Plug-in Readiness Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions and answers pertaining to Electric Vehicle Charging Station Permitting (EVCS) Laws, AB 1236 and AB 970. If your questions are not listed here, please contact us.
AB 1236 and AB 970: Ordinance and Checklist
What are the requirements of California’s electric vehicle charging station (EVCS) permit streamlining laws?
All cities and counties in California are required by law (AB 1236 (2015, Chiu) and AB 970 (2021, McCarty)) to streamline permitting processes for electric vehicle charging stations by limiting project review to health and safety requirements in an expedited timeframe.
Check out the Electric Vehicle Charging Station Permit Streamlining Fact Sheet for more details on the requirements, including adopting a streamlining ordinance and checklist.
My jurisdiction already processes charging station permits, why do I need an ordinance and checklist?
Per AB 1236 and AB 970, all jurisdictions are required to adopt an expedited, streamlined process for charging station permits. The ordinance and checklist are required by AB 1236, and are two of the seven key criteria jurisdictions must meet to be considered streamlined and in compliance with the law. The documents should be written in a way that increases transparency and understanding on both sides of the counter.
What are the seven criteria for streamlining?
GO-Biz developed the Permitting Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Scorecard, based on AB 1236 and AB 970, to help California jurisdictions streamline EVCS permitting. The criteria to be considered streamlined “EVCS Permit Ready” are below.
- Streamlining Ordinance for Expedited EVCS Permit Process
- Permitting Checklists Online for L2 & DCFC
- Administrative Approval of EVCS
- Approval Limited to Health & Safety Review
- Electronic Signatures Accepted
- EVCS Not Subject to Association Approval
- One Complete Deficiency Notice if Application is Incomplete
Are there templates for the required streamlining ordinance?
How many checklists are required?
Jurisdictions have flexibility to determine how to best develop a permitting checklist based on their permitting process. It is a best practice to combine requirements and any helpful guidance into a single checklist document.
Per AB 1236, the checklist must be accessible online if the jurisdiction has an internet website, and the jurisdiction must allow for electronic signature and electronic submittal of permit applications and associated documentation.
Are the streamlining process and checklists the same for residential and commercial uses?
Yes, the processes and checklists are the same for all uses. Cities and counties are required to have a checklist for both residential and commercial applicants. Click here for an example of a checklist that can be used bor both residential and commercial. CALBO created a template checklist that may be used by jurisdictions.
What if a jurisdiction does not have a checklist? What will application review be based on?
If the city or county has not yet created its checklist, the deficiency notice will be limited to the building official’s review of whether the project meets all health and safety requirements of local, state, and federal law as mandated by AB 1236.
If a jurisdiction does not have an online portal system for permitting, how can they meet the electronic signature and submittal requirement?
Electronic submittal can be met through a variety of options, including the utilization of one or more of the following:
If the jurisdiction determines that it is unable to authorize the acceptance of an electronic signature on all forms, applications, and other documents in lieu of a wet signature by an applicant, the jurisdiction must state the reasons for inability to accept electronic signatures in its required streamlining ordinance.
What level of charging is included in these laws?
AB 1236 and AB 970 apply to all charging station installations, including: Level 1, Level 2, and DC Fast Charging; public and private charging stations; light-, medium-, and heavy-duty electric vehicle charging stations; and stations that are installed as the accessory or primary use of a site. Access our M&HD Charging Installation Guide for more information. AB 1236 and AB 970 likewise apply to essential components and infrastructure necessary for charging station function.
Are AB 1236 and AB 970 applicable to planning permit review?
AB 1236 and AB 970 limit EVCS application review to building official consideration of health and safety standards and requirements; no planning permit should be required for EV charging station applications.
Our jurisdiction adopted an ordinance and checklist. What’s next?
Congratulations! Contact GO-Biz to update the State Streamlining Map to help create a collective learning space to support cities, counties, and applicants as we all work towards streamlined permitting processes that work well for all parties.
Do jurisdictions need to adopt a new ordinance and checklist to comply with AB 970?
No, AB 970 does not require a new ordinance or checklist if a jurisdiction has already adopted them per AB 1236. However, jurisdictions should ensure information and resources on their website reflect the timeframes required by AB 970.
AB 1236 and AB 970: Law Applicability
When do the laws go into effect?
Approved in 2015, AB 1236 has been in effect for all cities and counties since 2017.
