Benicians Could Pay More for Home Renovations

Home renovation projects will be required to include energy-efficient elements.

Benicia homeowners who add 600 square feet to their homes or have home renovation projects valued at $20,000 or more will be encouraged to make the projects energy and water efficient. The City Council voted on Tuesday to amend the California Green Building Standards Code so it applies to room additions as well as new single family homes in Benicia.

The California Green Building Standards Code that took effect on January 1 requires new home construction to include energy and water conservation measures and to cut down on the amount of construction waste going to landfills.  The law also allows cities to adopt amendments that are stricter than state law.

The ordinance adopted by the council on a three to one vote encourages home renovation projects of 600 square feet or more or residential construction projects valued at more than $20,000 to  include energy efficiency upgrades.

The cost of the required efficiencies doesn't have to exceed two percent of the project cost.

The ordinance lists a variety of efficiencies like low-flush toilets, energy-efficient lights fixtures and double-paned windows.

Currently, for renovations that add more than 500 square feet, home-owners are required to make a monetary donation to local schools based on a percentage of the project's total cost.

During her weekly office hours Mayor   said the increased costs could be recouped. "At the end of the day there are really great cost savings," said the mayor.  ""With some of these thing you can recover your cost in the first year."

Sustainability Commissioner and local businessman spoke of the upgrades he voluntarily made to his home during renovations. The energy upgrades cut his energy bill in half, despite the renovations tripling the size of his home.

Vice-Mayor opposed the ordinance, suggesting that Benician's already lean towards green features in their homes. He also wanted to defer implementation of the ordinance.

Councilman 's concern was about the word requirement, which he feared could cause knee-jerk reactions from the public.

Karen Burns was concerned about the ability of those on fixed incomes to pay the extra costs associated with the new ordinance.  Public Works Director said that considerations could be made for qualifying low income home-owners.

The possibility of delaying the new code for up to a year was discussed, which would allow the Building Division time to gather statistics on how many home-owners voluntarily include green upgrades during renovations. 

That was idea ultimately rejected in favor of a review of the program in nine months.  After the review the council can decide if the ordinance needs adjustment.

Karen LaRiviere July 20, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Just a correction to my above post, it's Title 24 of the California Energy Commission Building Code Requirements that requires energy efficient lighting in all new construction and remodels. It has been on the books for quite some time and was amended and made more stringent effective January 1, 2010. I don't believe Mayor Patterson was on that Commission.
Robert Livesay July 20, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Karen look at the mayors resume. That will tell you everything. I do care how she feels, Do I have to feel that way also? I sure hope that is not what you are advocating. I will obey all regulations, does that mean I have to like them. I drive within the speed limit, I may not like it but I do. I follow all safety regulations and rules. I allow no smoking in my car or house. tThat is my choice. If they want to go out on the deck that is ok with me. I like landscaping around my house that takes lots of water is that OK? That is what I like and the last time I heard there was no law against it. But believe me it is coming. We need to drill for more oil and burn it clean. It can happen. Give it a try. Take a look at what happened in California with car emmissions. Bob Livesay
Karen LaRiviere July 20, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Bob, unless I missed something, it looks as though the Council just memorialized what the State already required. The requirements would only kick in if 600 sf or more was being added or the cost was more than $20,000. The ordinance is not mandating gold plated toilets or anything that isn't really already common practice or required by California Building Codes. As for the kinds of cars people drive, wasting water washing your car in your driveway, etc., I don't think there are any Benicia ordinances that dictate any of that, nor do I think the Mayor has anything to do with whether or not you drive your land yacht to Walnut Creek or Concord. Those are personal choices that you make that have nothing to do with anyone telling you that you cannot do that. I would love to see a Trader Joe's in Benicia, although I don't think that's what Mr. Seeno had in mind for his property. Any other energy efficient requirements were made by the California Energy Commission, not local politicians. As for any loss in property values, making a home more energy efficient was certainly not the cause of any decline (and my home is worth more than I paid for it so I get an additional bonus with lower energy costs!) No one said you have to agree with the Mayor or anyone else for that matter, but it is silly to blame her for everything you disagree with but I wouldn't want you to go away, Benicia would be so boring again without your posts. :)
Robert Livesay July 20, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Thanks Karen, I do believe you believe that. As you know i do love making comments. Some are a little far out, but most are not far off. I was very fortunate to be able to talk to my GGmother who was born in 1842, think about that. She would always tell me that things were going to change and all for the better. For the most part she was right. She loved my fathers machine {that is what they called cars back then} i use that term now and then. She always made my father take her for a ride, she loved every minute of it. Lots of things will change and for the most part that is good. if you have followed my comments on the mayor you would know what my major concern is. I think you know. i will let you tell me. Thanks for the very nice words. i also like your comments and concerns. Bob Livesay
Robert Livesay July 20, 2011 at 07:38 PM
By the way what goes on at the Seeno property is under complete control of the city not Seeno. Bob Livesay


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