The local city council of Petaluma, California unanimously voted last week that their city would ban new gas stations from being built. Petaluma made a similar ban in 2019, which would last for two years, and this new agreement continues this decision. If the measure is once again approved, the bill will immediately go into effect, making Petaluma the first city in the United States to permanently ban the construction of new gas stations.
At only 15 square mines, Petaluma currently has 16 gas stations. Officials from Petaluma state that has one gas station for about every 4,000 residents is more than enough for the small area. However, there is still yet another gas station on the way, which will be an addition to a Safeway grocery store. Petaluma has stated their plan is for the city to get down to zero emissions by 2030, and state that the future of cars is electric, so other cities should start planning in a similar fashion.
This ban would stop new gas stations from being built in Petaluma, and would also ban existing gas stations from adding new pumps. However, under this ban, gas stations can add stations to charge electric vehicles and possible hydrogen fuel cell stations.
Petaluma also announced that the city would transition its power usage to Evergreen, Sonoma Clean Power’s 100% local, renewable energy service. According to the city of Petaluma’s official site, Sonoma Clean Power offers 100% renewable, locally produced energy for day and night for homes and businesses. The company uses geothermal energy and solar energy, which eliminate the need for natural gas.
Petaluma’s step forward could be the first of many cities moving towards renewable energy and away from gas power. The Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations is also working to ban gas stations in Sonoma County, California, and the nine cities within the county. Despite this shift for the city, it does not look as though existing gas stations are looking to abandon Petaluma, despite the possibility of growth. It will be interesting to see if Petaluma’s shift towards zero emissions by 2030 will cause gas stations to eventually leave the city, or if they will evolve to look forward to an all-electric vehicle future.
This move towards electric vehicles and renewable energy sources for homes and businesses seems to be an excellent standard for cities going forward. Especially considering how many gas stations occupy such a small city as Petaluma, it’s clear that so many stations aren’t needed by so few people. Plus, with many carmakers like GM dedicating their companies to push for electric cars, cities probably won’t need gas as much in the future anyway.
While Petaluma seems to be a rather forward-thinking city, one that looks fairly likely to reach its 2030 goal, it’s unclear how many other cities will follow Petaluma’s trend. Hopefully, Petaluma will be an example for other cities – both big and small – and will show that major changes in terms of energy can be made, and relatively easily.