The town’s efforts to pass an all-electric reach code for new residential construction in order to curb Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHGs), came to fruition with it passing 4-0-1 at the Oct. 16 meeting of the Windsor Town Council. However, the controversy is far from over as the town expects to be faced with law suits under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) from the development community.
Public comment was split slightly in favor of passing the code, though the development community had been out in force in previous meetings. Several councilmembers had sharp words for those seeming to put profit before the planet.
“I don’t think there’s much room to compromise. This is only on new construction and I urge the council to adopt it,” said Councilmember Sam Salmon. “We know we’re under the threat of litigation, at least. I know that it very well may be adopted, and a lawsuit filed and we may revoke it. But, the key here is to proceed and let the public know what we’re up against in terms of climate protection. I hope the public understands that even if it doesn’t stay, this will make the public more aware of the fight to save this planet.”
“In the early ’80s I worked with people who wrote CEQA, and it’s really sad to me when I see CEQA misused. Its sad to me when I see a local developer using it to try to subvert something good for the environment,” said Vice Mayor Deborah Fudge. “We are in a climate emergency. There is no more time to talk. We may already be too late. We must do all of it, everything, and be at net zero by 2050. We have to start now, we know that even those who fight us know that.
“It is precedent setting and that’s why the threat is being thrown at us. It’s a scare tactic. To me it feels like a bully tactic. This isn’t just about Windsor, it is about setting a precedent, and it’s hard but we have a moral imperative. As a society we need to think beyond individual preferences and think about the good of the whole,” she concluded.
“I’m starting to feel like a broken record, this is the fourth time I’ve expressed concerns over climate crisis, and I guess I’m not really sure what else to say,” said Councilmember Esther Lemus. “I think about my children, I think about future generations and conversations with my 11-year-old who has expressed concern and fears about the changes and faced my reluctance to be completely honest with her about her future. That I think about whether or not she should have children.
“I’ve mentioned I have serious concerns, this is very real, and unfortunately there is failure to act all over the place. I’m aware of the risk of litigation, do I want it? No. Do I anticipate it? Yes. But I’m going to support this. I have to be true to this issue and the concerns about the future and we all have to play a part here and we all have to make adjustments. Perhaps a few months from now, may have to adjust this. We’ll see,” she concluded.
Mayor Dominic Foppoli by and large was in favor of the code though he did attempt a last minute amendment to exempt homes over a certain size so those with larger families had a more cost effective option, but it gained no traction, and he voted in favor anyway.
The significant holdout was Bruce Okrepkie, who expressed concerns over making too hasty of a move without knowing the true future benefits or impacts.
“Sometimes this happens in the political arena, we don’t look at implications,” he said, stating his preference for a different alternative where electric is favored but not mandated. “We all believe in climate protection, but do I pass this and spend taxpayers’ money or do (I look at other alternatives), that will provide better options? I think to me that makes more sense, and maybe further down the line once the plan is in place, once the power plants and government figure out how to make it more affordable, we can reconsider.”
Okrepkie ended up abstaining in the final vote.