Palo Alto bans idling of vehicle engines

Construction vehicles, tech shuttle buses and even Mark Zuckerberg’s private security detail must stop their idling.

The Palo Alto City Council voted 8-0 Monday night to approve an ordinance that bans running engines more than two or three minutes after a vehicle is parked or queued. Councilman Adrian Fine was absent.

Exemptions include public safety vehicles during emergencies, public works vehicles under certain city rules and electric vehicles because they don’t emit carbon. The ordinance would not apply to cars idling in traffic.

The action came after four council members — Vice Mayor Liz Kniss and Karen Holman, Eric Filseth and Tom DuBois — submitted a colleagues’ memo seeking an ordinance that serves the city’s goal of reducing 224,600 tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by 2030. Vehicles account for roughly half of those emissions, according to a staff report.

“It supports all the ways we are trying to reduce particulates,” Kniss said, noting that Monday was a Spare the Air day with “obvious particulate matter visible” in the hills.

A number of supporters at the meeting, including high school students who are youth leaders with the Sierra Club, urged the council to be a pioneer in the anti-idling movement. The nearby cities of Los Gatos, Los Altos and Saratoga are considering similar bans. Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Ann Arbor, Michigan, have already adopted ordinances.

Read more detail on The Mercury News