Those loud, obnoxious, ear piercing, and polluting gas-powered leaf blowers at the hip of independent gardeners and residential users will soon be going by the wayside.
South Pasadena City Council members made sure of it with recent legislative action banning their use beginning October 1, 2022 and California Governor Gavin Newsom took further action by signing a bill, AB 1346, that will prohibit the sale of new gas-powered leaf-blowers, lawn mowers and other off-road engines that could go into effect by 2024.
Addressing the high pollution of yard maintenance, the City of South Pasadena held a “Electrify Your Lawn, No Gas South Pas” celebration of the ban last Saturday at Garfield Park in town. Among the speakers was South Pasadena Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti, who spearheaded the local ordinance; State Senator Anthony Portantino, and Dan Mabe, the founder of the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA), on hand to demonstrate the latest battery-operated lawn equipment.
“This is basically an outreach festival,” said Mabe. “The City of South Pasadena has passed what we feel is a prudent leaf-blower ordinance and now it is making an educational initiative out of it. With a one-year grace period, we’re engaging the community – property owners, commercial property owners, anybody who operates as a gardener inside the city – to make the effort. Banning gas-powered leaf-blowers is a quality of life issue. From AGZA’s standpoint, the health of the workers is so important and the sustainability for the planet is crucial.”
South Pasadena is the first AGZA Green Zone city in the United States, earning certification from the organization to ensure that all grounds maintenance on municipal properties, including parks, is serviced with low-noise zero-emission, clean, quiet, machinery and manual hand tools.
“We have green zones nationally and South Pasadena has trail-blazed as it all started here,” said Mabe, the founder and president of AGZA.
Along with demonstrations of electric power, remarks by the elected officials, the event featured booths of eco-friendly organizations, food, giveaways, music and a family-bicycle ride.
A slimmed down Portantino, who dropped roughly 160 pounds over the past year and today devotes much of his time to exercise, including riding his bike, said “the noise, the pollution is real, and South Pasadena has been a leader [in banning gas-powered leaf blowers] and now the state is following their lead and a big chunk of it is educating the public about it. An event like this is important because not only does it tell people there’s a ban, but there’s a solution and an alternative.”
Companies like Suntek and ACE Hardware, vendors at the event showcasing battery-operated lawn maintenance equipment, joined organizations like the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which offers an incentive program providing up to 75% off on the electric variety of leaf-blowers, mowers and more.
Portantino praised the City of South Pasadena, under Cacciotti’s leadership, saying it “has responded properly” in its efforts to go gas free, relying on electric power to maintain city properties and parks.
“I’m just proud to be a part of this green, important environmental sustainable effort that started in South Pasadena,” said the state senator. “What affects one of us, affects all of us. What affects the air we breathe, the water we drink affects all of us. And getting out of our cars, riding our bikes, and using machinery that doesn’t pollute our neighbors is important.”
Portantino was among 120 individuals who signed up for the approximate 5-mile bike ride through the tree-lined streets of South Pasadena. To take part, the new-look Portantino, who rides his bike about five days per week, had cycled from his home in La Cañada, taking him about an hour and 10 minutes to go the distance.
“Getting people out of their cars is important for our health,” he said. “My former routine was eating a bag of potato chips everyday. Now I ride my bike everyday.”
Talking to the crowd, an enthusiastic Cacciotti, who joined Portantino and others on the bike tour of parts of the city, said Saturday’s event was important “because it’s all about clean air, getting rid of pollution, and letting everyone know that we as a city are banning gas-powered leaf blowers. We have to get rid of this type of equipment because we are in the most polluted region in the country.”
Cacciotti, a longtime champion for clean air, serves as a board member for the SCAQMD. He pointed out that one-hour using a gas-powered leaf blower emits the same amount of emissions as driving from South Pasadena to Denver.
“What comes out of the gas-powered leaf blowers contributes to climate change, which are severe storms, wild fires in California, flooding, and droughts,” he said. “But they also impact our health. All the gases that come out of them – carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, particulate-matter – contribute to serious health effects, causing or exacerbating asthma and premature death. Lawn equipment in California that is gas-powered now has surpassed cars and light-duty trucks as a source of toxic pollution in our state.”
South Pasadena, added City Manager Armine Chaparyan, taking in the event with members of her family, has been “so instrumental and forward thinking for decades now and I think what we’re doing at this point is an example of all the hard work that the council and the community is willing to do together to really send a message to everyone that we’re here to be a sustainable community and it’s extremely important that we take every step possible, including having a ban on gas-powered tools. This is just the beginning. I think we’ve said it for many decades that we’re environmentally sustainable and friendly. We’re really doing the work that it takes to get there.”