. I don't agree with everything he says, but he is right on one thing, we need to start changing how we do almost everything for the sake of our future and our children's and grandchildren's future.


Steve Dabrowski
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 20, 2021 at 3:42 pm
Steve Dabrowski, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 3:42 pm

"The city illuminatti need to think carefully and critically about this issue and not move forward without voter input just because of political correctness obsessions." Fat chance of this happening! After all the planet is in trouble and it is up to our city to lead the way in saving it.


tmp
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2021 at 3:43 pm
tmp, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Where is the goal of reducing the population of the city? The number of bodies that use resources and produce the waste are very important and should be part of the discussion. Limiting the size and density of the city and fighting back against the crowding and overpopulation that leads to more environmental destruction will give huge results.

A simple example: While per capita greenhouse - gas emissions in the US are down by 20% in the last 25 years, that reduction has been erased by population growth and then some. The U.S. population increased 68 million people during that period, negating the reductions and resulting in a total increase of greenhouse-gas emissions of 1.2%.

If we had dealt with population growth at the same time we would be way ahead of the game!
The same goes with smog emissions and water quality and usage!!


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 20, 2021 at 4:58 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 4:58 pm

Let's hear it for REDUCING population instead of densifying! Why are we spending money to REDUCE commuter trips WHILE increasing the number of commuters? How does this make sense?? Stop building offices that employ commuters!

Why is the city spending $740,000,000 of OUR money on more "traffic calming" devices and roundabouts to impede traffic flow and create more gridlock and more emissions from gridlocked those idling vehicles While xcommuter and residential populations keep growing??


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2021 at 5:06 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 5:06 pm

Let's make fewer people--smaller families. Many forward-thinking young people are choosing to do just that. Many of us who are now past our child-bearing years did just that. My generation can help our dear children and grandchildren by doing all we can to minimize our environmental footprint.

It's time to take more responsibility for undoing the environmental problems we have created over decades. Less complaining, please. Let's roll up our sleeves and help...for our kids!


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 20, 2021 at 6:12 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 6:12 pm

There are many important issues before us: affordable housing, other housing, RHNA quotas, housing legislation, fees, unfunded pensions, the budget, grade separation, climate change. To name a few. But the conversations about these issues are on parallel tracks with, apparently, little or no thought given to when those tracks cross. Add to this another issue that was referenced repeatedly last night: staff bandwidth. Why pursue something that cancels out something else? Why expend staff time on something that will ultimately be undone?

Online Name provides good examples: why are we simultaneously trying to reduce commuter trips and add commuters? Why continue with traffic calming when the overriding goal is to reduce traffic?

I think it would be helpful for the City to start with an infrastructure audit so that we know where we have deficits, where we are breaking even, and where we have capacity. ABAG can throw down numbers and Sacramento can threaten legislation, but local city councils are the only government body that is going to have to face constituents if the walls come a-tumbling down. Bad policy and reckless, unmitigated development is irresponsible. And sometimes, as Vice Mayor Burt reminded us, it can be deadly.

The S-CAP discussion raises many questions, starting (for me) with who wants to rely on PG&E and how does a 30% growth in population factor into the S-CAP plan?


Andy
Registered user
Community Center
on Apr 20, 2021 at 8:16 pm
Andy, Community Center
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 8:16 pm

RE: Reducing our Population:
The goal of climate action is to reduce carbon trapping gasses. It is not useful to keep people out of Palo Alto and then claim that we have reduced our carbon. (Those people are still somewhere). All of the people who live here use services that require more people: teachers, doctors, landscapers, grocery workers, restaurant and store owners, plumbers... By creating affordable housing and denser housing options near transit hubs, we allow more people to live where they work. This decreases carbon overall because people's commutes are shorter or maybe they can walk or bike to work.


Andy
Registered user
Community Center
on Apr 20, 2021 at 8:20 pm
Andy, Community Center
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 8:20 pm

Re: Electric (Induction) cooking
Here's a great video for those not familiar with induction. Many serious cooks are turning to this new electric (nothing like the old electric!)
Web Link


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 20, 2021 at 10:43 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 20, 2021 at 10:43 pm

Andy, they're NOT creating affordable housing! At most 15% is considered "affordable" and that's not BMR housing. More density and more people push up the price of housing.

