Berkeley Will Repeal its Ban on Gas Appliances. What Does it Mean for Other Jurisdictions?

The City of Berkeley is turning the shutoff valve on its natural gas ban. The city has agreed to cease enforcement and repeal the landmark ordinance that bans gas appliances in new construction, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) announced Wednesday. It’s part of a legal settlement with the CRA that followed city losses in the courts.

Berkeley passed the ordinance in 2019, igniting a political firestorm. Numerous jurisdictions — including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Sacramento — followed with ordinances of their own.

The CRA sued Berkeley, claiming it bypassed state and federal regulations when it approved the ban. A court sided with the CRA, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear the city’s appeal.

Jot Condie, CRA President and CEO, said any city or county that passed an ordinance similar to Berkeley’s should take it off the books.

The American Gas Association, which supported the CRA’s lawsuit, concurred.

"This settlement has implications far beyond the City of Berkeley and is a significant step towards safeguarding energy choice for California consumers and helping our nation continue on a path to achieving our energy and environmental goals," AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert said in a statement. "Natural gas has been one of the primary drivers for achieving environmental progress, and any ban on this foundation fuel will saddle consumers with significant costs for little environmental gain."

But some ordinances contained loopholes that may render them enforceable. San Francisco’s law, for instance, allows businesses to opt out. Local officials think that’s enough to make it lawful. 

“No one has come to us asking us to change or repeal our law,” San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told KQED. “We will continue to enforce it, continue to implement it, consistent with this court decision in the Berkeley case. We think we can do that.”