CRA files suits against City of Berkeley over natural gas ban

Government Affairs



Why is the California Restaurant Association (CRA) suing the City of Berkeley?

Earlier this year, the City of Berkeley banned natural gas infrastructure — effectively banning natural gas use — in newly-constructed buildings. The ban, which violates both state and federal law, will impact both residential and commercial construction, and will have uniquely negative impacts on restaurants.  The CRA is acting to protect the interests of its members.     


How are restaurants impacted by the ban?

It would be difficult to overstate these impacts, which are numerous. Whether searing steaks, charring vegetables, or stir-frying noodles, chefs and cooks rely on the most important tool in the creation of a dish – fire.


There are also economic impacts. Many restaurants use gas to heat water and space and for other appliances.  This ban will raise costs to build and operate restaurants.  Restaurant owners may simply choose not to move to or construct new buildings because they will not have access to natural gas.


Perhaps most worrisome is the question of how this ban will exacerbate the already damaging impact of ongoing, planned electricity blackouts meant to prevent wildfires – blackouts that affect the restaurant industry along with everyone else. With California’s energy grid often under tremendous strain, a ban on gas appliances is not responsible, and its impact won’t be limited only to restaurants.


Why can’t restaurants cook with electric stoves?

The temperature control needed for much of restaurant cooking requires visually gauging the cooking flame, manipulating the intensity of the heat, and being able to scale the temperature up or down in a split second. Thus, the ordinance will reduce the types of cuisines available to Berkeley residents. It will also make meaningless much of the culinary training that some of the finest chefs have received. Simply put, a ban on natural gas is not something to which restaurants can adapt.


A natural gas ban won’t just change the way restaurant kitchens do their cooking; limiting energy choices will affect many appliances and energy systems in buildings and likely make energy costs rise beyond their already-high rates.


What is the CRA’s aim in filing this lawsuit? Do you want to overturn the ordinance?

The City’s ordinance is unlawful and, beyond the direct harm to restaurants, it is likely to affect energy prices in the years to come. Thus, we believe the City should rethink its action and rescind the ordinance banning natural gas.


Read the CRA’s press release dated 11.21.19 in the link to the right.