Speaking of doctors etc/ needing to live here, have you tried to make an appointment with a specialist at PAMF lately? Their excuse for the long 6-month wait to see the first available specialist -- not the preferred one! -- IS that they can't recruit because housing here is too expensive even for doctors!

If I needed the specialist sooner, I'd have to increase my carbon footprint by going to an unfamiliar specialist ELSEWHERE.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 21, 2021 at 9:18 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Apr 21, 2021 at 9:18 am

On the news today they were discussing mining for lithium in CA and Nevada. Lithium for batteries is the new gold. If you thought they would stop digging for oil now they will be digging for lithium.

the city tree people are here today to clear trees from the electric lines. The city is doing a good job of clearing the decks for the upcoming dry / fire season.

Numerous state and federal agencies have their own agendas as to their goals. Their goals may not be the same as any city goal. VAT has invested in new busses that are on ECR. ECR is a state highway so is going to get the funding for repaving and new bus stop locations. In PA you can see them at the top of the access to ECR at SU. That is going to change so that the bus stop location will be more accessible to people on the street. A lot of changes with new money.

PAMF sends me a lot of requests for donations. Despite being affiliated with Sutter that facility does have it's problems. This location on the peninsula has competing medical services from SU and El Camino Health. Lot of jobs for the medial here that are preferred over PAMF.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Apr 21, 2021 at 9:29 am
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Apr 21, 2021 at 9:29 am

Bitcoin is mined using a tremendous amount of electricity, and many people say that this increases carbon emissions. So something's missing here. How is it that Bitcoin mining uses "bad" electricity, while all these other plans use "good" electricity?


Mondoman
Registered user
Green Acres
on Apr 21, 2021 at 2:08 pm
Mondoman, Green Acres
Registered user
on Apr 21, 2021 at 2:08 pm

I was interested to find that our new gas water heater needs no electricity, as its super low power controller uses a thermoelectric module to generate the tiny amount of electricity it uses. A gas heater would still need substantial electricity for its blower (perhaps from a conventional backup battery), but should be able to power its controller from a similar thermoelectric module.

Perhaps a gas or wood pellet fireplace insert as mentioned above would be a practical backup heat source that could also be used for a substantial part of normal heating needs as well.


Hinrich
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2021 at 8:51 am
Hinrich, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 22, 2021 at 8:51 am

Not everyone agrees with Burt who '...suggested that the city has little choice but to move ahead'. Global warming, he argued, is a long-term existential threat. Maybe, maybe not. CA hasn't provided sufficient water reserves, transportation, housing, public school excellence, energy, forest management, infrastructure upkeep, sound fiscal management, forest management (to reduce forest fires), etc. to equal it's growth. These shortcomings are more urgent, more immediate, and more consequential existential threats. It's great that the city encourages good stewardship of the planet, everyone should want that, but mandates and forcing this aggressive activism on everyone to signal PAs example to the world is misplaced. The CCs job is to provide the city with good services and safety just as it is the schools job to give the young the skills to navigate the world. Activism, playing out in extremes in our governing councils is out of control. Global warming solutions will be widely adopted as technology delivers cheaper and better alternatives and as these are embraced by emerging countries. Not because the CC forced everyone to buy a Tesla.


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Apr 22, 2021 at 2:34 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Apr 22, 2021 at 2:34 pm

Exactly where did the City Council get that number??? Was there a credible feasibility study, or did they just pull it out of a hat? 80% is totally unrealistic under any remotely affordable or politically acceptable scenario. Maybe it just was adopted to "do something, anything!" to appease the Green Gangster special interests. Remember that the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions, particularly economically and scientifically ignorant "good" intentions in this case. 20%, maybe, if PA population stays constant. Just pick the low-hanging fruit.


maguro_01
Registered user
Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2021 at 4:21 am
maguro_01, Mountain View
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 4:21 am

There actually is another and more immediate reason to curtail gas service. This is an earthquake area awaiting a very large quake. Most of the damage and casualties would come from fires as in 1906, and most of those would be caused and fed by gas
service. Automatic shutoff valves are a step forward, but the presence of the system itself is a major hazard. Water would be scarce, of course, in such a disaster.


rita vrhel
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 23, 2021 at 10:44 am
rita vrhel, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 10:44 am

As long as people buy livable houses and tear them down to build 6,000+ sq ft homes with wine cellars, spas, swimming pools, movie screening rooms, outdoor fire pits, living rooms, and cooking areas we are toast!

