News from the California Restaurant Association
The following article is a press release from the California Restaurant Association regarding the City of Berkeley’s attempt to ban natural gas. A similar proposal has been floated at the State level. The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce opposes any attempt on the part of government agencies to deny small business owners access to affordable energy to operate their businesses.
Berkeley, CA: The California Restaurant Association filed a complaint today in US District Court against the City of Berkeley as part of an effort to protect restaurants from a misguided and unlawful ban on the use of natural gas. The CRA filed the lawsuit to protect Berkeley’s businesses and consumers from bearing the brunt of higher energy costs, as well as ensure the City’s vibrant culinary community is able to continue preparing and serving the food it has become well-known for.
As documented in the attached complaint, the ordinance violates long-established state and federal law, but more importantly, the City’s decision will negatively impact restaurants and other energy users – and those impacts are likely to spread beyond the four walls of newly constructed buildings, the structures where it bans natural gas infrastructure.
Berkeley’s rush to become the first electrified city in the state was a drastic step that will have a long list of negative impacts: restaurants and residents in newly-built structures will not have the ability to use gas stoves or heat their homes or businesses using natural gas. “We believe that the Berkeley ban represents the start of efforts to ban or severely restrict all natural gas use,” said President and CEO of the California Restaurant Association, Jot Condie. “It’s impossible to overstate how irresponsible this is at a time when millions of Californians find themselves in the dark due to planned power outages. The citizens of California need reliable and affordable energy that allows them to choose what appliances they have in their homes and businesses.”
Passed by the Berkeley City Council on July 16, the ordinance is set to take effect on January 1, Thus, the CRA is seeking injunctive relief, aimed at stopping enforcement of the ordinance, which would otherwise begin in just weeks. The lawsuit contends the natural gas ban is invalid and unenforceable under the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act and California’s Energy Code and Building Standards Code, and that it is an unlawful use of the police power to amend state building codes.
Beyond California’s dependence on natural gas as a key energy source, there is an additional, drastic impact unique to restaurants: this ban would effectively prohibit the preparation of flame-seared meats, charred vegetables, or the use of intense heat from a flame under a wok. “An overwhelming majority of chefs and cooks are trained using natural gas stoves, with pots and pans over a flame produced by natural gas,” said Robert W. Phillips, a professional chef and chairman of the Chef De Cuisine Association of California. “This ban will slow down the process of cooking and reduce a chef’s control over the amount and intensity of heat which is needed to prepare food appropriately. It’s like taking paint away from a painter and asking them to create a masterpiece.”
California Restaurant Association: The California Restaurant Association (CRA) is the largest nonprofit statewide trade association in the nation and is committed to advocating for restaurants on a slate of local, state, and national issues. The CRA keeps California restaurateurs informed about the latest regulations impacting their businesses. California is home to more than 90,000 eating and drinking places that employ 1.6 million workers, making restaurants an indisputable driving force in the state’s economy.