Regulation

California Cities and State Regulators Are Coming for Your Gas-Powered Leaf Blower

Some 60 cities have banned or restricted gas-powered landscaping equipment. State air quality regulators are looking to do the same.

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Californians blows a little too much for the likes of state regulators and city governments, both of whom have been leading the charge against gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers.

Some 60 cities in the Golden state have already passed bans or restrictions on gas-powered landscaping equipment. Now the California Air Resources Board (CARB)—which regulates emissions in the state—is crafting long-term plans to phase them out statewide, according to reporting from the San Francisco Chronicle.

CARB will lower the allowable amount of emissions these machines can produce this year, with an eye toward zeroing out all such emissions by 2022. Other local governments have been less patient, passing or proposing immediate bans that have Earth-saving potential.

"What I think we need to realize is that we have to do something different for climate change in the world," said Pat Eklund, the Mayor Pro Tem of the California city of Novato, who proposed a gas-powered leaf blower ban in December, to the Chronicle. "If not, we are going to see a different world than we do today. Every little bit is going to help."

In addition to the global implications of prohibiting certain types of lawnmowers, there also appears to be some smaller-minded motivations at play: The noise produced by these machines is disturbing quiet suburban neighborhoods.

Groups like Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento have been leading the charge against leaf blowers on noise pollution grounds since the 1990s, arguing that even if these machines produced conversation-levels of noise (65 decibels), their use is still rude and invasive.

"Don't be fooled by comparison of 65 decibels from a leaf blower to the volume of a normal conversation. You wouldn't want a noise in your home as loud as a normal conversation that you had not invited and could not control," reads one post from the group.

Indeed, despite all the talk of fighting global warming, cities like Palo Alto have banned gas leaf blowers only in residential neighborhoods. Emissions produced by landscaping commercial properties, I assume, could still affect the environment.

According to a CARB factsheet, small off-road engines (aka SOREs) are a significant source of emissions in the state. "Operating the best-selling commercial lawn mower for one hour emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving the best-selling 2017 passenger car, a Toyota Camry, about 300 miles," notes the agency.

These bans can nevertheless be hard on landscaping businesses. Electric lawncare equipment, they say, isn't practical, and doesn't offer the same level of performance as gas-powered equivalents. One business owner told the Chronicle he had stopped accepting jobs in the city of Mill Valley after they banned gas-powered leaf blowers.

A well-manicured lawn, maintained by loud, gas-guzzling machines, has long been a symbol of freedom, prosperity, and the American dream. A people who would trade that away for fewer emissions and a slightly quieter neighborhood are letting their liberties go to seed.

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  1. “Try raking the leave instead, Guillermo. I’m having a cocktail by the pool and I’d like to do it in peace and quiet.”

    1. I dunno. If Guillermo informs you that the price will be higher due to the greater time and effort, and you agree to the price because you’d prefer it to be quiet as you hang out by the pool you paid for, why is there a problem here?

      Oh, wait, I forgot, the state is supposed to hire Guillermo to blow the leaves into your pool, and then threaten to fine you unless you remove the leaves from your pool in 30 days, and then charge you a permit fee to hire someone to come back and fish them out of your pool… and oh, it turns out Guillermo suffered from inhalation of fumes and loud noise during the mandatory permitted wet leaf retrieval, did you fill our state insurance enhancement form abc123xyz and pay the extra supplement for the government program on mandatory health care for noise effects on mandatory permitted swimming pool leaf retrieval?

      Ooooh, mistake. Big mistake.

  2. “What I think we need to realize is that we have to do something different for climate change in the world,” said Pat Eklund, the Mayor Pro Tem of the California city of Novato, who proposed a gas-powered leaf blower ban in December, to the Chronicle. “If not, we are going to see a different world than we do today.”

    This is why Pat Eklund gets paid the big bucks.

    1. SOLAR POWERED LEAF BLOWERS.

      Electric blowers blow. Pain in the neck.

      1. I look forward to starting mine up in the spring and raise it to sky while shouting, ‘ECK-Loooooooond!’

  3. dummies. if not gas, electric. more brownouts, anyone?

    1. Electricity magically comes out of the wall. Duh.

      1. I thought it came from environmental activists walking around barefoot on shag carpet all day.

  4. California Cities and State Regulators Are Coming for Your Gas-Powered Leaf Blower

    To be honest, I was surprised that they waited so long.

    1. Fortunately I live in NJ. That could never happen here…

      1. they came w/vacuum trucks and picked up our leaves there.

        1. They do that in my town, but you still have to get the leaves to the street.

          And talk about noise, have you heard those things?

