WEDNESDAY | Battery-powered Leaf Blower Demonstration in South Pasadena

A battery-powered leaf blower demonstration, along with other zero emission equipment, will be held on Wednesday, anytime from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Garfield Park

FILE PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com News | City officials joined Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti during a demonstration of a mower and handheld tools, including a leaf blower, trimmer and hedge clipper, at Garfield Park in the city

California is on its way to banning the sale of gas-leaf blowers and lawn mowers after the state Legislature passed a bill that is now headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.

South Pasadena is already one step ahead when it comes to one of the two machines. On September 1, the City Council voted unanimously to prohibit the use of gas leaf blowers starting October 1, 2022.

Assembly Bill 1346, authored by Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, is designed to phase out noisy, ear-splitting air polluting machines and transition to cleaner, battery-operated, green equipment.

Michael Cacciotti, South Pasadena’s mayor pro tem and a board member for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, who was at the forefront of the city’s new ordinance, said using a gas-powered leaf blower for one hour is equivalent in emissions to a vehicle driving 1,100 miles from Los Angeles to Denver.

Helping to get the word out about the ban, Cacciotti, along with city officials, have begun a yearlong outreach effort to get independent gardeners and residents on board with the ban.

A live hands-on demonstration of battery-powered leaf blowers and other equipment – hedge trimmers, weed wackers and mowers – will be held on Wednesday, September 15, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Garfield Park. The public is invited between those hours for continual demonstrations.

Dan Mabe, the founder of the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA), will demonstrate the equipment. South Pasadena is the first certified AGZA Green Zone City in the United States, ensuring that all its municipal grounds and city parks are maintained with battery-electric machinery. 

“It will be the first of many opportunities for people to see the technology, touch it, use it and get a chance to understand its benefits,” said Cacciotti of Wednesday’s demonstration open to the public. “Basically a battery-operated lawnmower is the same as gas without all the drawbacks and money spent, including maintenance and upkeep. It’s clean, free of gas and oil, and so much better for a person’s health. That’s why we implemented the ordinance.”

Away from his local governmental duties, Cacciotti is a longtime youth soccer coach for AYSO, about 40 all toll, 25 in South Pasadena. “Over those years I’ve had kids with asthma,” he explained. “Usually there are one or two here and there. This year, watching our kids in practice, a couple of them had trouble breathing. I asked one, ‘Do you have asthma?’ When he said yes, I asked him to sit down and take a breather as he had a nebulizer with him. After the game, another parent of a player let me know that his child had to take asthma medication. And as third parent asked another what medication their child was taking, I quickly discovered I have three players on my team with asthma. I have to keep an eye on them because of pollution, particles in the air. It’s unprecedented, I’ve never had this before.”

Cacciotti stressed the ban is not only good for the community but for players running around South Pasadena parks playing soccer, flag football and baseball.

“There are many serious health implications,” stressed the mayor pro tem, “for the kids in our own city and the thousands of kids throughout Los Angeles County who are exposed to this and don’t even know about it. I just want people to realize how important this ban on gas-powered leaf blowers is, knowing that it’s going to protect their health and well-being.”

Along with Wednesday’s kickoff on the ban, Cacciotti said a large-scale family event likely in Garfield Park is being planned for sometime in November.

With the California Assembly’s recent action passed out of the state Senate, now on it’s way to Newsom for his signature, Cacciotti likes the idea that the bill provides for significant rebates to commercial users, including independent gardeners, to purchase zero-emission equipment at lower rates

“The South Coast Air Quality Management District offers a lawnmower rebate program that allows consumers to buy these mowers at about 75% off,” he said. “But people need to act fast before the funds could soon be exhausted.”

For more information, visit www.aqmd.gov/lawnmower or call (Tuesday-Friday) (888) 425-6247.