Berkeley bans natural gas in new homes, drops gendered language from city codes

More bans are being implemented in Berkeley, California.

The Bay Area city has become the first in the nation to ban natural gas lines from being installed in new low-rise residential buildings. The City Council voted in favor of the measure that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The new homes will instead be required to have electric infrastructure. Berkeley councilwoman Kate Harrison, who spearheaded the ordinance, said natural gas is an “enormous issue” when it comes to climate change.

“We need to really tackle this. When we think about pollution and climate-change issues, we tend to think about factories and cars, but all buildings are producing greenhouse gas,” Harrison told the newspaper on Wednesday.

Berkeley, California, voted Tuesday to ban natural gas in new homes and to drop gendered language from city codes. (iStock)

The city will hire an employee who will be responsible for ensuring new buildings follow the law in the new year. Officials voted to allocate $273,341 per year for a two-year staff position in the city's planning and development department.

David Hochschild, chairman of California Energy Commission, said Berkeley was starting a future trend and claimed 50 other California cities, including San Francisco, are considering a similar natural gas ban.

“That is how change happens,” Hochschild said during a Tuesday night meeting. “Right now, in California, we have a big focus on cleaning up the building sector because there are more emissions coming from combustion natural gas in our buildings than our entire state power plant fleet.”

Berkeley was the first U.S. city to ban smoking in restaurants and bars in 1977. The city already prohibits plastic straws and bags and approved a law earlier this year that would require food establishments to charge a 25-cent fee on single-use cups starting in 2020.

On Tuesday, the City Council also passed an ordinance that barred gendered language in the city’s municipal code, the Chronicle reported. The words, such as manhole and manpower, will be replaced with neutral terms such as “maintenance hole” and “human effort” or “workforce.”

Updating city forms will cost Berkeley an estimated $600.

The pronouns “she,” “he,” “her” and “him,” will be replaced with “they” and “them.” “Men and women” will be replaced with “people,” or “a single gender” when referring to a male or female.


More than 24 words will be affected by the new rule, the newspaper reported.