Destroying a livable houses and rebuilding ground up, buying a $12 Million and gutting the entire inside or buying an adjacent property, tearing down 2 income cottages and replacing them with a personal Olympic size pool and BBQ area are other CO2 producers.

All the people who idle their cars with the air conditioner full blast while checking their phones also are helping doom us.

How about starting with a Carbon Tax on home destruction and construction?

How about finally enforcing the "no gas lawn mowers and blowers" Ordinance, in place and unenforced for years. These "mow and blow" devices are highly polluting and are easily replaced with electrical units.

How about requiring all that PA homeowners must provide their gardener electric units for use on their property?

How about starting an educational program to reduce "sidewalk" watering, end lawns and forbid groundwater extraction for underground construction?

How about making underground construction part of the Floor Area Ratio?

These are much more "do-able:, IMO, than some of the CC suggestions. Thank you


memsman
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm
memsman, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm

How about eliminating the Palo Alto Airport lead-gas burning aircraft to lower our carbon emissions!? Seriously folks, that is low hanging fruit that would inconvenience only a few elitists.
Palo Alto should measure the carbon emissions of small planes from the airport our taxes support, especially focusing on the majority of the operations at PAO that are actually just planes circling for "training", burning gas for an hour, going nowhere but round and round over the Baylands Park. Each takeoff and landing counts as "an operation" which aviation enthusiasts use to bolster the claim that PAO is so vital to transportation. HAHAHA... Even the rare plane that does leave the airport pattern, just guns it over town and circles over the open spaces or coastal parks to ruin the peace.

Please don't come at me with sob stories about Hospital Life flights. Let Stanford Hospital refuel those copters, and take the noise, or let them use Moffett field for this purpose. Does the Peninsula REALLY need a third small airport in between SFO and SJC? Why is our City supporting an elitist hobby that is NOT at all a low-carbon form of transportation? PA should NOT be supporting that airport with maintenance and staff while also making conveniently noble goals for "sustainability". It is just hypocrisy.


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2021 at 5:26 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 5:26 pm

Low Hanging Fruit:
Convert all City and School District vehicles, except police, fire, and emergency vehicles, to all-electric vehicles.
Ban the use of all heavily polluting medium and heavy weight diesel trucks and buses. They not only emit CO2 but also medically dangerous particles --- cancer, COPD, etc.
All home and public swimming pools must be directly solar-heated, and not by either electricity or natural gas.
Eliminate the use of outdoor of gas or electric heaters at all restaurants, bars, and other outdoor gathering places.
Ban the use of any gardening equipment run by gasoline and allow only electrical blowers, mowers, hedge trimmers, etc. Set up a hotline to report violators.
Don't allow homeowners to subdivide their houses or to build in-law units that use more energy and have more polluting automobile emissions. In short, freeze future housing development/growth.
Force public schools to upgrade their heating and air conditioning systems to state-of-the-art efficiency --- while retaining natural gas for the improved heating systems. Impose the same mandates upon Palo Alto businesses and landlords.
Etc. Pick your poison.

Naturally, this is just a "good start". But this minor reduction in emissions just shows how incredibly expensive a crazy 80% reduction over only 8 years will be. Fools will be fools, and deliberately ignorant alt-Left Populist Socialism is just as dangerous as deliberately ignorant alt-Right Populist Fascism. Both are equally destructive to a USA that needs compromise and informed intelligence in its political and economic decisions.




Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 24, 2021 at 6:42 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 6:42 pm

Re the conversion targets for vehicles, there's been a lot in the news lately about how Biden has to back off on his EV targets because people keep their cars much longer than in the past -- an average of 11 years. New vehicle sales are down as more people buy used, thus pushing out the target window even more.

Perhaps PA could take another look at their targets, too?

Remember they insisted Uber/Lyft would cut traffic when in fact it increased traffic exponentially? And that everyone would become car-free? Instead you've got massive parking problems all over because that was yet another fairy tale.


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