Mayor Urges City Commission to Look into Problems Caused by Gasoline-Powered Gardening Equipment

Published : Tuesday, May 28, 2019 | 5:08 AM

In a letter to Pasadena Environmental Advisory Commissioners, Mayor Terry Tornek urged the Commission to thoroughly examine the problems associated with gasoline-powered gardening equipment and make specific regulatory recommendations to the City Council.

Tornek specifically mentioned “excessive noise” and pollution caused by machines like leaf blowers.

Tornek wrote the Environmental Advisory Commission, known as the EAC, last month and indicated it was time to address the complaints about gasoline-powered equipment and consult with the community – including homeowners, landscapers, and industry experts, among others – to come up with ways to confront the problems.

“I urge the EAC to press ahead as time permits to thoroughly examine this controversial issue and make specific recommendations to the City Council,” Tornek said in the letter. “There can be no doubt that many residents are disturbed by the noise, emissions and particulates generated by the use of gasoline-powered equipment.”

He stressed that stringent regulations on the use of leaf blowers have in the past been opposed by landscapers and their clients who “are concerned about economic impacts and the efficacy of alternative technologies.”

Tornek indicated the EAC should look at how other cities in the state have responded to complaints and to submit a recommendation based on a wide range of inputs from the stakeholders.

“Once the Commission has completed the analysis, I am sure that the City Council would welcome your recommendations on how to proceed,” Tornek wrote.

In March, the EAC wrote Tornek and the City Council to recommend that the City initiate a formal process to evaluate the issues about the use of leaf blowers and other lawn and garden equipment.

The Commission listed a timeline of events which showed the City adopted a leaf blower regulation ordinance as early as 1987, when the wide use of the gasoline-powered machines were resulting in “the creation of dust, noxious hydrocarbons and intrusive noise” affecting the “quiet character” of Pasadena’s residential neighborhoods.

In the succeeding years, the ordinance has been amended to consider low-noise and low-emission alternatives, and later on in consideration of negative public feedback about the machines appearing in both formal complaints to the City as well as on social media.

The Commission’s letter also mentioned data from the Public Works department, showing that the number of complaints about noisy and polluting leaf blowers have grown significantly over the years.

Public Works received eight complaints about the machines in 2016, 23 in 2017, and 80 in 2018, the data showed.

Mayor Tornek’s response and further data about the use of leaf blowers are expected to be discussed further Tuesday, during a special meeting of the EAC at the Permit Center Hearing Room, at 175 N. Garfield Avenue. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

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