Compromising Cuisine to the Cretins
Although a federal appeals court in California ruled that local governments can’t ban gas stoves, some cities in California are still trying to ban gas stoves. According to James Freeman in the WSJ, a Palo Alto celebrity chef has called the bluff of progressive politicos at portions of Stanford University’s home city.
But the city’s response suggests there are more battles to be fought before the average consumer is free to sear and sauté in peace.
Can local residents not even enjoy freedom from lawless intrusions in their own kitchens?
Making the Bullies Concede
In the Palo Alto Weekly, Gennady Sheyner reports on the chef who “made the bullies back down:”
Faced with a threat of a lawsuit, Palo Alto administrators have reversed their earlier decision and will now allow the new restaurant that chef José Andrés plans to open at Stanford Shopping Center to use natural gas.
The restaurant, Zaytinya, is one of three buildings that the mall operator, Simon Property Group (SPG), is planning to build at the location of the shuttered Macy’s men’s store. Simon applied for the project in 2019 and received approvals from the city’s Architectural Review Board and from planning staff. All of these approved plans included a gas line, which the developer installed in 2021.
Palo Alto enacted a requirement: new buildings have to be all-electric. When SPG was told it would have to comply, the mall operator reasonably threatened to sue the city.
SPG Punches Back:
“SPG is confident that the enforcement of the new Reach Code in this context is legally defective and unconstitutional, and SPG is thus prepared to take all actions necessary to enforce its legal rights to employ gas facilities…,” Anna Shimko, an attorney for SPG Group, LLC, wrote to the city.
Ms. Shimko also noted that Zaytinya relies on “traditional cooking methods that require gas appliances to achieve its signature, complex flavors.”
No one, continues the WSJ, “should have to compromise cuisine for these cretins, regardless of the caliber.”
Californians are free to achieve whatever flavors they can create with the stoves they are free to purchase.
From a Journal editorial:
“Without a gas connection and appliances, Zaytinya would be forced to alter its signature five-star menu, which it is unwilling to do,”
Shimko wrote. “Zaytinya cannot compromise the caliber of its cuisine and reputation, and if SPG cannot provide gas in Building EE, Zaytinya will likely choose not to locate within the City. This would be an unfortunate loss for the residents of Palo Alto, as well as a compensable loss for which SPG would be forced to seek redress.”
From The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:
Berkeley, Calif., in 2019 became the first city to prohibit natural gas connections in new buildings. San Jose, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and others have followed…
Hold on Here
The California Restaurant Association challenged Berkeley’s ban in federal court, arguing that the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) pre-empts local regulation of gas appliances. A lower-court judge disagreed but was overruled Monday by a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel.
Poking the Rule of Law in the Eye
A statement from the City of Palo Alto claims that this week’s surrender to a celebrity chef “is a unique situation.” Palo Alto is making it clear that it has no intention of ending its harassment of everyday consumers, even after a federal appeals court has demanded an end to this intolerable war on good cooking and good sense.
Except for this one-off situation, Palo Alto’s all-electric requirement is being implemented for all new projects and substantial remodels. Building electrification is critical to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Electric appliances and building systems provide clean and healthy environments in homes and businesses and in many respects, the new technologies perform better than the gas-emitting appliances they are replacing.
Then why, asks Mr. Freeman, does Palo Alto have to bully people into accepting all-electric requirements—in defiance of federal law?
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