City of Pacifica

Staff Report

Introduction of an Ordinance to Adopt the 2019 Edition of the California Building Standards Code and Fire Code with Local Amendments, including amendments that would exceed the minimum energy efficiency standards established by the State (Reach Codes)


Department:Planning DepartmentSponsors:


  1. Printout
  2. Attachment 1 - Proposed Ordinance for 2019 Building Code and Fire Code Update with Local Amendments (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)
  3. Attachment 2 - Hyperlink to Statewide Reach Code Residential Cost Effectiveness Study
  4. Attachment 3 - Hyperlink to Statewide Reach Code Nonresidential Cost Effectiveness Study
  5. Attachment 4 - TRC Memorandum on Cost Effectiveness Analysis (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)
  6. Attachment 5 - July 8, 2019 Reach Code Study Session
  7. Attachment 6 - Findings Supporting Local Amendments (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)

Meeting History

Nov 12, 2019 7:00 PM  City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Planning Director Wehrmeister stated that Dep. Fire Chief Lauderdale, CSG Consultant Bldg. Official Rider, Asst. City Attorney Bazzano and Mgmt. Analyst Montemayor helped in preparing the item and would be available to answer any questions. She then presented the staff report.

Councilmember Bier stated that she got a question from an electrician which was “how can you just throw wire into a wall for future appliances when they all require different size wiring?”

CSG Consultant Bldg. Official Rider stated that you don’t.

Councilmember Bier asked about pre-wiring, clarifying that she though he was asking would you have to change all that wiring if there was a different size appliance that was going to put into the house.

CSG Consultant Bldg. Official Rider thought that the size of the wire was based on the amperage of the device they plan on plugging into it.

Councilmember Bier responded affirmatively.

CSG Consultant Bldg. Official Rider stated that, with advanced warning, you would be wiring based on the amperage of your future appliance that you are thinking about. He stated he was not familiar with induction and he didn’t know what the amperage is, but he stated that a stove used to be 30 or 50 amps and you would provide that. He stated that they used to build them that way with laundry rooms and kitchens that had gas and electric. He stated that, based on that, those would be the wiring that would be required.

Mayor Vaterlaus opened the public hearing.

John Keener, Pacifica, stated that, as Director Emeritus of Peninsula Clean Energy, he would like to express his support for inclusion of the Reach codes and also thanked Planning and Mayor pro Tem Martin, representative to Peninsula Clean Energy board for promoting this.

Kirsten Andrews-Schwind, Pacifica, stated she is a senior manager of community relations for Peninsula Clean Energy and a Pacifican, and she commends staff for their work on drafting the code. She stated that it was found to be cost effective by their consultants and a very reasonable approach for the city. She also referred to the PSPS, and stated that Peninsula Clean Energy just announced two new initiatives to support the installation of solar plus battery storage backup in the case of power outages, which is a lot cleaner and less noisy than the generators. She stated that two of the initiatives were for critical facilities, commending PW staff for reaching out to them on that opportunity, and businesses and residences. She stated that they just put out a request for proposals with a couple of sister agencies for installing solar plus battery storage backup on businesses and residences as basically a bulk purchase to bring down the cost and will become a cost effective option as they see those programs ramping up. She stated that they were looking to install 10 mega watts, a lot of battery storage, and it will be a big program and an easier and more affordable option for homeowners and businesses in the future.

Christine Kohl-Zaugg, Redwood City, stated she is the executive director at Sustainable San Mateo County, a non-profit whose vision is a sustainable future for everyone in San Mateo. She stated that they applaud Pacifica for continuing to default on the sustainability front and hope that at this meeting the Council will take advantage of the opportunity and approve the Reach code put forward by staff. She also asked that they consider strengthening it more by including all-electric in single family and three stories and less multi-family residences. She stated that, as leaders, they are aware that critical design decisions like this one are important, for both short term and long run. She stated that buildings putting up today will stay with us for decades and it was also faster, easier and far less costly to set things right from the get-go instead of having to come back afterwards to make necessary adjustments. She stated that they have the opportunity to send a signal loud and clear. She stated that, in light of San Mateo County’s recent climate emergency declaration, the time to act is now. She stated that those at SSMC are pleased to announce that they are having a special Reach Awards at their yearly awards ceremony next spring to celebrate cities like Pacifica. She and her teenage daughters thank them for the consideration and continued commitment to a sustainable future for everyone in this county and she applauds Pacifica’s leadership.