          1. one year we took like 7 houses’ worth, made a pile in my buddy’s backyard and jumped off the roof into it

  5. I could go along with a ban (on noise grounds) but only if they replaced gas powered leaf blowers with child labor.

    1. So, have children blow the leaves around? I’m not 100% sure how that will work but I’m dead certain things are going to get really gross when your mom goes to suck start one of them.

      1. Was thinking Crusty would be changing his name to Leafy…

        1. Whatever happened to Crusty any way? I somewhat miss his “humors”

  6. I hate leaf blowers, and the only lawn mower I ever bought was electric because I only use it once a year, at the beginning of summer, to cut down the dying grass.

    I’m tempted to go out and buy the loudest most polluting leaf blower and lawn mower I can find.

  7. The market has already solved this “problem”. The battery powered lawn tools available now are superior to gas for the vast majority of residential users

    1. The battery powered lawn tools available now are superior to gas for the vast majority of residential users

      Depending on how you define this “problem”, they’re inferior, especially if you live in a place where the grid is still powered by coal. The real solution is to contract the same landscaping business that your neighbors use so that they can come and do all the yards at once on the same can of gas and during the day when no one’s home.

    2. Your citation fell off.

      Gas blowers are superior which is why they were the product of choice.

    3. charge one w/o plugging it into the magic wall

  8. Indeed, despite all the talk of fighting global warming, cities like Palo Alto have banned gas leaf blowers only in residential neighborhoods.

    Also, fines for not cleaning up your leaves, not disposing of them in city-approved refuse containers, as well as for felling mature trees will *also* continue to be enforced disproportionately against residential property owners.

  9. Government bans on products or services is unconstitutional.

    States would have an easier time amending their state constitutions to ban things but they dont.

    1. don’t laws that ban things have to prove they’re preventing some sort of public harm or improving safety? I guess that would explain the noise complaint tacked on, because I would love to see the Greenies argue in court that “gas-powered lawn equipment needs to be outlawed because my eco-religion says its evil.”

      1. First, state and the US Constitution have to give government the power to ban something.

        Then rules can be made about how hard it would be for government agencies to then actually ban things and what justification.

        1. No, they don’t, love. The US Constitution is written on the principle of enumerated powers (that is, the Constitution must give the federal government the power to do a thing) but the states retain what are called general police powers. That means the state can ban any old thing they want for any reason or none.

          The only exception would be if the thing they want to ban is explicitly protected by a right that has been “incorporated” against the state. So for example, they can’t ban things if the ban would cause them to violate the First Amendment. But if the ban doesn’t implicate an enumerated and incorporated protection, then it falls under the Tenth Amendment – a power “reserved to the states respectively”.

          And since counties and municipalities are legally considered parts of the state government, they also have general police powers unless specifically restricted from them by the state.

  10. “Every little bit is going to help.”

    I presume shutting her piehole is out of the question?

  11. “What I think we need to realize is that we have to do something different for climate change in the world,” said Pat Eklund, the Mayor Pro Tem of the California city of Novato, who proposed a gas-powered leaf blower ban in December, to the Chronicle. “If not, we are going to see a different world than we do today. Every little bit is going to help.”

    Prove to me that banning gas-powered leaf blowers will help.

  12. I have to note that many of the cities in California that banned gas-powered lawn equipment will all fine you up the ass if you don’t keep your lawn mowed.

  13. I am surprised that the unions representing manufacture of gas powered lawn equipment allowed this to be introduced, let alone passed.
    What is CA coming to?

    1. The big one, hopefully…

    2. They probably operate out in Trump country, so they are all racists.

    3. Are there unions that represent the manufacture of gas-powered lawn equipment in California?

      1. It wouldn’t surprise me one iota to learn that Stihl (Germany) and Husqvarna (Sweden) are trying drum up a legal pretense to obsolete their gas products in the US.

  14. How about we ban all use of sound amplification, broadcasting, or use of the internet by CA politicians? That should reduce CO2 emissions by a bunch.
    For the children, of course.

  15. Oh fuck off Britschgi. Noise and pollution are violations of my property rights. Those who would fail to respect their neighbors rights for the sake of their own vanity are the one who are throwing away liberty.

    1. Build a wall, goober. Property rights don’t extend to noise.

    2. “…Noise and pollution are violations of my property rights…”

      Really? Let’s see your deed wherein it specifies certain noise levels.
      You.
      Are.
      Full.
      Of.
      Shit.

    3. What about kids playing in the backyard? Going to call the cops?

    4. So the issue is one of mufflers, not banning the device altogether?

    5. Well, it’s true some are a tad over-zealous with caring for their lawns. They’re always revving up some loud toy or machine that really is annoying.

