Jan 24 2021

City Survey: Republican, Democrat, Various Views of Reach Code Ordinance

Piedmont’s Proposed Environmental Ordinance, known as  Reach Codes, elicited a “Survey of Voters” by the City of Piedmont.

The Piedmont City Council on January 19, 2021 heard a report on the online survey of 384 Piedmont voters opinions regarding the proposed environmental ordinance referred to as Reach Codes.  The online interviews with Piedmont voters were conducted between November 21 and December 3, 2020 by the Oakland firm FM3.  The respondents to the survey were a convenient sample of Piedmonters.  Their responses are representative of those particular 384 Piedmont voters.

Who Supports the Proposed Reach Codes?

Interestingly, the report showed the more citizens learned about the Reach Codes, the less they supported them.  The survey found that respondents who had only a little awareness or no awareness of the Reach Codes were almost twice as likely to be in “total support” of the proposed codes as those who knew “a great deal” about the proposals. The biggest supporters (82%) are renters with household incomes below $250,000. The report does not tell how many renters with that income ceiling participated in the survey.

Who Participated in the Survey?

The report does not provide the usual breakdown of numbers of participants by age or other demographic attributes represented in the resulting statistics.  Within the survey report, voters were divided according to various characteristics,  including income, gender, years residing in Piedmont, homeowner, renter, political party preferences and age.  Thus, the 384 participants were divided into six age categories, two gender categories, three political party categories, five categories of length of residing in Piedmont, and homeowner vs renter status, with statistical representations of their knowledge and views on Climate Change and the Reach Codes for each subgroup.

How many actual individuals were represented by each percentage offered aged 18 to 29 who, for example, the 77% of voters aged 18 to 29 who consider the Reach Codes as “Extremely or Very Important” The survey report does not provide the number of individuals in each group. 

Prior to acting on the ordinance, did the Council need to know whether Republicans, Democrats, or Independents supported the proposed Reach Codes ?  The answer is unknown.

  Read the Survey Report HERE.

 Council Meeting, Monday, February 1, Final Approval of New Ordinance – Staff Report  > HERE.


Below is a January 20, 2021 notice written by the Piedmont Planning Department describing the Piedmont City Council meeting of January 19, 2021. The Council was briefed on the Survey of voters and provided the revised Reach Code Ordinance to be considered for a final reading at their Monday, February 1, 2021 Council meeting.
~~~~~~ Planning Staff Notice ~~~~~~
“On January 19, 2021, the City Council received an informational update on public engagement for the proposed Reach Codes. Reach Codes are amendments to California’s Electrical Code and Building Energy Efficiency Standards designed to promote efficient building methods in Piedmont and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
The City commissioned research firm FM3 to conduct a random-sample survey to gauge public opinion about the proposed Reach Codes. Here are some key findings:
  • 66% percent of Piedmonters support the City revising its building codes to reduce natural gas usage in homes, while about 3 in 10 oppose the idea. These findings are nearly unchanged from responses to these questions in June 2020.
  • 7 in 10 respondents said reduced GHGs (70%) and preventing climate change by reducing fossil fuel consumption (69%) are an extremely or very important benefit of establishing Reach Codes.
  • 3 in 4 Piedmonters noted the most convincing reason to support adopting Reach Codes is the impact of reducing the GHGs generated by homes.
  • When presented with messages opposing the Reach Codes, 87% of Piedmonters noted that relying on electric appliances may leave homeowners vulnerable to power outages. About 8 in 10 were concerned that the proposal may be unfair to residents who have already made energy efficiency improvements (81%) and that it may be costly for some homeowners (79%).
After hearing additional feedback from the Community, the City Council will consider the second reading of the Reach Code ordinance on February 1, 2021. Reach Codes are an important tool in Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan and can significantly help reduce GHGs. On February 1, City Council will also consider an ordinance requiring home energy audits in certain circumstances.

To learn more about the reach codes and read some of the FAQ’s, please visit our webpage. To check Council meeting minutes and agendas, please visit our website. ”

Piedmont Planning Department

Communications to the Piedmont City Council may be sent to citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov.  

One Response to “City Survey: Republican, Democrat, Various Views of Reach Code Ordinance”

  1. The survey of voters revealed that 66% strongly support the Reach codes. That is based on a random sample of 384 registered voters, a sample size selected to provide 95% certainty. This is not a “convenient” sample of the opinion of a “particular 384” residents. Asking the same questions of the same number of random Piedmonters last June produced the same results – 66% strongly supported the Reach codes – which speaks to the validity of the survey method. The survey does not provide the numbers of respondents by age group but those numbers likely reflect the percentage of the groups in the pool of registered voters the sample was collected from. As younger residents are more likely not to be registered, the 18-29 age group is probably underrepresented in the sample.

    FM3 noted that support for Reach codes declined with the respondent’s knowledge of them but also noted that this trend correlated with the respondent’s denial of climate change. Visit the city website to see this discussion.

    The 18-29 cohort strongly supported the Reach codes because they have “skin in the game” – namely their own. These are the Piedmonters who are facing the dire consequences of climate change should the City not meet the 2050 GHG reduction target. City Council should acknowledge these future residents and pass the Reach Codes.

    Editors’ Note: Neither the June 17-22, 2020 survey report nor the November/December, 2020 survey report provide the sampling methodology.  However, the  January-February 2020 survey was sent to multiple City email lists and uploaded to the City website.  If any member of the sample “opts-in” through some mechanism, a probability-based survey (random) is unattainable. To develop a sample of Piedmont voters, every Piedmont voter should have an equal probability of receiving the online survey.

    The July 6, 2020 City Council report stated:
    ” Staff also commissioned consulting firm FM3 to design and carry out a representative survey …”
    A “representative” survey is not necessarily based on a random sample.

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