Council has change of heart on leaf-blower operating hours

New proposed ordinance now doesn’t ban blowing on Sundays.
(U-T file photo)

A proposed city ordinance regarding leaf-blower use may not end up being as strict as originally envisioned when it comes to operating hours for electric leaf-blowers, though its proposed ban on gas-powered blowers remains intact.

Scheduled to make a final vote Wednesday night on the proposed ordinance, Encinitas City Council members instead decided to tweak it a bit. Councilman Tony Kranz started off the discussion, saying he was having “second thoughts” about banning blowing on Sundays.

He said he thinks there’s plenty of people like him who intend to get their yard work all done on Saturdays, but ultimately end up doing the work on Sundays.

Councilman Joe Mosca told him that he never liked the Sunday ban proposal and would be quite happy to eliminate it. Families are too busy on Saturdays transporting kids to soccer games and other events, he said.

“Sunday is that day to do things around the house,” he said.

Councilwoman Jody Hubbard said she could understand why someone would want to use a blower on Sundays, but said their neighbors would probably like one day of quiet.

“I’m open (to allowing it on Sunday), but I think there’s two sides to it,” she said.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she supported the Sunday ban as a noise pollution prevention measure.

Ultimately, the council agreed to allow electric leaf-blower use from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and to shave off two hours daily from rest of the week’s proposed hours, so that those would be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., instead of continuing until 8 p.m. The latest proposed hours for electric blowers are still more strict than what’s currently allowed in Encinitas. Leaf-blowers, both gas and electric, currently can be operated from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

The council had been scheduled to give its final approval Wednesday night to the proposed ordinance, which it initially approved June 19. The newly revised ordinance now will require a second council vote at a later date.

Electric blower operating hours are a small part of the proposed ordinance, which calls for banning the use of gas-powered blowers as an environmental measure to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Battery-operated or electric cord-powered devices, which are considered more environmentally friendly because they don’t produce as much air pollution, would be exempt.

The proposed gas-blower ban is expected to allow the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 128 metric tons by 2020 and 142 metric tons by 2030. That’s a small percentage of the city’s general greenhouse gas emissions, which were estimated at 500,000 metric tons in 2012, but every bit helps, city environmental officials have said.

First-time violators of the proposed ban would receive a warning notice. Second-time offenders could receive a $100 fine. A second fine would cost $200, and after that the fine increases to $1,000, the proposed ordinance states.

— Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union Tribune