City Commission Takes Aim at Leaf Blowers and Lawn Mowers

Published : Monday, March 11, 2019 | 4:41 AM

Pasadena’s Environmental Advisory Commission is expected to ask the City Council for launch a formal review of the City’s existing regulations on the use of lawn and garden equipment, including lawn mowers and leaf blowers

At issue? The need to reduce, if not eliminate, noise and air pollution.

On Tuesday, March 12, the Commission is scheduled to deliberate on a memorandum they propose to submit to the City’s Councilmembers and to Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek asking them to “initiate a formal process to evaluate the full range of issues, and consider policy actions, related to lawn and garden equipment, including a focus on, but not limited to, leaf blowers.”

The memorandum also includes a timeline that shows what steps the City has taken over the years to address the issues related to the use of lawn and garden equipment, from the time a leaf blower ordinance was adopted in 1987, to how the ordinance evolved after the issues on climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions came into play, up to the time when the City Council adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to serve as a “roadmap to reduce Pasadena’s carbon footprint.”

It also includes community input and the results of community dialogue that generally emphasizes how gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers have been regulated in most California jurisdictions, including Pasadena, because of complaints that they cause too much noise, and contribute not only to air pollution but, more significantly, to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The memorandum mentioned that a two-stroke-engine leaf blower could emit the same amount of hydrocarbons in a half-hour of yard work as a Ford F-150 pickup does during a 3,887-mile drive.

A California Air Quality Management District study in 2000 showed that a two-stroke-engine leaf blower generates in one hour of use as much carbon pollution as a sedan driven for 7,000 miles. The same study also found that there were over 600,000 two-stroke leaf blowers in use in California; state-wide, these leaf blowers contributed between 2 percent and 9 percent of all GHG emissions.

As there exists no nationwide regulation regarding leaf blowers, the Commission indicated the City Council and concerned City departments should review existing policies, both in Pasadena and in other cities, with the intention of developing applicable amendments or additional provisions, to make lawn and garden equipment used by both individual homeowners and home improvement contractors, compliant with anti-noise pollution and GHG emission standards.

In California, about 70 towns and cities currently have some level of controls up to a full ban on gas leaf blowers – including Los Angeles, South Pasadena, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood.

The Commission said they have not researched the effectiveness of these restrictions, according to the memo.
The Commission also said the City of Pasadena owns or leases 17 gas-powered leaf blowers and 12 electric leaf blowers. It added that in 2018, the City received a total of 103 noise complaints, of which 79 – or about 77 percent – were related to leaf blowers.
The Environmental Advisory Commission’s regular meeting on Tuesday begins at 6 p.m. at the Permit Center Hearing Room at 175 North Garfield Avenue.

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