South Pasadena City Council Member Michael Cacciotti is encouraging residents and independent gardeners to attend a special demonstration of battery-powered leaf blowers on Wednesday, February 8, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Garfield Park.
Air pollution, ear-piercing noise, global warming and the associated health risks were the impetus two years ago behind South Pasadena City Councilmember Michael Cacciotti’s push for a city-wide ban on gas-powered leaf-blowers.
With it now in effect, yet lightly enforced during a lengthy educational period designed to show the merits of electric over gas, Cacciotti is extending that effort by inviting the public, including independent gardeners and others, to a demonstration of battery powered leaf blowers – void of harmful emissions – on Wednesday, February 8, on a drop-in basis, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Garfield Park in the city.
With strict implementation of the city’s ban on the use of gasoline powered leaf blowers set to start in the next several weeks, “this provides another opportunity for our residents and their gardeners to learn the numerous benefits and substantial advancements in the power, quality and reliability of these battery-powered pieces of equipment,” explained Cacciotti. “Seeing and personally experiencing the new generation of advanced commercial battery electric lawn equipment will dispel concerns about the ability of this equipment to operate comparably with dirty, loud, polluting gasoline powered lawn equipment.”
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Information on huge state financial incentives offered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for the purchase of electric powered equipment will also be provided at the event. In addition, the California Clean Off Road Equipment (CORE) Voucher Incentive Project is offering up to 70 percent off on electric leaf blowers, including batteries and chargers.
“Qualifying backpack battery electric leaf blowers are eligible for an up to $400 per tool voucher incentive (discount) at the point of sale,” explained Cacciotti. “Further, batteries on the backpack and hand held electric leaf blowers are eligible for up to $1,000 in incentive funding. Qualifying battery chargers are also eligible for a voucher of up to $5,000. I would recommend gardeners and other interested individuals act sooner than later as I don’t anticipate these incentive funds will be available in several months as many gardeners around the state are taking advantage of the great program discounts!”
Cacciotti is encouraging property owners, property managers, professional gardeners/landscapers “and anyone else interested in learning about and trying out the most advanced battery electric commercial lawn and garden equipment, including leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, lawn mowers, line trimmers” to attend the demonstration event.
On hand for the walk-through, showing electric versus gas-powered leaf blowers and other gardening maintenance devices, will be Dan Mabe from the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA). The non-profit organization is dedicated to advancing the use of electric and zero-emission equipment in the creation of safe, clean, quiet, and sustainable work environments. AGZA offers a variety of services, including consulting and certifications, educational programs, and green zone creation and management.
“Gas powered leaf blowers and all the gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment has now for the first time surpassed cars and light duty trucks as a harmful source of pollution in our state,” said Cacciotti. “Dirty gasoline powered leaf blowers emit harmful pollutants such as nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, benzene and particulate matter. Nitric oxide combines with volatile organic compounds in the air we breathe and sunlight to produce unhealthy smog, which covers our sky many times each year. The cumulative effect of the thousands of polluting gas powered leaf blowers adversely impacts the health of all humans and their pets, particularly those suffering from asthma, COPD, and other respiratory illnesses.”
When it comes to noise from gas-powered leaf blowers, the council member warned of the long-term physical impact on the hearing of gardeners who use, what he calls, “dirty, polluting equipment everyday,” and on residents “subjected to the daily loud noise from these internal combustion engines heard almost daily in their neighborhoods.”
New battery-driven leaf blowers are not only efficient but in Cacciotti’s mind, as quiet as an electric run Tesla zipping down the roadway.
Emissions from gas-powered motors “contribute to climate change, which impacts the severity and frequency of devastating weather events such as severe storms/hurricanes/tornadoes, flooding, and extreme droughts,” he said. “These extreme weather events as we have seen in just the past few years have caused billions of dollars in property damage and the loss of life all over the world.”
The damage and destruction, Cacciotti insisted, “have also impacted city, county and state budgets as officials try to manage the costly damage caused by these extreme weather events on our infrastructure – our roads, properties, buildings, water systems and pipes, etc.”
Efforts to inform residents about the ban on gas-powered leaf blowers have been made through the City of South Pasadena website, social media posts, newsletter blasts, during a city-hosted open house last fall and written correspondence to local households and businesses.
The city is taking what it calls a soft touch approach, contacting non-electric leaf blower users with information about the ban, and plans to follow it up with stricter compliance efforts through notifications and citations in the coming days.
In 2008, while continuing to serve on the South Pasadena City Council, Cacciotti, a passionate environmentalist, was selected by the mayors/councilmembers in the 34 cities of the Eastern Los Angeles County to represent them on the governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), an agency he continues to serve today. Last month, he was named the vice chair of the organization, which includes 13 board members.
The SCAQMD initially launched its crusade January 1, 1977, setting out to conduct efforts that would help improve air quality and public health in the four counties – LA, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange – it represents. The agency is responsible for regulating stationary sources of air pollution in the South Coast Air Basin, and the Coachella Valley portion of the Salton Sea Basin in Southern California.
Late in 2021, the City of South Pasadena started a community outreach effort for the gas-powered leaf-power ban designed to go into effect October 1 2022.
Educating the public was only one piece in implementing the task. Cacciotti, the catalyst in the ban’s push, joined others on the council in creating a timeline for its ultimate successful execution while researching grants through the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and other programs that could be called on to subsidize the cost of going electric and efficiently minimize the impact on residents, businesses and land care professionals looking to make the switch.
While the ban has been on the books since last October, city staff delayed its full implementation until early this year while community education efforts, like the one scheduled next Wednesday, spread citywide.
Cacciotti likes the idea the equipment demonstration will be a way for community members and professional gardeners to see a variety of electric leaf blowers, lawn mowers, trimmers and hedge clippers in action. City work crews are already making use of the devices in parks throughout town.
“Similar to electric cars, operating battery powered lawn maintenance equipment will result in the gardener realizing substantial savings in the first year of operation, based on the cost of purchasing gasoline, oil, spark plugs, and air filters as opposed to the much lower cost of charging with electricity,” Cacciotti said. “I hope a lot of people come out and support our city’s effort in going electric with the use of leaf blowers and not breathing particles, contaminants, vapors and gases.”
For additional information about programs, events, and resources, go to: SouthPasadenaCA.gov/LeafBlowers or visit [email protected] or call (626) (626) 403-7240.