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California pulls the plug on gas-powered leaf blowers under new law

Original post made on Oct 13, 2021

Nearly three decades after Peninsula cities began implementing bans on gas-powered leaf blowers, the effort has found a foothold at the state level, with the governor signing a bill that will phase out their sales.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 1:28 PM

Comments (19)

Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2021 at 1:39 pm

TimR is a registered user.

Back when Palo Alto first banned gas leaf blowers, I remember seeing a landscaper at City Hall using an electric blower plugged into a gas generator. So yeah, banning the gas generators is kind of key here.

Posted by Fr0hickey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2021 at 2:18 pm

Fr0hickey is a registered user.

The new state law casts a wider net than these local ordinances. It applies to all devices with small off-road engines under 25 horsepower.

According to the CARB, SORE (small off-road engines) are 19kW or less.

I bet that some manufacturers will make 20kW or more to avoid the regulation.
Others will buy the electric leaf blowers, and also buy gas-powered electric generators in order to keep running the electric leaf blowers.

Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2021 at 9:39 am

Neal is a registered user.

No problem. These tools can easily be purchased in Nevada or Oregon. BTW Oregon has no sales tax.

Posted by Don Kenyon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2021 at 10:57 am

Don Kenyon is a registered user.

When will Palo alto start enforcing the no gas leaf blowers law enacted in 2005?

Posted by sequoiadean
a resident of Los Altos
on Oct 14, 2021 at 11:19 am

sequoiadean is a registered user.

I applaud the Governor signing this bill. It's an important step towards eliminating these awful devices. Those of you thinking of the workarounds around the bill - perhaps the bill will be modified in the future to deal with these workarounds - just like with many issues, we have to start somewhere.

As far as enforcing the ban in Palo Alto, you should bring that up with the city council and the police department. Here in Los Altos the police are very responsive to calls about leaf blowers, although I've found the best way to stop their use is to simply TALK to your neighbors who employ gardeners who use them (as of course no homeowner ever uses one him/herself), to get them to switch to electric.

Posted by funky
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2021 at 11:56 am

funky is a registered user.

Palo Alto had this law on the books for ~15 years. As with many laws passed in Palo Alto, this one is not enforced. I looks like I should be moving to Los Altos who does enforce their laws.

Posted by Carol Scott
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 14, 2021 at 12:40 pm

Carol Scott is a registered user.

I support the ban on gas leaf blowers -- they are dirty and loud. However, if this is just another feel good law with no assistance to gardeners and others who need to transition and no enforcement, than why bother? Save your breath and money, and work toward helping and persuading your own gardener to change to electric equipment.

During the pandemic, a car parked around the corner from us for several hours a day -- idling his car to power his laptop computer on which he was working. He was never disturbed except by my husband who asked him not to do that. Didn't work.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I have a battery operated blower. It works great. No Chord, No gas smell. This job can get done with the new tools that are out there now.

Posted by M
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2021 at 1:57 pm

M is a registered user.

Palo Alto's ban has always seemed to be a feel good exercise. It provided no financial assistance to gardeners to make the transition and allows the police (who like with vaccine mandates get to decide not to comply if they don't want to) to ignore to enforcement complaints. Cities that are serious about banning leaf blowers make home and property owners responsible, and some limit their use to leaf season -- the fall. (Their current heavy use during the drought makes walking the streets a gauntlet of dust and debris, and is certainly not healthy.)

Leaf blowers are extreme polluters - particularly those with 2-stroke engines, where lubrication oil is mixed into the gas. In addition, they cause significant hearing loss.

I would urge homeowners who hire gardeners who are still using gas powered yard equipment to request that they use battery powered equipment (which is rapidly becoming superior -- reliable, lighter to use, quieter, healthier) and if necessary and possible, help them financially make the transition. In my experience, gardeners are very open to battery powered equipment, but are often concerned about the cost. The city should address this barrier to their use, but some homeowners may have the means to do this as well.

Posted by Puffin
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 14, 2021 at 3:36 pm

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I sincerely hope Stanford finally pays attention to this!

