Palo Alto gas ban may keep Jose Andres from opening new restaurant

Starting this year, the city of Palo Alto has banned construction of gas lines to new buildings. And while the rule has the support of some environmentalists, it's causing problems at the Stanford Shopping Center. 

Lawyers for the mall say it may keep one of the world's most famous chefs from coming to town.

Jose Andres, is supposed to move in. But no gas may mean no Andres.

"Well this is becoming a public relations disaster for the city of Palo Alto because they allowed the restaurant and the construction of this building to go on including putting in a gas line, and now they're saying you can't use the gas," says legal analyst Steven Clark.

Lawyers for the mall are threatening to sue saying all the plans and permits up to this point allowed the gas line. And legal experts say a recent Ninth Circuit decision may call parts of the rule into question.

"There are federal questions that are still being resolved in the courts, so I don't think the city council wants to pick this fight," says Clark.

In a letter, lawyers said the code should not apply here. And they explained Andres needs appliances for which there is no electric equivalent.
Local chefs say it's a challenge.

"The open flame and the ability to regulate the flame to what the dish requires to get it to where it is you're taking it is a necessity," says Alicia Petrakis, chef at Par 3 at Poplar Creek in San Mateo.

They say it would be a shame to lose Jose Andres, known for his humanitarian efforts with World Central Kitchen.
But they understand why gas may be a dealbreaker.

"It would be a no-go for me for sure," says Petrakis.

The Palo Alto City Council discussed the matter May 8th during a closed session. But officials say no reportable action has been taken so far.

UPDATE: City of Palo Alto is making an exception in this case since they say parts of the Stanford Shopping Center were built or under construction when the city's all-electric rule went into effect. 

The city issued a statement on Tuesday that read in part, "Due to the years-long planning effort which started in 2019, three years before the City adopted the all-electric requirement, the City and the Mall have agreed that this one project should be able to proceed with gas service consistent with the long-established project plans." 


Berkeley's natural gas ban overturned by federal appeals court

A federal appeals court on Monday overturned Berkeley’s first-in-the-nation ban on natural gas lines in new buildings.