The Pasadena City Council will send a potential ban on two stroke leaf blowers to a City Council committee.
The discussion could also include an outreach program and efforts to help lessen the impacts on landscape workers that could be forced to buy new equipment.
“People are concerned about noise pollution we heard from them during the safer at home order when people were working from home,” said City Manager Steve Mermell. “People are also concerned about air pollution because the two stroke engines typically burn dirty.”
Mayor Victor Gordo said the item will go to the Public Safety Committee or the Municipal Services Committee.
Previously the city recommended no action be taken on the matter but changes to technology have now made electric leaf blowers viable.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1346 which bans the sale of gas-powered landscaping equipment, including but not limited to leaf blowers, in 2024.
Mermell said he thought many gardeners would continue to use two stroke leaf blowers until they no longer worked if the city just adopted the state law.
Two-stroke engines lack an independent lubrication system so the fuel has to be mixed with oil. It takes about four ounces of oil per every gallon of gas to run the engine, but all of that oil does not combust properly resulting in the release of air pollutants escaping from the engine in large quantities.
A two-stroke engine in a regular car would burn a gallon of oil every 1,000 miles according to science.com.
Pasadena must join other California cities in taking action against two-stroke leaf blowers, according to a report to the City Council by an ad hoc committee of the city’s Environmental Advisory Commission.
Vice Mayor Andy Wilson said it was important to consider the ban not just for the noise but for the impact on the carbon footprint.
“I suspect like most electrical equipment the cost to the units have come down,” Wilson said.
Councilman John Kennedy called for a program that would see people turn in their gas powered leaf blower in exchange for some type of assistance that would help them purchase climate friendly blowers.
Earlier this year, the city of South Pasadena voted to prohibit gas-powered leaf blowers effective Oct. 1, 2022. The citywide prohibition also bans that city’s use of leaf blowers and places the onus on the property owner who authorized the work.
Several beach cities have also enacted bans, Violations include penalties of up to $500, and adds new maximum sound standards for leaf blowers (65 decibels measured from 50 feet away).
According to the Two-Stroke Engine Ad Hoc Committee of the Pasadena Environmental Advisory Commission approximately 20% of California counties have enacted at least a partial ban on two-stroke engines.
Unfortunately, until now, Pasadena has acted neither as a leader nor a fast follower. But we can catch up,” the commission said.
The City Council was scheduled to take up the matter earlier this month, but it was tabled due to a heavy agenda.
Of the 359 total complaints in the last six years, the majority (275, or 77%) concerned the use of a leaf blower outside the allowed hours. Local residents also complained gardeners exceeding the allowed length of use, noise level, and blowing debris over a property line, received 52 (14%), 23 (6%), and 9 (3%) complaints, respectively.