City of Santa Monica

Staff Report

Electric Vehicle Charging Reach Code Amendments for New Construction


Department:Public Works, Office of Sustainability & EnvironmentSponsors:
Category:07. Ordinances

Recommended Action

Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:

1.     Adopt the attached resolution that provides findings of local climatic, geological, topographical, and environmental conditions as required to adopt Santa Monica local amendments to the 2019 California Green Building Standards Code; and

2.     Introduce for first reading the attached ordinance that adopts Santa Monica local amendments to the 2019 California Green Building Standards Code to support increased access to electric vehicle charging.

Staff Report Body

Executive Summary

Vehicle registration data indicates that Santa Monica residents are purchasing electric vehicles at nearly three times the rate of the rest of Los Angeles CountyThe availability of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure is a critical component of EV adoption and supports the City’s carbon emissions reduction goals outlined in the EV Action Plan and the Climate Action & Adaptation Plan. Robust requirements for EV charging infrastructure in newly constructed buildings prevent expensive future retrofit costs. The state adopted new minimum standards for EV charging infrastructure in the 2019 code cycle (effective as of January 1, 2020). Though a step forward, it is unlikely the new requirements for multi-family dwellings and non-residential buildings are enough to keep pace with growing demand for EV charging. 


Establishing requirements to increase EV charging availability (also referred to as EV readiness) is a tool to support EV adoption among residents and employees by facilitating convenient and equitable charging access. As the City’s electricity supply has transitioned to renewable energy sources, the energy powering these vehicles would emit near-zero to zero carbon emissions.


In this report, staff proposes local amendments to the 2019 California Building Standards Code that reach beyond the state’s EV charging infrastructure requirements in order to meet local and statewide EV adoption goals. The proposal requires:


a)     New single-family developments must include 1 EV ready space per unit (including the breaker);

b)     For new multifamily developments, 10% of parking spaces must be equipped with EV chargers, 10% must be EV-ready (fully wired, including breakers, to support future EV charger installation); and the remaining 80% must be equipped with conduit or raceway to facilitate future wiring to support EV charger installations.

c)     For new hotels/motels and non-residential developments, 10% of parking spaces must be equipped with EV chargers and 30% must be raceway/conduit equipped. At office parking facilities, an additional 10% of spaces must be EV ready.


City staff have reviewed cost-effectiveness studies of “EV Readiness” requirements that demonstrate savings of up to $5,000 per parking space and have evaluated model municipal code language to develop the proposed ordinance (Attachment D) and resolution (Attachment E). In addition, staff held four stakeholder workshops and received support for the proposed requirements from the Task Force on the Environment and the Building & Fire Life Safety Commission.



The transportation sector accounts for 64% of greenhouse gas emissions in Santa Monica. To achieve carbon neutrality, net increases in carbon emissions must be mitigated by electrifying the transportation sector, and electric vehicles play a large role in this transition. Access to charging infrastructure is critical to support and encourage the shift to clean fuel vehicles.


As of December 2019, 4.3% of registered vehicles in Santa Monica were fully electric or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). This rate is projected to increase significantly as vehicle prices continue to decrease, more electric models with longer battery ranges become available on the market, and access to public and private EV charging infrastructure increases. The average range for fully electric vehicles available in 2020 is 243 miles, which is more than double that of early EV models. The technology advancements are making EVs a feasible option for more people, including residents of multi-family buildings with limited charging availability.


In November 2017, City Council adopted the EV Action Plan (Attachment A), which includes strategies to remove barriers to EV adoption. This includes adding public charging infrastructure in addition to adopting building code updates that require greater levels of EV charging infrastructure in new buildings than required by the existing state code.


The California Building Standards Code (CBSC, Title 24) consists of 13 parts that apply to the design, construction, and alteration of public and private buildings and equipment. Cities and counties can adopt reach codes with requirements that exceed minimum state code requirements. In October 2019, City Council adopted the CBSC along with certain local amendments (Attachment B). The proposed ordinance provides additional local amendments to Title 24 Part 11, the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen).


Requiring increased levels of EV charging requirements for new construction is necessary to achieve the City’s recently adopted Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) goal to achieve an 80% reduction (below 1990 levels) in community carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050 or sooner. The CAAP aims to convert 50% of vehicles to electric or zero emission by 2030 in order to reach this goal, and these vehicles will need a place to charge. Buildings constructed today are anticipated to still be standing in 2030, and incorporating the EV charging capacity and electrical infrastructure into the construction of new buildings is significantly less expensive than retrofitting in the future, as described below.


The following information on upfront costs to add EV readiness electrical infrastructure is provided by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Technical and Cost Analysis: 2019 Code Cycle report on EV Charging Infrastructure: Multifamily Building Standards (April 13, 2018).


