As he goes from one city to the next explaining the environmental impacts of poor air quality to groups of civic leaders, Michael Cacciotti’s message – underscoring the importance of eliminating harmful pollutants – often comes from the heart.
“We can all do better in pushing for better air quality standards,” said Cacciotti, a member of the South Pasadena City Council, including five stints as mayor, since 2001. “It troubles me sometimes when I see the impact of pollution on others, especially our young people when I think about their future.”
Along with his council duties, which can be highly time consuming, Cacciotti has been traveling to each of the 34 cities he represents mostly in the eastern San Gabriel Valley as the vice chair for the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), a government agency responsible for regulating air pollution in the South Coast Air Basin of California, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties.
During a recent stop in South El Monte, as approximately 25 students from the city’s local high school were receiving awards, Cacciotti showed concern about what lies ahead in terms of their health.
“Their high school is separated only by a chain-link fence from the 60 Freeway – one of the largest and busiest goods movement freeways in the world – exposing the kids and teachers to nothing but fumes and dangerous gasses,” said the longtime environmentalist.
“We all have a deep heart and soul,” he continued. “It’s so sad when you think about students attending school in close proximity of all those high polluting, heavy duty, diesel-driven trucks.”
It’s a deadly thoroughfare, insists Cacciotti, noting that 300,000 to 400,000 average vehicles travel the 60 Freeway daily, along with tens of thousands of rigs.
“I just hope these kids have a future when I think about the amounts of trucks going past their school each day,” he insisted.
Air pollutants in the form of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are a partial list of the emission sources Cacciotti in his regulatory efforts, with the help of others, hopes to rid of someday.
The framework established by the SCAQMD centers around understanding the health impacts associated with respiratory, cardiovascular, autism, reproductive and other concerns.
In its continuing effort to clear the air of toxins, the City of South Pasadena has reached a major milestone after being recognized as the first city in the nation to begin the process of completely transitioning to all electric with its police patrol, detective and administrative vehicles. A major event is being planned, likely sometime this summer, when the first in a fleet of battery operated Tesla vehicles will be unveiled to the community.
Clean air regulatory efforts are a way of life in South Pasadena, where the city has placed a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, joining a growing number of other municipalities working on proposals to eliminate the devices in favor of electric models. They are far better for a person’s health says Cacciotti, noting that running a fuel-hungry leaf blower for an hour is equivalent to taking a 1,100-mile drive in a polluting gas car.
City officials have held a number of meetings and workshops, some at local parks, explaining the ban, while showcasing a variety of lawn and garden equipment operated on battery power.
On an historical note, South Pasadena became the first American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA) Green Zone in the nation back in 2015, certifying it for servicing and maintaining all city grounds and municipal properties – mowing, hedging, edging, trimming, sawing and blowing –with low-noise zero-emission – battery machinery and manual hand tools.
“We’ve made great strides as a city to clear the air and we’re always looking at ways to do more,” said Cacciotti.
Two programs, one offered by SCAQMD and another by California CORE, provide extensive discounts on battery-operated leaf blowers.
“Both offer tremendous savings to our independent gardeners and residents,” said Cacciotti. “I encourage everyone to take full advantage of them before the funds run dry.”
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. For more information about savings, go to: www.aqmd.gov/LawnGarden.
For additional information about programs, events, and resources, go to: SouthPasadenaCA.gov/LeafBlowers or visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call (626) (626) 403-7240.