  16. While I shake my head at every redneck in the neighborhood using a leaf blower for 20 mins to get that last bit of grass off of their immaculate driveway when the could use a broom for 2 minutes, this sounds a bad case of virtue signaling NIMBYism.

    Come back when you have a serious study of absolute energy used in gas vs electric. Gas is far more efficient at the bottom line.

  17. “Operating the best-selling commercial lawn mower for one hour emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving the best-selling 2017 passenger car, a Toyota Camry, about 300 miles,” notes the agency.

    Well, I tried mowing my lawn with a Toyota Camry, bit it really made a mess of things.

    1. The two-stepping with the truth is kinda impressive. The Camry will burn way more gas than the mower but in this comparison, the CO2 and the amount of gas burned doesn’t count. The mower would almost certainly emit less pollution with a properly-fitted catalytic converter, but the relative cost for the gain would be moot. Especially considering that my car(s) get 300 mi. put on them pretty routinely, about every week, while my mower/leaf/snow blower only get used that frequently for 1-2 mos. every year.

  18. Libertarians are determined to maintain their freedom and liberty and they don’t care how much it costs the future of this planet.

    1. Get up off of your knees.

      1. Stop being so self centered

        1. You want to be a slave. I don’t.

          1. You just care about yourself and no one else.

            Are you a sociopath, just curious.

            1. I care about myself, my family, friends, and whoever else I choose to care about.

              No, I’m not a sociopath. Are you a sheep? Go back to your handlers and find out.

            2. Selfishness is a virtue.

    2. What costs to the future do leaf blowers impose?

    3. Given the complete lack of evidence that it’s costing “the future of this planet”, well, anything, it seems to me that the threshold freedom and liberty that we should be asked to give up is pretty low.

    4. Libertarians are determined to maintain their freedom and liberty and they don’t care how much it costs the future of this planet.

      Have you met the future of this planet? Dude’s a fucking deadbeat. Credit card always has money to lend and savings account is usually good for some but you generally have to pay those dudes back pretty promptly. Paycheck doesn’t make you pay him back but he’s only got money every couple weeks. 401k and pension is worse than those guys but the future of this planet is an absolute dick. Wtih him and Social Security it’s all “Take. Take. Take” and maybe, if you don’t die too quickly, they might pay you back… somehow.

    5. It doesn’t cost anything. The more capitalist a country is the cleaner it is. The US has reduced CO2 emissions through switching to natural gas. Fracking is good.

    6. You have us figured out.

  19. There isn’t a single aspect of your life that the California Legislature and regulators don’t want to invade. They know better than you and you need to do as you’re told or they will fine and shame you into oblivion!

    1. They won’t stop until they emasculate the state. And when they’re done there they’ll look to export their ideas.

      People always say, ‘what do you care what they do in the USA or California? You’re in Canada!’

      Are you fricken kidding me? California is an influential bellwether seen as a trail blazer by all jurisdictions run by left of centre governments across the continent.

      Apparently, nothing from California can be bad. That’s why I follow and comment on it. I don’t their shit coming here.

      1. Apparently, nothing from California can be bad

        I used to know people in academia who had this attitude – “hey, CA is always on the forefront! All the good new ideas come from there!”

        In a sense, I could agree, but what that misses is that a lot of really, really stupid ideas come from here, as well.

    2. That’s not true. Shooting up heroin and shitting in the street are completely unregulated.

    3. There isn’t a single aspect of your life that the California Legislature and regulators don’t want to invade.

      While that’s generally true, this particular thing is about city councils, not the state legislature.

  20. You people use gas-powered leaf blowers? 3 bucks worth of gas in a pump sprayer and a match takes care of all my leaf problems, no need for the blower.

    1. Those same enviro-fascists, that want to ban leaf-blowers, banned that kind of leaf control long ago.

  21. I’m not sure if this will ever really lead to much. In many of the cities where there are existing bans (L.A. has had one for many years) they’ve been going unenforced for most of that time. Due to the particular demographics of much of the local landscaping workforce, enforcement of these kinds of bans has been deemed “racist” by a lot of the same people who demanded them to be enacted to begin with (or maybe they just found out how much more their gardeners were talking about charging for the extra time needed to to manual raking).

  22. Yawn…more do-somethingism from the do-nothing class. We can all sleep well knowing that the world will be 0.000000000000000001 degree cooler because California has banned gas leaf blowers and lawn mowers. I’ve heard goats can be used to clear brush but they fart/belch which releases methane, 10x more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, so screw it-let your lawn grow and leaves pile up and wait for the next wildfire.

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