Upfront costs for raceway and panel capacity in new construction average about $280 per space for parking garages and up to $760 per space for surface lots.  An additional $2,175 to $3,450 per space may be added for smaller buildings with 9 units or less when single phase power is selected, and a dedicated transformer is installed to serve the EV charging load.  When transformer costs are added to raceway and panel capacity costs, the total additional cost of EV charging infrastructure represents between 0.1 to 0.5 percent of the average cost of a new multifamily housing unit. (California Air Resources Board, pg. 7)


A 2016 cost effectiveness study conducted by Energy Solutions for the City of Oakland estimated that installing a complete circuit with a rating of 40-Amp 208/240-Volt during new construction rather than as a retrofit could save $500 to $5,000 per EV charging space depending on the building type and completeness of the electrical circuit installed (Plug-In Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Cost Effectiveness Report, 2016).


A 2019 EV infrastructure cost analysis estimates the incremental costs to install EV infrastructure at three building types (60-unit multifamily buildings, 150-unit multifamily buildings, and office buildings with 60 parking spaces). These estimates are based on a requirement for 75% of the parking spaces to be level 2 (240-volt) EV Ready spaces, and the remaining 25% to be level 1 (110-volt) EV Ready spaces and assume one parking space per unit in multifamily buildings. The model used to calculate these costs compares customer-side electrical infrastructure costs, such as wiring, switch gear, conduit, trenching, and a secondary transformer. The building models compare the new construction requirements with the retrofit requirements, showing retrofit costs at three to four times the cost of adding the infrastructure during new construction. (Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Cost Analysis for Peninsula Clean Energy & Silicon Valley Clean Energy by Energy Solutions, November 2019).


Table 1. Incremental Costs to Install EV Infrastructure

Building Type

New Construction


60-unit MUD



150-unit MUD



60-space Office





The four common categories in preparing new buildings for EV charging are EV Charger installed, EV Ready, EV Capable, and Raceway/Conduit Equipped.  Table 2 below identifies the different components required for each category.


Table 2. EV Readiness Categories

Required Components:

EV Charger Installed

EV Ready

EV Capable* (CALGreen)

Raceway /Conduit Equipped

EV Charger















Panel Capacity










Raceway or Conduit





*EV Capable is used in the state code and other jurisdictions but is not included in the proposed amendments for Santa Monica.


The State of California has a goal of reaching 5 million EVs on the road by 2030. As shown in Table 3, several cities in California and elsewhere have adopted reach goals to help meet EV adoption goals.


Table 3. Adopted EV Readiness Reach Codes in Other California Cities




State Code

10% EV Capable

4%-10% (avg 6%) EV Capable

Santa Monica (Proposed)

10% EV Charger Installed

Office: 10% EV Charger Installed; 10% EV Ready; 30% Raceway/Conduit Equipped


Other: 10% EV Charger installed; 30% Raceway/Conduit Equipped

10% EV Ready

80% Raceway/Conduit Equipped

1 DCFC* (min. 50 kW) may replace 5 Level 2 EVSE spaces 


20% EV Ready

10% EV Charger Installed

80% Raceway/Conduit Equipped

40% Raceway/Conduit Equipped

1 DCFC (min. 80 kW) may replace 10 Level 2 EV Charger Installed spaces  

Los Angeles

10% EV Charger Installed

EV Charger Installed

20% EV Ready

20% EV Ready

West Hollywood  


2-10 spaces: 2 EV Ready

2-10 spaces: 2 EV Ready

11-20 spaces: 2 EV Ready, 1-2 EV Capable 

11-15 spaces: 2 EV Ready, 1-2 EV Capable 

>20 spaces: 10% EV Ready, 90% Raceway/Conduit Equipped; panel capacity to supply 20% of spaces 

>20 spaces: 10% EV Ready, 10% EV Capable  

LA County

10% EV Charger Installed


25% EV Capable


2-10 spaces: 2 EV Ready 

2-10 spaces: 2 EV Ready 

11-20 spaces: 2 EV Ready; 1-2 EV Capable 

11-20 spaces: 2 EV Ready; 1-2 EV Capable 

>20 spaces: 10% EV Ready; 90% EV Capable; panel capacity to supply 20% of parking spaces (may be dispersed up to 100%)

>20 spaces: 10% EV Ready; 10% EV Capable 

San Francisco  

10% EV Ready

10% EV Ready

90% EV Capable

20% EV Capable

San Jose  

10% EV Charger Installed  

10% EV Charger Installed

20% EV Ready

50% EV Capable (min 8 amps at 208/240V per EV Capable space)

70% EV Capable (min 8 amps at 208/240V per EV Capable space)

*DCFC refers to Direct Current Fast Charging stations, which operate at 480-volts compared to 220-volts for standard Level 2 chargers.


Past Council Actions

11/14/17 (Attachment A)

Adopted the Electric Vehicle Action Plan

10/15/19 (Attachment B)

Adopted the 2019 California Building Standards Code

1/14/20 (Attachment C)

Adopted Overstay Charge and Provided Direction to Expand Public Smart Charging Network


On October 25, 2016, City Council adopted local amendments to the California Building Standards Code (CBSC), which included requirements for a minimum of 5% of total parking spaces to be EV ready in both multifamily residential and nonresidential new construction. These requirements have since been superseded by the 2019 state code update. 


