Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
AB 970: Planning and zoning: electric vehicle charging stations: permit application: approval


In the second installment of the “Guide to Changes in State Law” CALBO’s legislative team provides some guidance on one of the hot topics in California politics: electric vehicles.  Every year, it seems like there are anywhere from 5-10 bills that the legislative team tracks and advocates on behalf of CALBO members about this issue.  In 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) took the unprecedented step of banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles for new cars by 2035 to help address the 40% of carbon emissions that comes from the transportation sector every year in California.  To help further these goals, the California Legislature introduced 4 bills to provide more opportunities for the development of electric vehicle charging stations in different aspects of the built industry.  CALBO has continued to be involved in the regulatory process for the expansion of electric vehicles in a safe, cost-efficient, and feasible manner.  Our membership firmly believes that these efforts through the regulatory process is the best approach to address this issue. With that said, CALBO members understand that electric vehicle charging infrastructure is necessary for the state to achieve its laudable goals relative to climate change so long as projects are done safely.

Assembly Bill 970 (AB 970) was signed by Governor Newsom in 2021. This bill focuses on permitting timelines for electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS).  AB 970 establishes new timelines for building departments to comply with for the permit review of electric vehicle charging infrastructure projects depending on the size of the development project. The bill develops strict timelines for both the review of a completed permit application and its approval. For larger jurisdictions, this bill officially became law in 2022, while smaller jurisdictions will have to comply with the new law beginning in 2023. Below are more specifics on the bill for your reference.

As CALBO members know, electric vehicle charging infrastructure has complex and important safety regulations to protect the public from harm.  AB 970 specifies a timeline for permit review based on the project size of new EVCS. For a project that has anywhere from 1 to 25 charging stations, local building departments will have 5 business days to review an application for the project and determine if it is completed. If nothing is done within the 5-business day timeline the application will be deemed complete (or automatically ruled as completed) unless the building official has made a finding that the EVCS would have a specific adverse impact on public health and safety.  After an application is completed, a local building department will have 20 business days to approve or deny an EVCS application. If within 20 business days the permit is not approved it will be automatically approved, and the project can continue.  For a project of 26 EVCS or more the timelines will be 10 business days to review the completion of an application and 40 business days after completion to approve or deny a permit. This bill has become law for jurisdictions with a population of 200,00 or more as of January 2022 and for jurisdictions that have less than 200,000 AB 970 will become law January 1, 2023.

There are some exemptions to these timelines that are relevant to CALBO members.  These timelines can be stopped if the building official administratively approves the application, makes a finding that the EVCS would have a specific adverse impact upon public health or safety, or if an appeal has been made to the planning commission.  CALBO worked in Sacramento to provide some exemptions for our departments to continue to promote our mission of public safety in the built industry. We strongly encourage our departments to keep these timelines in mind while providing the best service and protection for public safety in your communities.

Should you have any questions or concerns on this bill, please feel free to contact CALBO’s Public Affairs Manager, Brady Guertin at bguertin@calbo.org or 916-457-1103.