First published in the April 21 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
La Cañada Flintridge continues to move forward with its climate action plan and is exploring the ban of gas-powered leaf blowers throughout the city.
The issue was discussed during a City Council meeting Tuesday and LCF seems to be heading toward a path similar to that of South Pasadena, which banned gas-powered leaf blowing machines last August.
It is one of several ideas the city’s climate action plan ad hoc subcommittee, which has been meeting biweekly the last few months, is considering to reduce noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
“The reason we’re bringing this to you now is to start making some progress,” said Councilman Jonathan Curtis, who is part of the subcommittee. “So, where we can make some progress such as leaf blowers or other things that we can make small differences now, let’s go ahead and do that.”
The priority for the subcommittee currently is an ordinance restricting gas-powered leaf blowers. Emissions from small off-read engines, such as lawnmowers and trimmers, exceed those from today’s vehicles, according to the California Air Resources Board.
Landscaping equipment powered by gas emit toxic pollutants carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which contribute to climate change. Gas-powered leaf blowers can also create levels of formaldehyde, benzene and fine particulate matter that can cause dizziness, asthma attacks, headaches and heart and lung disease.
Emily Stadnicki, the city’s principal planner, added that landscaping equipment can also contribute to water pollution with debris blown into the streets and storm drains and noise pollution that can affect the hearing of those nearby.
Several residents voiced their support behind the ban and were relieved to see the city take steps in accomplishing its goal of reducing emissions via the climate action plan. Such objectives are also embedded into the air quality element of the city’s general plan.
“I know we’re not trying to get a discussion about the entire planet, but we have to start somewhere and in our city we need to start doing something about it,” said Curtis, who added that communication and outreach is essential when making such a change.
Mayor Terry Walker asked city staff to look into partnering with companies that create electric leaf blowers for a rebate program that would alleviate the costs of purchasing new equipment for landscapers and residents. The city developed a similar rebate program with Ring doorbells and invested $25,000 in 2017 to encourage residents and business owners to purchase the video surveillance equipment.
Councilman Mike Davitt agreed with his colleagues but asked that city staff do more research and present an ordinance that will not only be approved by the subcommittee but by all those who are affected.
“I just want to be careful that we’re addressing all the unintended consequences so that it has the least impact to our residents and the least impact to our businesses,” he said.