Last year, Petaluma councilwoman D’Lynda Fischer led an effort to prohibit new gas stations in her small city of 60,000.
“We didn’t know what we were doing, actually,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “We didn’t know we were the first in the world when we banned gas stations.”
At the time, Petaluma officials called the ban “completely uncontroversial.”
It’s hard to say if that’s true, given the national implications. Now, the gas station ban is a new weapon in California’s fight to decrease carbon emissions. And it’s already drawing ire from the fuel industry.
Could L.A., with just over 2,000 gas stations in 2020, be next? It might be an uphill battle.
“It’s really up to cities to turn around climate change,” says Andy Shrader, L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz’s director of environmental affairs. It was Koretz who proposed that L.A. move toward its own ban on new gas stations. The motion hasn’t gained a foothold, although the council anticipates a hearing soon.
Koretz says banning gas stations will better prepare Californians for the electric-car future. The state has promised to stop selling fossil-fuel vehicles by 2035 and has invested heavily in electric vehicles.
“Given Governor Newsom’s timeline to end the sale of gas vehicles by 2035, gas stations are a dying business,” Koretz told the Times.
West Hollywood is thinking about restricting gas stations. It’s city council “approved a directive” in April 2021 “for officials to evaluate the plan before developing a law.” It could feasibly see a full vote by the end of the year.
Five neighborhood councils—Westside, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park and North Westwood—submitted statements in support of the motion, at least three of which voted unanimously to support the proposal, according to the Times.
The opposition is out in full force. The California Fuels & Convenience Alliance lobbies for gas station owners and is against gas station bans.
“Not being able to serve the people who live there, who are commuting to work, picking up their kids from soccer practice—is really a disservice to people who are new to the area,” says Sam Bayless, the alliance’s policy director.
Gas stations, he said, are an “essential service.”
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