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California city becomes nation’s first to permanently ban construction of new gas stations

March 1, 2021, 6:10 PM UTC

Petaluma, Calif., has become the nation’s first city to prohibit the building of new gas stations, an edict that underlines the movement toward electric vehicles.

City officials last week unanimously passed a bill that would continue an existing two-year moratorium indefinitely. A final reading is scheduled for Monday. The bill does not impact the operation of the city’s 16 existing gas stations or the one that was approved but has not yet been built. Those stations will not be allowed to add more pumps, however.

“Based on this inventory, there are multiple stations located within a five-minute drive (2.1 miles at 25 mph) of every existing residence as well as all areas planned for residential development by the 2025 General Plan but not yet constructed,” the bill says.

The bill will also make it easier for existing stations to add electric vehicle charging stations and other alternate fuel stations on their premises.

California hopes to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, but Petaluma is taking a more ambitious path, with a goal of hitting that mark by 2030. The ban on gas stations is the first step to achieve that.

Petaluma is a relatively small city in Sonoma County, 37 miles north of San Francisco. It covers 15 square miles, has a population of roughly 61,000, and is popular with beer and wine tourists.

The movement could grow too. An organization called the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations has been pushing to stop construction of gas stations throughout all of Sonoma county. And California last year said it would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars starting in 2035.