Hayward’s latest green proposal would affect homeowners

"RECO lawww!"

"RECO lawww!"

Hayward’s mulling a Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance, or RECO, and we had a story on it in today’s paper.

City officials really want to hear from the public on this. At the last Sustainability Committee meeting, some citizens expressed that they didn’t think the city was doing a good enough job of letting people know about it. There was talk of possibly including a notice in every water bill, but that would be fairly cost prohibitive.

 San Francisco and Berkeley passed such ordinances back in the 1980s.

Alice LaPierre, city of Berkeley building science specialist, said many residents “are on board with the idea of efficiency” and that the intent of the ordinance is to “protect residents from rising energy costs.”

“They will see a payoff immediately, and they’ll notice they have a more comfortable home,” she said.

Hayward residents at the last meeting and Realtors alike said they’re all for energy saving measures that will help the environment. But the real estate people I spoke with said it should be done in a more voluntary manner, instead of putting prohibitive requirements on homeowners or parties involved in a real estate transaction.

David Stark of the Bay East Association of Realtors also said it’s not fair to compare the housing market in Berkeley or San Francisco with Hayward.

“The demand for residential real estate in Berkeley is very different than in Hayward,” he said. “And what buyers and sellers will endure is different as well.”

One item that staff was told to nix was a requirement that the retrofits be accompanied with a replacement of toilets with low-flow models. Apparently moving water around takes a lot of energy, and older model toilets use a lot of water.

Councilman Bill Quirk didn’t like the idea. He said he replaced his home’s toilets in the ’90s and it cost $40,000.

“Those are very expensive toilets,” quipped the mayor, before Quirk explained that it cost so much because he had to replace pipes all the way to the main sewer line because there wasn’t enough draw for the low-flows.

So they wanted that requirement off the table.

“I would hate to go to war over toilets,” said Mayor Sweeney.

You can find more information about the RECO on the city’s dedicated page, including contact information for staff involved in drafting the ordinance.

Eric Kurhi