The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors adopted a zero-emission vehicle policy Tuesday, requiring internal combustion engine vehicles in the county’s vehicle fleet to be replaced with battery electric vehicles once reaching end of life.

The purpose of this new policy is to “accelerate the rate of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in support of the County of Santa Barbara’s Climate Action Plan, and improve Santa Barbara County air quality,” General Services’ staff report said.

About 150 to 200 combustion-engine vehicles in the county’s fleet are expected to reach “end of life” over the next two to five years, according to the department.

General Services assistant director Skip Grey said the county has purchased electric vehicles for the fleet in the past, but had no formal written policy. The zero-emission vehicle policy applies to non-public safety sedans, SUVs, light duty pickup trucks and vans.

The policy applies to all county departments, but exemptions include emergency response vehicles; if no viable option is currently available to purchase a zero-emission vehicle; if a zero-emission vehicle would not meet functional operational requirements — such as for towing capacity; if the maximum required daily mileage exceeds the capacity of a zero-emission vehicle; or if there is no access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure available or planned to be complete within 12 months.

As California’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure gets better, the county could remove the range-related exemptions, Grey said.

The county currently has 133 EV chargers across 13 locations and would add more chargers to support the newly-purchased vehicles.

By 2026, 168 additional EV chargers are planned to be installed at the 13 existing locations, as well as at seven new locations. This would bring the total number of EV chargers in the county to 301.

General Services staff said they sell electric vehicles when they’re around nine years old, since that’s before the 10-year point when the battery warranty expires. The county recently sold a 2013 Nissan Leaf for 20% of its original value, Grey said.

To fund all these new zero-emission vehicles and EV charging infrastructure, staff in the Vehicle Operations Division are seeking out rebates and grants from the Air Pollution Control DistrictCalifornia Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project rebates, Central Coast Community Energy, the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, and other sources.

The Vehicle Operations Division plans to provide updates on all types of zero-emission vehicles, including battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles, which are powered by compressed hydrogen.

More information on the county’s zero-emission vehicle policy can be found in its staff report here and presentation below.

Serena Guentz, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at