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.
The City Council will consider an ordinance banning gasoline-powered two-stroke leaf blowers at its meeting Monday.
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.
The city could vote to pass an ordinance banning gas-powered blowers on Monday or send the matter to the Public Safety Committee for further consideration.
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.
Violations include penalties of up to $500, and adds new maximum sound standards for leaf blowers (65 decibels measured from 50 feet away).
“The time to act is now,” wrote the Two-Stroke Engine Ad Hoc Committee of Pasadena Environmental Advisory Commission. “Notably, approximately 20% of California counties are already enacting at least a partial ban on two-stroke engines. Therefore, others have already acted to address this problem, leaving Pasadena in the metaphorical and literal dust. Unfortunately, until now, Pasadena has acted neither as a leader nor a fast follower. But we can catch up.”
The City Council was scheduled to take up the matter earlier this month, but it was tabled due to a heavy agenda. Since that time, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill1346 which bans the sale of gas-powered landscaping equipment, including but not limited to leaf blowers, in 2024.
“Concerns about the use of this equipment have predominantly focused on air and noise pollution,” according to a city staff report. “In past discussions concerning the possibility of prohibiting leaf blowers, there was interest in a complete prohibition of them. However, due to advances in technology in recent years, electric leaf blowers (corded and battery powered) have become more viable alternatives, which has shifted the discussion to the possibility of prohibiting gas-powered leaf blowers only.”
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 gardners 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.