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Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations
Posted on 03/08/2019

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations

 San Ramon has begun to see an increased number of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station installations throughout the City, specifically in a number of shopping centers and office complexes.  This increase in EV charging stations is in response to the State’s increased emphasis placed on electric vehicles to help address the State’s climate policies.  To further support the use of electric vehicles, the State as adopted legislation to support and streamline the installation electric EV charging stations.  State law AB 1236, (2015) is intended to establish consistent Statewide standards to achieve the timely and cost-effective installation of EV charging stations throughout the State.  The State law goes further to specifically to declare its intent as follows: 

  • “The implementation of consistent statewide standards to achieve the timely and cost-effective installation of electric vehicle charging stations is not a municipal affair, as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution, but is instead a matter of statewide concern.”
  • “It is the intent of the Legislature that local agencies not adopt ordinances that create unreasonable barriers to the installation of electric vehicle charging stations and not unreasonably restrict the ability of homeowners and agricultural and business concerns to install electric vehicle charging stations.”
  • “It is the policy of the state to promote and encourage the use of electric vehicle charging stations and to limit obstacles to their use.”
  • “It is the intent of the Legislature that local agencies comply not only with the language of this section, but also the legislative intent to encourage the installation of electric vehicle charging stations by removing obstacles to, and minimizing costs of, permitting for charging stations so long as the action does not supersede the building official’s authority to identify and address higher priority life-safety situations.”

 As a result of AB 1236, the City has limited discretion when reviewing EV charging station projects.   State law limits City review authority to non-discretionary review (i.e. Building Permit/Architectural Review) and requires regulations to be based on standards which do not have a specific, adverse impact on public health or safety. Notably, public welfare standards (i.e. aesthetics) are not part of the established local standards allowed by State law.  As a result, the City is limited from prohibiting EV charging station projects based on aesthetics or site location alone.

EV station

Figure 1: Recent EV Charging Station Installation at 2610 Bishop Drive (Target).

The City’s Zoning Ordinance does require that all EV charging stations to comply with the existing parking lot development standards (parking space and drive-aisle dimensions, etc.), landscape standards, and requires the review and approval of a Minor Use Permit (MUP) application if the number of EV charging spaces exceeds five (5) percent of the total number of on-site parking spaces required.  In the case of larger shopping centers or office complexes, this requirement is rarely triggered because of the large parking fields.  The City does have the ability to require non-accessible EV parking spaces to be made available to all vehicle types to ensure that parking in proximity to the existing businesses is maintained. The State Building Code, also requires Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible EV charging spaces under certain circumstances; however, those spaces are more restrictive based on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

The City will continue to review new EV charging station projects consistent with State law and all applicable City Zoning Ordinance and State Building Code requirements.  Please contact the Planning Services Division at (925) 973-2560 or at [email protected] if you have any questions or comments.