California City Grants Celebrity Chef Exemption From Gas Stove Ban After He Threatens To Sue

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Kate Hirzel Contributor
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A California city granted an exemption Tuesday for celebrity chef José Andrés and collaborator, Simon Property Group who threatened legal action if their new restaurant was unable to use a gas stove.

The restaurant, Zaytinya, plans to open in Palo Alto at the Stanford Shopping Center and wants to use natural gas. Palo Alto’s  City Council revised building codes in 2022 to require every new building to be all-electric.

The city told the mall operator, Simon Property Group (SPG), that he had not submitted a building permit application by that date, and would have to use electric stoves. SPG wrote a letter in April threatening litigation if there was not an exception. (RELATED: California Agrees To Pay Christian Doctors $300,000 After Attempting To Mandate Assisted Suicide Treatment)

“SPG is confident that the enforcement of the new Reach Code in this context is legally defective and unconstitutional, and SPG is thus prepared to take all actions necessary to enforce its legal rights to employ gas facilities within Building EE,” SPG attorney, Anna Shimko said. 

“We are hopeful that the City agrees that SPG may move forward with the construction of Building EE as planned, with natural gas connections and appliances, in order to avoid costly and prolonged litigation,” Shimko continued.

The city council backtracked the gas stove ban in a City Council Meeting. “It was done right before the first of the year before three of us were seated,” City Council Member, Vicki Veenker, said. “There may be some evolved views by the council.”

In a statement released by the city, they say this is a unique situation because the building planning began in 2019. “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,” Palo Alto’s statement says. 

The city of Palo Alto and SPG reached a settlement subjecting the building to 2022 regulations for all other aspects of the project. “In all other respects, Developer shall be subject to the 2022 California Building Codes with the city’s local amendments,” the settlement states.