Green is fine if you can be cute about it: cute little hybrid cars, cute little permanent shopping bags boasting about your green-ness, and cute locally grown arugala. But is Green still fine if your City requires that, as a matter of law, you spend up to $30,000 to bring your home into compliance with the City’s eco ideas? ‘Cause that’s what’s happening in Berkeley (emphasis mine):
Berkeley officials Tuesday stood by their plan to require homeowners to make extensive energy efficiency improvements to their homes, but appeared to back off the more costly elements of the proposal.
“Our goal is to get into everyone’s home with a checklist of cost-efficient improvements,” said the city’s planning director, Dan Marks. “But I don’t see us forcing people to spend $30,000.”
Depending on the house and the residents’ energy habits, the improvements could be as little as $100 for caulking and sealant, or upward of $30,000 for a new roof, windows, appliances and furnace.
The upgrades are part of the city’s 145-page Climate Action Plan, which the City Council was expected to approve Tuesday night. In addition to home improvement requirements, the plan calls for a broad range of Earth-friendly programs intended to help the city meet its Measure G goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
The portion of the plan that applies to home improvements sparked an uproar this week from residents fearful the city would require them to spend large sums on new windows and other pricey amenities.
They may have to in the next 10 to 15 years, but probably not now, Marks said.
“Right now we’re talking more in the $10,000 range,” he said, noting that the improvements would only be required when a home is sold or remodeled, but that in the future, the improvements would be required of all homes. “If we’re going to meet these Measure G goals, we’ve got to get into people’s homes.”
Right now, I suspect that some homeowners have taken their little AlGore dolls, formerly placed in positions of honor on their desks and shelves, and are sticking pins in them.
UPDATE: The Berkeley City Council discovered very quickly that, to the extent it affects their financial interests, people are green only if they want to be green, not if the government forces them to be. The City has therefore withdrawn, at least temporarily, its plan to invade people’s homes and dictate the details.