The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission provided input Monday on a proposed new ordinance that would require new garages to include a 240-volt outlet capable of charging an electric vehicle.

The ordinance under discussion was remanded to the P&Z Commission for consideration by the Bellevue City Council last month following initial support for the idea from City Councilman Greg Cappel. Cappel had read about a similar ordinance passed in Boise to help build sustainability infrastructure. The article showed a correlation between the new outlet requirement and increased property values.

“This could increase property values and reduce our carbon footprint,” Cappel said.

Yet City Councilmen Doug Brown and Chris Johnson both expressed reluctance last month. Brown decried the added cost for builders. “This is one cost that can wait for the future,” Brown said.

Johnson said electric cars were “not his thing” and advised not extending the requirement to apartment buildings.

The original proposal was directed at new residential garages only, but the P&Z commission expressed a desire to expand the requirement to include new commercial buildings and apartments, following direction from P&Z Chairman John Kurtz, and a recent push by city leaders to allow for a proliferation of apartment buildings and duplexes across the city.

“It’s important that we include multi-family housing, whether its duplexes or apartments,” Kurtz said.

The P&Z Commission was in general agreement Monday that the upfront cost of a new 240-volt line into a garage would be $300-$500. Installing the line after construction would cost $2,000 to $2,400.

Community Development Director Diane Shay said she is considering a requirement that would bring one 240-volt charging outlet for every three new apartment units. She said she would do further research on the topic.

Shay sent the P&Z Commission a copy of the Boise ordinance that inspired potential changes to Bellevue’s building code, asking for suggestions based on it, what to leave in and what to leave out.

P&Z Commissioner Alexis Lindberg said the Boise ordinance was “a good start” to work from.

The Bellevue ordinance, if it is approved by the City Council, would follow the city’s resolution passed last year to shoot for 100% clean electricity community-wide by 2035 and 100% clean energy--including vehicles--by 2045. Blaine County, Hailey and Ketchum have passed similar resolution goals to reduce greenhouse emissions and fight climate change.

Shay said Bellevue’s actions could set a precedent for other cities in the Wood River Valley.

“Ketchum has been very interested in what we are rolling out,” Shay said.

According to evvolumes.com, an electric vehicle sales analysis company, 2.65 million electric vehicles were sold worldwide during the first half of 2021, an increase of 168% during the same period in 2020.

“For 2021, all regions and most countries witnessed strong increases in EV sales, with growth rates three-to-eight times higher than for total light vehicle markets,” the website states.

“It will be interesting to see how many people transition to electric vehicles,” Kurtz said. 

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