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Developers must be aware of municipal environmental ordinances

by | Apr 21, 2020 | Construction Law

Property owners and developers in California are already aware that the state has numerous complex regulations regarding real estate development. In addition to state laws, cities and counties can impose their own restrictions that apply to projects in their municipalities.

The thicket of regulatory actions can be difficult to navigate. However, regulation compliance is absolutely crucial for the successful, cost-effective completion of real estate projects of all kinds.

Municipal regulations are often stricter than state laws

In 2019, the CEC created the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, which updated and improved up on the commission’s 2016 standards. Municipalities, however, can pass regulations that are more strict than statewide law.

For example, San Mateo County recently passed a much more restrictive ordinance regarding natural gas that affects projects initiated after 2020. The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved it last December. The ordinance restricts the use of natural gas and grants initiatives for the installation of electric rather than gas appliances. Marin County and the cities of San Jose, Menlo Park, West Hollywood and Santa Monica chose to enact similar ordinances as well.

Regulation compliance is key to successful development

It is not enough for real estate developers or individual property owners and their counsel to adhere to energy laws at the state level. It is crucial to carefully research all regulations that apply to development projects. Parties must then communicate with construction companies, contractors and property owners to ensure the compliance of everyone involved.

Non-compliance with municipal regulations can lead to expensive fines or other harsh civil penalties. Parties that do not obey city and county laws may face additional consequences such as delays to their construction projects, strained relations with municipal boards and other bodies, negative publicity and depletion of resources due to legal fees.