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SAN JOSE, CA – MARCH 20: Construction work continues on a large residential project on Park Avenue in the Midtown area of San Jose, Calif. Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Karl Mondon /Bay Area News Group)
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San Jose could soon become the largest city in the country to ban natural gas from many residential construction projects.

On Tuesday, the City Council will consider a proposal from Mayor Sam Liccardo and four of his fellow council members to create an ordinance barring natural gas infrastructure in new single-family homes, low-rise multifamily buildings and detached granny flats beginning next year.

The proposal would not affect existing homes.

“Electrifying buildings is not only good for the planet, but good for our health and safety,” the mayor, Raul Peralez, Lan Diep, Magdalena Carrasco and Dev Davis wrote in a memo.

San Jose would join Berkeley and Menlo Park in enacting natural gas bans. And other cities across the Golden State, including San Francisco, are considering similar proposals to help California reach its ambitious energy goals.

The vote comes as President Donald Trump, who has scaled back environmental regulations aimed at limiting carbon emissions and advocated for coal, plans to swing through California for campaign fundraisers.

In a separate memo, San Jose’s environmental services director, Kerrie Romanow, and planning director, Rosalynn Hughey, urged city leaders to adopt a building code for both new residential and non-residential construction to require them to be ready for electrification.

Advocates have pointed out that building electric infrastructure from the start is more cost effective than retrofitting buildings later, and will improve air quality and safety. But some critics, including Councilman Johnny Khamis, say contractors are worried that the requirements could actually make building in an already expensive real estate market even more costly and increase utility costs.

In a letter to city leaders, PG&E — which provides electricity and gas to San Jose residents — said it supports cities in their effort to “promote all-electric new construction when cost effective.”

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