Sebastopol, an agri-artsy Sonoma outpost about an hour north of San Francisco, can now claim bragging rights as being the second city in California where all newly built homes — commercial buildings and major residential remodels/additions, too — must be equipped with solar systems. Earlier this year, the high desert city of Lancaster in northeast Los Angeles County became the first to enact such a measure under the leadership of renewables-obsessed Republican mayor/Kenny Rogers doppelganger, Rex Parris.

As reported by the Santa Rose Press Democrat, Sebastopol Mayor Michael Kyes comes across as being just a touch resentful: "We were going to be number one. Now we're number two.”

What’s perhaps most fascinating here — and perhaps the root of Kyes’ runner-up status bitterness — is how wildly different Sebastopol and Lancaster are. The former is a sleepy, super-liberal town of less than 8,000 residents including, once upon a time, Jerry Garcia. Police officers drive hybrids, city landscaping is pesticide-free, and although now primarily vinous in character, the big annual event is an apple fair.  With a population of more than 155,000 and roots in the aerospace industry and not agriculture, Lancaster is not only larger but also dramatically more conservative in nature:

Kyes noted that Lancaster is a ‘Republican community’ and that Sebastopol is ‘liberal,’ asserting that speaks to the ‘broad support’ for solar power.
The new building ordinance in Sebastopol is rather straightforward: all new homes will be required to include solar systems that provide 2 watts of photovoltaic-derived power per square foot of insulated building area. Or, according to the Press Democrat, the system must offset at least 75 percent of the building’s total annual electric load. Homes and businesses constructed in areas were solar isn’t possible must either pay a fee or look into other means of alternative energy.

Noting that his fair and fertile town already produces 1.2 megawatts of solar energy through a municipal program, Kyes notes that the newly passed ordinance “will add to it. Keep greenhouse gases from getting worse.”

The ordinance will go into effect 60 days after it receives the final stamp of approval from the Sebastopol City Council and will not apply to homes and other in-the-works building projects already on file with the city.

Any Sebastopol residents care to chime in with your thoughts about the new ordinance?

Via [The Press Democrat] via [Grist]

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