Winding his way through neighborhoods in South Pasadena last week, City Councilmember Michael Cacciotti was on a mission to seek out gardeners working around homes, especially those using loud, noisy, polluting gas-operated leaf blowers.
Once targeting them, Cacciotti, an environmentalist fierce in his efforts to clear the air of toxins, passed along information that the city has placed a ban on the devices in favor of emission free electric models as an eco-friendly option to improve the lives of others in the town he helps to govern.
Cacciotti also invited the dozen or so gardeners he met along his travels to a free electric leaf blower event, hosted by the city, going on that day at the entrance of the city’s Garfield Park.
South Pasadena city staff was on hand at the site to answer inquiries about the citywide ban that went into effect last October, and is slowly gaining traction by independent gardeners and local citizens. Eventually, after making the rounds notifying yard workers and some of his constituents, Cacciotti made it to the park centrally located in town where he was joined by members of the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA), B&M Lawn & Garden Center, Ace Hardware, West Coast Arborist and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) – all trumpeting the sound of battery use over gas when it comes to power.
“We anticipated a push back from some of the gardeners in going all-electric as we were getting the word out,” explained Cacciotti, “We notified all the property owners in the city about the ban, and now there’s no excuse. People have to make the conversion. A lot of people in favor of the ban are getting impatient in hearing gas-polluting leaf blowers in our city.”
A small percentage, maybe five percent of gardeners in town, according to Cacciotti, has made the switch to battery-operated leaf blowers. In addition to his civic duties in South Pasadena, the five-time mayor who joined the council in 2001 has been on the board of directors for the South Coast Air Quality Management District for 15 years and currently serves as the organization’s vice chair, recently elected to the prestigious position.
“We have a lot more to do to get the word out about the ban in our city before we begin issuing warnings, followed up by fines to those not using them,” he said. “Gas-powered leaf blowers are a major source of pollution and seriously impacts our residents, children, seniors, and animals. It’s making a health impact on all of us and we need to do something about it now.
“These harmful particulates pass our blood brain barrier and go to our circulatory system, into our organs, into our lungs, into our heart,” Cacciotti continued. “We know it causes premature deaths, affects kids with asthma, autism and is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This is something very, very serious.”
Through his dedication and efforts, Cacciotti has become a prominent figure in the environmental activism movement in California and a source of inspiration for those who share his vision for a more sustainable future.
“I’m passionate about protecting the health of others,” he insisted, pointing out there are significant savings available to those looking to make the switch to electric powered lawn and garden equipment. “We’re patiently moving forward. Our ban on gas-powered leaf blowers is a benefit for everybody.”
Dan Mabe, founder and president of AGZA, an organization dedicated to promoting sustainable landscaping practices and reducing noise and air pollution in outdoor environments, was busy demonstrating a variety of battery-powered lawn and maintenance equipment during the April 6 event.
Mabe is considered a leading expert in green landscaping, and his work has helped to raise awareness about the impact of gas-powered landscaping equipment on the environment and public health, helping to drive a shift toward more sustainable healthy practices in the industry. AGZA works with parks, schools, municipalities, and other organizations to certify them as “Certified Green Zones,” using electric and battery-powered landscaping equipment.
AGZA Green Zones prioritize the use of low-noise, low-emission equipment and sustainable landscaping practices to create healthier, more livable outdoor areas.
AGZA is making a significant effort in reducing carbon emissions, promoting sustainable landscaping practices, and overall improving air quality. He is a passionate advocate for sustainable landscaping and has been recognized for his work by the U.S. EPA and the Sierra Club, along with SCAQMD, of course.
The Clean Off-Road Equipment Incentive Voucher Project or simply California CORE, for short, and SCAQMD are offering incentive programs in an effort to get battery-operated lawn and maintenance equipment into the hands of gardeners, and away from polluting gas devices.
The California CORE project, according to its website, is a $27 million voucher incentive effort intended to encourage California off-road equipment users to purchase or lease commercialized zero-emission technology with a point-of-sale discount.
“This is statewide money and it’s going fast,” said Cacciotti. “People need to jump on it. Word to the wise, move quickly or you’re going to be spending full price for the same equipment.”
SCAQMD’s Commercial Electric Lawn and Garden Equipment Incentive and Exchange Program, available to commercial landscapers and gardeners, including the “mom and pop” variety, along with cities, school districts and non-profits, can receive an 85 percent discount on battery-operated devices at pre-authorized retailers.
“Just think about how much people can save in going the electric-powered route,” said Cacciotti, “and how much it’s going to help the environment. Gardeners will no longer have to buy gas again, never buy oil, never have to buy spark plugs, oil filters, never have to inhale those pollutants and chemicals. And on top of all that, they will appreciate not hearing those loud sounds from gas-powered leaf blowers ever again in our city.”
Through the SCAQMD, Cacciotti said about $4 million is available for the 17 million people it serves in the four-county region.
Mabe engaged about 25 gardeners, telling them about two incentive programs designed to reduce the costs for them to switch to electric. “I asked all of them, ‘Do you have an old piece of gas-powered equipment that is on its way out and needs replaced?’ One hundred percent of them said yes. At that point, I was able to break down the savings of the two programs, and they recognized that it does make sense to go with the battery-operated equipment. The event was very successful in that respect.”
To learn more about California CORE and its discounts, go to Californiacore.org.
AQMD programs are available to all individuals in the agency’s four-county jurisdiction – LA, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside. For more information about savings, go to: www.aqmd.gov/LawnGarden.