Living Spaces on Atherton Drive at Union Road is the “fueling” station of the future.
Fourteen percent of its 456 parking spaces are prewired for charging stations.
It is a state requirement for new construction in California.
And it explains why the Chevron gas station under construction just down Atherton Drive at its southwest intersection with Union Road was never designed to be a charging station.
It is because it is completely insane to do so in a high growth area where new commercial development is subject to the `14 percent rule for including prewired parking stalls.
Slow charging — as opposed to rapid charging — means longer battery life with current technology. And whether it is slow or fast charging, it makes more sense to charge one’s electric vehicle when they will be in store for a period of time such as looking for furniture of shopping for groceries.
Most people aren’t exactly enamored with waiting around for 30 minutes ort so to get a decent charge on their EV.
Plus, the proliferation of charging stations the prewired parking stalls will eventually allow will change the way people power or “fuel” their vehicles. They will likely do it more frequently.
It goes without saying some firm will have to invest in the actual charging stations and install them. Also, just because Living Spaces has roughly 60 spaces that can have chargers installed doesn’t mean all — or even any — of them will become reality.
It all depends upon technology, the future trends, marketplace, and how effective home charging will eventually be in future generations of batteries.
The 900-pound gorilla, of course, is the pending state mandate that will prohibit the sale of new vehicles that aren’t zero emissions in California starting in 2035.
It is not an all-out ban. And it certainly isn’t a requirement that all new vehicles be electric.
There is the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle technology out there.
There are 2.5 million EVs on the road in the United States today versus roughly 16,000 hydrogen powered vehicles with virtually all of those in California.
They take roughly the same time to fuel as a gas vehicle. Plus, they also typically have a 300 to 400 mile range on fill-ups. The biggest problem to driving them is the dearth of fueling stations.
All of this queues up the question: Is the time coming for Manteca to take a cue from Napa Valley cities and ban the construction of new as stations?
Eight cities in Napa and Sonoma counties have banned the construction of new gas stations or the addition of more gas pumps.
Next door in Marin County, Novato imposed a similar demand last week.
By year’s end in Manteca the new 7-Eleven — with gas pumps — will likely open on the northeast corner of Main Street and Louise Avenue. The Chevron station on Atherton Drive that is under construction is moving toward a spring opening.
There are six more gas stations proposed that have either gotten final blessing from the City of Manteca are making their way through the municipal approval process.
There is a small but growing number of people in Manteca that believe the cities in the Napa Valley are getting it right.
City Council members, when the issue came up during a discussion about a related agenda items earlier this year, made it clear they had no such stomach for such a municipal ban in Manteca.
The reasons mentioned ran the gamut from the market is best situated to decide such things and they can’t restrict types of business that can open as long as they are allowed within a specific zoning to the decision is above their pay grade.
While cities can’t dictate what type of legal businesses can open within their jurisdiction, they certainly can impose limitations as witnessed through the adoption of the legal marijuana dispensary ordinance.
As for the decision being above their pay grade, the cities banning new gas stations in the Napa Valley are general law cities just like Manteca.
The argument for implementing a ban on new gas stations in Manteca is two-pronged:
*The pending mandate to end fossil-fuel powered new vehicle sales in 2035.
*The issue of removing underground gas tanks when stations go out of business.
Neither are straight forward.
Based on data from the California New Car Dealers Association, there were 128,855 new EV sales within the state during the first six months of this year. That accounted for 15.1 percent of all sales.
It is clear between the existing 36.2 million vehicles registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles including 560,000 existing EVs, there will still be a large number of gas-powered vehicles on the road long after Jan. 1, 2035. Keep in mind existing fossil-fueled vehicles can still be sold after that date.
Also, almost all air quality mandates in California have never been implemented on the original adopted target date. Usually regulatory boards, acutely aware of market, technology, and production conditions have pushed back absolute implementation dates on everything from yard care equipment to banning the burning of orchard trimmings.
Issues with environmental damages to soil and water from leaking underground tanks at gas stations have been reduced immensely over the years along with the help of a significantly stepped up inspection and monitor program.
The real issue — as it has always been — is whether it make economic sense to repurpose gas stations to other uses when it requires removing tanks and doing any protentional rehab work.
The answer with most of the stations being built now in Manteca — especially at high traffic intersection locations — is likely yes. That is even more so if they are able to migrate at one point toward hydrogen fuel sales while weaning off fossil fuel sales.
From that aspect, one can argue that Manteca shouldn’t ban new gas stations.
But you can also argue there should be a partial ban — or a cap placed on the number of stations per 10,000 households much like the city has done with legal marijuana dispensaries.
It would seem to make sense not to overbuild the supply of fueling stations to the point that those not at high profile locations suitable for conversion to other commercial users will no longer be economically viable.
We’re talking about gas stations away from the freeways and major intersections such as many in central Manteca.
Generally, it is not the city’s business to assure the success of business or to even regulate how many concerns in a particular category such as convenience stores Manteca may end up with.’
But it is the city’s problem if it allows a situation to be created that leads to serious blight issue down the road that won’t pencil out for the market to address.
Such blight deteriorates the quality of life in a community. It can easily create a public health and safety concern that the city will be left to address.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com