Assembly Bill 1236 Implications for Local Jurisdictions in California

Download PDF Version

New Rules for Local Electric Vehicle Charging Station Permitting

On Sept. 30, 2017, new rules for permitting electric vehicle charging stations go into effect for cities and counties across California per AB 1236.   Many municipalities and counties will need to change their existing permitting processes to comply with the rules.  Here is a bit of background to help municipal leaders understand the changes needed.

Use Permits Will Be Rare

The new rules (Cal. Gov. Code § 65850.7) will require building officials to streamline the permitting process for electric vehicle charging stations.  The new standards mean building officials may now only require a use permit if the installation “could have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety.”  The rules are set such that finding a health or safety issue requires “a significant, quantifiable, direct, and unavoidable impact, based on objective, identified, and written public health or safety standards, policies, or conditions as they existed on the date the application was deemed complete.”  This is a high bar and in most cases permits will need to be expedited.

A Little History

Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order in 2012 with the goal of having one million zero emission vehicles in California by 2020 and 1.5 million by 2025.  In order to support these ambitious objectives, the California legislature passed AB 1236 in 2015 and the Governor signed it.  As of Sept. 30, 2016, it applied only to  cities with populations over 200,000 people. This September 30, 2017, it goes into effect for all municipalities and counties in California.

Which Cities Have to Make Changes Now?

As we approach September, cities and counties with fewer than 200,000 residents will want to take similar action to make sure they are in compliance with the new State Law.

Sample ordinances:

Can Local Governments Claim Any Exemptions?      

The law suggests that people “may refer to” the Governor’s office publication 2012 Zero-Emission Vehicles in California: Community Readiness Guidebook when it comes to authoring ordinances.  But it allows modification of the checklists laid out in the Guidebook only “due to unique climatic, geological, seismological, or topographical conditions.”  If you are going to vary from the standard in the publications, it seems variation is only allowed if you have a special case with regard to one of these elements – a narrow exception.

What Cities Must Post Online

  1. Cities will have to post their expedited review process online in checklist form.

  2. Permit applications and documentation must be accepted online, including an electronic rather than a wet signature. This last rule is a soft one.  The code makes it clear that local governments that cannot accept electronic signatures need only state why they cannot and they can skip this element in the ordinance.

Volta Is Here to Help

As the builder of the largest free EV charging network in the US, Volta is uniquely positioned to help cities navigate the transition to clean transportation. If there is any additional information we can provide about AB1236, feel free to send us an email or give us a call.

Volta Charging
155 De Haro St. 
San Francisco, CA

Public Partnerships Phone: 415.290.9400  |  

ABOUT VOLTA | Volta is committed to driving positive change in transportation by growing its nationwide network of free electric vehicle charging stations. Volta partners with like-minded sponsors to support free charging for all EV drivers. Volta’s innovative infrastructure is leading the way for the future needs of mobility. Volta provides free, convenient electric vehicle charging at public and private sites across the US including shopping malls, grocery stores, local retailers, and sports complexes. In addition to environmental benefits, Volta stations also help local business by encouraging new customers to visit and stay longer at local establishments. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in San Francisco, Volta leverages the power of brand sponsorships to provide a valuable community amenity and drive electric vehicle adoption in markets across the U.S.