The 2019 CBSC, including Title 24, Part 11 which governs EV charging, was published July 1, 2019, and became effective statewide on January 1, 2020. The 2019 update increased EV charging requirements for multifamily residential new construction. New multifamily buildings with parking are required to provide EV charging spaces capable of supporting future EV supply equipment (EV capable) at 10% of the parking spaces, up from 3% in the previous code cycle. There were no changes to the EV charging requirements for new hotels, motels, and nonresidential projects, which are required to provide EV capable spaces at between 4% and 10% of parking spaces depending on the total number of parking spaces (Table 4).


Table 4. Existing CALGreen Mandatory Non-Residential Requirements (CALGreen Table


Total Number of Parking Spaces

Number of Required EV Spaces















201 and over

6% of total


Despite increased multifamily requirements, CARB estimates a gap of between 66,000 and 79,500 Level 2 EV charging stations by 2025, based on a model projection (EVI-Pro) for the number of charging stations needed in 2025 and efforts to meet the need for Level 2 and DCFC investments to serve multifamily housing. Reaching beyond the 2019 requirements through a local amendment would help close this projected gap in EV charging infrastructure in Santa Monica for multifamily buildings, in addition to hotel/motel and nonresidential buildings.


Cities and counties are permitted to make amendments to the CBSC in accordance with the following requirements:

·         Must be based on local climatic, geological and topographical conditions;

·         Must be cost-effective;

·         Cannot be less restrictive than State requirements.


Stakeholder Feedback

City staff hosted three local stakeholder workshops in 2019 to explore reach code concepts and present code updates on both EV readiness and building electrification.


In October 2019, staff presented the recommendations to the Building and Fire Life Safety (BFLS) Commission, which included a lower percentage of EV spaces for multi-family buildings. The Commission was supportive of the recommendations; however, they suggested increasing the multi-family requirement to 100% to allow vehicles in all parking spaces to access EV charging.


In January 2020, staff hosted a fourth workshop in partnership with the LA Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, which included the suggested increase for multi-family buildings from the BFLS Commission. The workshops included architects, energy modelers, designers, builders, developers, and other local stakeholders.


Staff also reviewed options with the Electric Vehicle Subcommittee and the Task Force on the Environment at multiple meetings in 2019. At the December 2019 meeting, the Task Force moved to approve staff’s recommendations.


Feedback was very supportive of the proposed amendments. Early discussions included concern about the cost to add significant levels of panel capacity. Revised recommendations mitigate those concerns by shifting a percentage of the requirement from EV Ready to Raceway/Conduit Equipped Spaces, which do not require added panel capacity.


Staff returned to the BFLS Commission on January 22, 2020 with the updated recommendation and the Commission moved to approve the proposed changes.


Proposed Amendments

Table 5: Proposed EV Readiness Amendments for Santa Monica



Santa Monica (Proposed)

Building Type

EV Capable

EV Charger Installed

EV Ready

Raceway/Conduit Equipped

Single-family, Duplex, Townhouse

1 per unit


1 per unit








6% avg





6% avg




All Other Nonresidential  

6% avg




Note: A DC Fast Charging Station with a minimum output of 50 kW may replace 5 required Level 2 EVCS spaces at hotel/motel, office, and all other non-residential parking facilities.


The multifamily requirement is the highest, providing charging access at 100% of the parking spaces with the use of an energy management system. Office buildings have a higher proposed requirement than other commercial building types due to the longer dwell times in office parking facilities that make this use more conducive to EV charging.


Allowing nonresidential buildings to replace up to five required level 2 EV Charger Installed spaces with a DC fast charging space provides flexibility to offer rapid charging options. This may be preferred for retail/commercial parking areas with shorter dwell times.


The proposed ordinance (Attachment D) amends the 2019 California Green Building Standards Code to implement the reach code described above.  The proposed resolution (Attachment E) sets out findings regarding local climatic, geological, and environmental conditions that are required to support the adoption of the local code amendments. If this reach code is adopted, staff would conduct outreach and prepare guidance documents to communicate the changes to staff, residential and non-residential developers, contractors, and other stakeholders. In addition, staff would proceed with updating the local Zoning Code to incorporate the building code amendments. Finally, following second reading and adoption of the ordinance, staff would file the adopted resolution and ordinance with the California Building Standards Commission; the reach code would be effective no earlier than 30 days after this filing. 


Financial Impacts and Budget Actions

There is no immediate financial impact to the City budget or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action. Staff will return to the Council if specific budget actions are required in the future.


As set forth above, property owners will experience new costs in installing EV infrastructure.  These new construction costs, however, not only are directly correlated with the benefits set forth above, but also are significantly lower than the cost of installing retrofits in future years when EV charging demand and EV infrastructure requirements are expected to increase. 

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