Carlos Davidson, Pacifica, thanked Council for putting this on the agenda and city staff for all their excellent work that went into this. He stated that Council has a rare opportunity to do something really important on climate change. He stated that Reach codes will reduce emissions in Pacifica, but more importantly, by acting and approving the Reach codes, Pacifica will be part of a whole group of cities around the bay who are moving on this, such as San Mateo, etc. He felt that it has a chance to move forward in an important way, and Pacifica has a chance to be part of the leaders in making it happen. Sometimes ideas come up and people move on it and it gathers steam, and that was what was happening with this. He stated that it was nice to do something on climate change that is also good for people in other ways, such as reducing cost for homeowners in construction as well as in operation, and also public health benefits of not having gas in the house regarding asthma and other health benefits as well as fire safety advantages, and he concluded that there were a lot of benefits in addition to climate change benefits. He urged Council to move forward on it. He thought, if they were thinking of strengthening it, they could phase out the gas exemption in cooking and think about a time line for phasing out the ADU exemption. He thought it was great to support ADUs but maybe they should say that it would be phased out in three years.

Robert Whitehair, San Mateo, stated that he was here because whatever they do in Pacifica or San Mateo affect each other. He encouraged Council to have as strong a Reach code as possible because it does a lot of things such as helping San Mateo. He stated that he lives in a 70-year-old house in San Mateo which is leaky and they are working on the insulation and windows. He stated that, as the stove or gas water heater goes out, they will be replacing it with electric models. He stated that they have a 50-amp service already sitting in their kitchen for electricity and a 30-amp service unused in the garage which he is going to use for the water heater, whether the resistance type or heat pump. He stated that what Pacifica does will affect their air quality as theirs affects Pacifica, but he felt it also creates a critical mass of people, contractors, manufacturers, etc., who can offer cost effective solutions. He stated that, if more people started selling all these appliances around the peninsula, the better for everyone. He stated that we don’t have the wherewithal to change out everything at once. He stated that they just put in solar panels and they have a battery. He stated that they would like to replace the water heater, dryer, etc. He stated that, when they do go out, he wants to be sure they have the crafts people, etc. He urged Council to adopt as strong a Reach code as possible. He stated that they might want to consider all electric, but what they are doing now is very welcome and helps San Mateo and he hopes they can help Pacifica in the same way. He encouraged Council to adopt a very strong Reach code.

Mayor Vaterlaus closed the public hearing.

Councilmember Beckmeyer stated that she asked a lot of questions about this when it first came forward because she didn’t know what a Reach code was and she thanked Mayor pro Tem Martin for providing a lot of information and links to help her educate herself on what this is all about. She was inclined to support it. She finds the request about ADUs as problematic for her because that is one of the most immediately available forms of affordable housing that we can actually inspire residents to undertake. She stated that there is a grant on which they are working with the county for streamlining all the permissions and she didn’t want to do anything that gets in the way of that. She stated that three years seems like a long time, but in terms of our ability to produce any substantial affordable housing, it was not that long. She stated that she sees ADUs being the answer for Pacifica in the short term.

Mayor pro Tem Martin asked if she was saying that ADUs was the answer for affordable housing.

Councilmember Beckmeyer stated that it was one of them.