AB 970 became operative on January 1, 2022 for every city, county, or city and county with a population of more than 200,000 residents, and shall apply beginning on January 1, 2023 for every city, county, or city and county with fewer than 200,000 residents.
What are the consequences for non-compliance with AB 1236 and AB 970?
Under AB 970’s “deemed approved” process, a jurisdiction may lose its discretion to consider and modify an EVCS project if it does not meet the statutory review timelines for permit application completeness and approval/denial.
EVCS developers consider a range of factors when determining where to invest, including the ability to get a permit. EVCS developers may avoid investing in jurisdictions that do not have a streamlined permitting process.
Additionally, funders, such as the California Energy Commission (CEC) can factor permit streamlining status into grant-making decisions.
EVCS Application Timelines and Permitting Review
What are the AB 970 timeframes for EVCS application review and approval?
For projects with 1-25 stations at a single site, applications must be reviewed for completeness within 5 business days and approved/denied within 20 business days.
For projects with 26 or more stations at a single site, applications must be reviewed for completeness within 10 business days and approved/denied within 40 business days.
Can a jurisdiction provide a second deficiency notice with previously noted corrections if the applicant did not address them? Do the required timeframes reset for every round of comments a jurisdiction provides?
To meet the requirements of AB 1236, the city or county must provide one complete set of comments detailing all application deficiencies, which the applicant should address in a streamlined and complete manner through modifications to the existing application.
The AB 970 timeframes apply to complete applications. One deficiency notice could take multiple rounds to resolve – the main problem to avoid is adding new deficiencies that weren’t previously identified in the first deficiency notice.
If the jurisdiction determines that the project poses a specific, adverse impact upon health and safety, the AHJ may remove the project from expedited review and may also require a use permit application.
Are there limitations on a jurisdiction’s discretion to seek plan changes regarding EV charging station design (e.g., units using extensive lighting) or regarding more general land use compatibility concerns?
AB 1236 limits application review to health and safety. If the jurisdiction finds, based on substantial evidence, that the EVCS design or location could have a specific adverse impact upon the public health or safety, the jurisdiction can require changes to the plan. However, aesthetic concerns may not factor into the review.
If a jurisdiction finds that the EVCS could impact public health or safety and requires the applicant to apply for a use permit, do the AB 970 timeframes apply to the processing of the use permit?
The AB 970 timeframes apply to application completeness and Building Official review of health and safety requirements. If the Building Official finds, based on substantial evidence, that the EVCS could have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety and requires the applicant to apply for a use permit, the timeframes no longer apply. The AB 970 timeframes for review and approval are for projects that meet health and safety requirements.
Do AB 1236 and AB 970 require permit streamlining for processes that involve an EV charging station’s necessary infrastructure (e.g., grading, storm water, trenching and conduit, etc.)?
Yes, AB 1236 and AB 970 likewise apply to essential components and infrastructure necessary for charging station function.
EVCS Parking Requirements and Accessibility
What if the EVCS application impacts the number of parking spaces for existing uses?
AB 970 clarifies that cities and counties shall reduce the number of required parking spaces by the amount necessary to accommodate the EVCS if the EVCS and associated equipment interferes with, reduces, eliminates, or in any way impacts the required parking spaces for existing uses.
Will minimum required parking counts be reduced due to widening or extending EV charging stalls into the drive aisle, making the stalls on the opposite side of the drive aisle too short?
How do accessibility requirements fit into this streamlining process?
Accessibility remains a critical component of the process and should be addressed prior to issuing the permit. To avoid the need for corrections, project applicants should communicate with local permitting jurisdictions to ensure the application complies with accessibility requirements. For more guidance on accessibility in the permitting process, check out the Access Compliance Reference Materials from the Division of the State Architect (DSA) and the GO-Biz Electric Vehicle Charging Station Permitting Guidebook.
Coastal Development Permit
How do AB 1236 and AB 970 streamlining requirements apply to EVCS near beaches? When is a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) necessary?
AB 1236 and AB 970 do not override the California Coastal Management Act. Local governments in the coastal zone with certified Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) are responsible for determining whether a CDP is required for proposed development within their respective jurisdictions. The Coastal Commission will work with LCPs to identify potential coastal resource concerns with respect to new or expanded EVCS and clearly define the circumstances when a CDP will and will not be required.