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 14, 2021 at 6:05 pm

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I really don't care about the minimal CO2 they emit, just the nasty and disgustingly inconsiderate noise they make. Their CO2 is scientifically unimportant compared to governmentally protected gross pollution. Like in the USA, where coal power plants are legal!!! And it's impossible to ban the manufacturing and sale of monster mega truck and mega SUV nightmares intended to gratify the whims of ignorant but wealthy dillettantes, and not just only for essential economic uses. What I care about is the nasty NOISE these lawn devices make.

So, PA should put a limited ban on noise pollution of any "mow, blow, and go" lawn and tree services ("landscaping" and "gardening" are sick jokes for those morons) --- plus HOMEOWNERS. The the noise limit should ban both commercial services and homeowners from making such disruptive noise except between 9 AM to 5 PM Mon thru Fri, and to ban all such noise on Saturday and Sunday, and all holidays and their weekends. Electric blowers, mowers, chainsaws, and similar devices included in the ban. They're nasty too.

Modern society is far too NOISY. Time to shut it during hours when people expect and need SILENCE. Mon thru Fri, 9AM to 5 PM. And if you don't like this, too bad. I really don't care.

Posted by John Donegan
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2021 at 10:42 am

John Donegan is a registered user.

As usual, California hasn't thought this through. Consider the big winter storm when trees fall and the power goes out for an extended period. Electric chainsaws will not clear the roads, nor be of much help any distance from an outlet even when the power is on.. And,of course, electrically powered generators do not make much sense. Even if you spend an immense amount of money and buy a home battery, it may not last for the duration of the outage. Good luck to anyone relying on electrical medical appliances.

Posted by Fr0hickey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2021 at 3:18 pm

Fr0hickey is a registered user.

@John Donegan

Reminds me that I should give my gas chainsaw a tuneup.
But, we should not have an issue this winter. We are in a La Nina year, which means milder winter rains.

I predict that small off road engines will get larger to skirt this regulation.

Posted by Fr0hickey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2021 at 3:21 pm

Fr0hickey is a registered user.

What if the state gave every person under the age of 18, a voucher for a brand-new rake from Home Depot/Lowes/OSH/etc?

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2021 at 11:51 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

I'm over 60, and I rake my lawn. Good exercise.

Our yards just aren't the big, so it's just not that hard.

Posted by DrWaycool
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 18, 2021 at 1:33 pm

DrWaycool is a registered user.

Ditto what John Donegan has said. I get it that all the suburbanites don’t like noisy smelly leaf blowers run by “non english-speaking” workers (who will suffer more than anyone under this law). I doubt many of them have had experience with any of their neighbors running chainsaws for any length of time. Another NIMBY legislation that fails to consider anyone or anything outside their narrow world view. Not everyone lives in California suburbs. Those of us who live more remotely, manage private land more remotely or work as disaster volunteers rely on chainsaws and weed whackers to keep fire hazards down. Creating defensible space with these tools that can’t be done with current electric power tools. Restricting the purchase only to “emergency workers” negates the fact that the majority of this fire prevention landscaping is done by private owners or private landscaping and tree service companies they contract with, none of them fall within the “emergency worker” category. Although in my experience anyone who’s trying to use these tools to mitigate wildfire risk is working in a de facto state of emergency in California.
As to the generator issue, not many people need a 25+hp/22 kW generator or who can afford a powerwall and are willing to wait 1 to 2 years to get one. All while we are heading into a winter that is likely lead to a lot of power outages or more dry summers with PG&E planned outages during red-flag days. Not to mention gas powered pumps for winter floods or fire suppression, portable arc welders, air compressors or log-splitters. It’s not surprising that legislators who have no experience or ability to consider workers and tools outside their limited experience or imagination would come up with such a law.

Rich Lee MD
Medical Director, South Skyline Emergency Preparedness Organization

Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2021 at 11:40 am

Mama is a registered user.

My husband tells me this will outlaw small home generators, something we all need critically in emergencies. Two kept my neighborhood in safety and camaraderie in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake. We should all go out and buy backup generators now!

Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2021 at 5:16 pm

mjh is a registered user.

Next California needs to address the motor boats. Lake Tahoe is so polluted by them the water has not been clear for decades, and getting worse and worse each passing year.

Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2021 at 1:54 pm

ndn is a registered user.

Dr. Lee is absolutely right.
How will my gardener set up my defense perimeter (1.2 acres) for fire in my Northen California house with electrical tools?
This law should only apply to suburbia and have an inbuilt transition time.

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