Mayor pro Tem Martin agreed, adding that she thought it was a good thing for Pacifica to reach for being able to include as it was easier to do it now than later if it will be required later and more cost effective to do it now and include them. She stated that her proposal would be to have staff come back on a date where they will be able to suggest something and have it phased in by 2021 and get it on the books. In addition, she thought this was wonderful and she was excited that they were here and potentially raise her hand at the next board meeting and say they did it. She stated that cities keep getting ticked off in San Mateo County. She stated that we celebrate each other and the environment. She referred to people rushing out to get generators, etc. She stated that they got emails from propane people of American asking that they not ban propane and she did some research on that. She mentioned that we sort of live in the wilderness here and use propane. She stated that it did bring up a lot of other things for her. She mentioned a program in Pacifica called “map my neighborhood” and she tried to get it instituted in her neighborhood. She stated that, one thing you would have mentioned if you had a “map my neighborhood” program was who has a generator. She stated that she lives on a busy street and when she had a meeting one person showed up when she had invited about 20. She encouraged everyone to make friends with their neighbors and, if you have a generator, let them know you have them. She stated that she bought one that was battery powered and it lasts for 12 hours, adding that she will keep everyone posted. She thanked staff for working with Peninsula Clean Energy on this, stating that they are strong and they got over 20 emails of support from both local and county representatives.

Councilmember O’Neill stated that he would support this moving forward as is, but at a later date they could cover the topic of gas, electric only, and ADUs.

Councilmember Bier thanked Mayor pro Tem Martin for working so hard on all this and representing Pacifica at Peninsula Clean Energy. She agreed with Councilmembers Beckmeyer and O’Neill about the ADUs and the need to streamline construction for those and would support the ordinance as written.

Mayor Vaterlaus liked the exemption for gas cooking because for years everyone said they want gas for cooking because it was so much easier to cook, and especially for the ADUs. She thought it could be phased in later. She stated that, considering the power outage situation, it allows for people to still cook if we have power outages. She stated that it was already going to have electric in the background and she felt they were fine to go the way they are with the existing ordinance.

Councilmember O’Neill referred to the solar panels, and he assumed that it was the typical solar panel they all have that connects to the PG&E grid and not a small grid.

Planning Director Wehrmeister agreed, adding that one thing for a lay person to understand is that, when solar panels get put on their house, they are connected to the grid and if the grid is shut off, they do not have electricity and would need to invest in the actual battery backup that was mentioned by the PCE representative which is not required but is optional for anyone who would like to do that.

Mayor Vaterlaus stated that, regarding the generator, you must get permits and they must be installed by licensed electricians because, if not and a lineman goes out to fix a wire that is down and yours is hooked up directly to the grid, you could kill someone.

Councilmember O’Neill moved to introduce by title only and waive the first reading of an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Pacifica.

Councilmember O’Neill mentioned the three bullets and asked the Asst. City Attorney if he can do them all at once or individually.

Asst. City Attorney Bazzano stated that he can do it all at once in one motion, but she stated that the title of the ordinance needs to be read.

Councilmember O’Neill asked where that was on the page.

Asst. City Attorney Bazzano stated that it would be a motion to introduce by title only and waive the first reading of an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Pacifica, repealing and replacing Chapters 1 (Building Code), 2 )(Mechanical Code), 3 (Plumbing Code), 4 (Electrical Code), 5 (International Property Maintenance Code), 6 (Energy Code), 7 (Green Building Code), 7.5 (Residential Code), 8 (Historical Buildings Code), 8.5 (Existing Buildings Code), 9 (Reference Standards) of Title 8 of the Pacifica Municipal Code to adopt by reference the 2019 California Building Standards (California Code of Regulation, Title 24, Parts 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 20, 11 and 12) and the 2018 International Property Maintenance Code and making certain amendments thereto; repealing and replacing Article 1 (California Fire Code) of Chapter 3 (Fire Protection) of Title 4 of the Pacifica Municipal Code to adopt the 2019 California Fire Code and making certain amendments thereto, and finding adoption of the ordinance is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act and provide direction to staff to schedule the second reading of the ordinance on November 25, 2019.

Councilmember O’Neill stated that he so moved; seconded by Councilmember Beckmeyer.

MOVER:Mike O'Neill, Councilmember
SECONDER:Sue Beckmeyer, Councilmember
AYES:Sue Vaterlaus, Deirdre Martin, Sue Beckmeyer, Mary Bier, Mike O'Neill