S.F. Commits to Emission-Free Transportation by 2040

New legislation seeks to make owning and operating an electric vehicle more feasible for city residents.

Is it possible for all transit in the city of San Francisco to be 100 percent emission-free by 2040? That’s the goal put forth by Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Aaron Peskin Tuesday as part of an ambitious plan to rethink how vehicles run on city streets. A detailed Electric Vehicle Roadmap was released Tuesday to outline the city’s goals, examining everything from the affordability of private electric cars to the accessibility of charging stations. 

Currently, greenhouse gases produced by vehicles account for 47 percent of the city’s overall emissions. Privately-owned cars and trucks are responsible for 71 percent of that — and as a result, much of the mayor’s plan to electrify the city focuses on making driving and charging electric vehicles more feasible for residents. This legislation proposes that by 2023, all large commercial parking lots and garages (anything with more than 100 parking spaces) would be required to build EV charging stations for 10 percent of the spaces. More than 300 lots across the city would be affected. 

In addition, the city hopes to have up to 340 new charging stations installed in municipal parking lots — such as those managed by the Port or Airport.

“We know that one of the biggest barriers for people considering driving an electric vehicle is access to charging, so we want to make sure our city has the charging infrastructure that’s needed,” Breed says. “Whether you’re parked at the grocery store to run errands or getting ready to leave the city for a road trip, you should be able to find a spot to charge — and get to your destination without having to use fossil fuels.”

Peskin is thinking bigger, looping corporate responsibility into the mission. 

“By including a lower rate in our proposed TNC Traffic Congestion Tax for electric vehicles, by transitioning our public Muni fleet to electric and by requiring more charging station opportunities, we’re giving San Franciscans options and incentives to go green.

“Of course we’d like to see walking, biking, and public transit prioritized,” he adds, “but if San Franciscans are going to drive, we hope they go electric.”

While sea levels rise, wildfires proliferate and temperatures skyrocket it’s easy to feel like progress in battling climate change is fruitless. But San Francisco has been making significant strides; since 1990 greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 36 percent citywide. And transit is just one part of that; large privately owned buildings are under pressure to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. 

And this commitment to building the infrastructure to support electric vehicles is a key part of that.

“While we continue to get people out of their cars and onto transit, bikes, and our sidewalks, we
must transition any remaining vehicles on San Francisco’s roadways off of fossil fuels and onto
renewable energy,” said Debbie Raphael, director of the Department of the Environment. “A
renewable energy supply is more than just a checkbox in San Francisco’s climate action strategy,
it catalyzes even greater emission reductions.”

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