Encinitas is poised to join many other California cities that have imposed restrictions on the use of leaf blowers.
City Council members voted 4-0 Wednesday, June 19, to give initial approval to an ordinance prohibiting gas-powered leaf blowers and restricting the hours of use on those that are electricity- or battery-powered.
The council’s action primarily aims to reduce the city’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Most climatologists believe the emissions are spurring global warming. The phenomenon could have disastrous worldwide repercussions, such as massive storms and flooding.
“We are in the fight of our lives right now against issues relating to the greenhouse gas difficulties that we have (including sea level rise),” Councilman Tony Kranz said. “The planet’s warming to the point that we no longer will be able to inhabit it. ... Frankly, I would hope, as a council, this is just the first step.”
Of six speakers appearing before the council during Wednesday’s session, only one opposed the proposed ordinance. It is scheduled for the council’s final approval in early July, and would become effective 30 days after that.
The prohibition would be phased in over several months, starting with restrictions on the city, followed by the commercial sector and then residents.
Resident Greg Lefevre spoke fervently against the ordinance. He argued the city’s analysis was wrong and the batteries used to operate blowers were more environmentally hazardous than gas emissions.
“This ordinance is based on no science at all — Point 1,” he said. “Point 2 — you’re going to replace an annoying pollutant with a dangerous toxin. And 3, you’re dumping an economic burden on people who can ill afford to pay that.”
The other speakers voiced support for the law, not only based on greenhouse gas emissions, but also because the devices are noisy and stir up health-threatening dust.
“It has become a hazard to my health, and I know that I’m not alone,” said ranch owner Audrey Reynolds.
She said she is exposed regularly to the effects of leaf blowers operated from neighboring properties. “It is a hazard to the health of the operators also if they would only do their research and realize that one day they are going to wind up with cancer. You are going to be doing us a huge favor by introducing this ordinance and protecting us as people.”
In endorsing the ordinance, the council directed the city’s staff to make some changes. Those included limiting legal leaf blowers to be operated from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., except on Sundays and holidays; exploring the possibility of offering rebates or trade-ins for legal blowers; developing a strategy for disposing of blower batteries; and instituting a well-publicized implementation program.
Encinitas Deputy Mayor Jody Hubbard was absent from the meeting because of a health issue, city officials said.
Once the leaf-blower ordinance is officially adopted, Encinitas will be among more than 80 California cities that have enacted some form of restrictions against the tools. Del Mar was among the earliest jurisdictions to ban the equipment.