Supes introduce ordinance streamlining electric vehicle charging stations permit process

A proposed ordinance amendment would allow for an expedited permitting process for electric vehicle charging stations in Lassen County.

During the Tuesday, Nov. 17 Lassen County Board of Supervisors meeting, the board introduced an ordinance which would add a chapter to the Lassen County Code encouraging the use of electric vehicles by creating an expedited, streamlined permitting process for electric vehicle charging stations. The board voted 3-1 to introduce the ordinance, with Jeff Hemphill voting no. The item will come back for possible adoption at the Dec. 8 meeting.

According to Gaylon Norwood, planning and building services assistant director, jurisdictions in California with a population of 200,000 or less were supposed to have an ordinance accepting building permits for electric charging stations by September 2017 through Assembly Bill 1236.

Few cities and counties adopted an ordinance though, including Lassen County, according to Norwood. However, now, posed with potentially more strict stipulations in the Electrify America sponsored Assembly Bill 2168, which has yet to be adopted, the RCRC — Representing California Rural Counties — is encouraging members to adopt the original ordinance so the AB 2168 proposed time limitations do not become applicable unless it is adopted.

“This doesn’t mandate that any (electric vehicle charging stations) be built, it just says that if a private company wants to build an electric vehicle charging station that this is how it has to be processed,” said Norwood.

The intent of the state-mandated ordinance is to encourage use of electric vehicle charging stations and to limit regulatory obstacles to their use by expediting the process, including making it exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, according to the staff report.

However, there were some comments from board members about it being overreach from the state and a waste of time, and ultimately, the board voted to introduce to the ordinance 3-1.

Meeting attendee Gary Felt expressed his desire to have more charging stations locally.

“Once you can put in an electric vehicle charging station, you’re now in everybody’s smart phone on an app … and Susanville would show up as a place that has a charging station. An hour and a half, two hours, maybe you’re charging your vehicle and passing through Susanville, you plug in your vehicle – what are you going to do? Let’s get out and walk around … get a sandwich, go to a couple of business,” said Felt.

“I see it as a relatively low-expense commitment,” said Felt, adding people driving up for local trails from areas like the Bay Area could be in electric vehicles and searching for places they could charge their cars. “I think there’s value … We are trying to promote tourism in visitors to Lassen County, Susanville.”

The ordinance will be back before the board for consideration of adoption at the Dec. 8 meeting.