The City of Lafayette, citing common knowledge accepted by many for some time, is considering adding its name to the list of Bay Area cities and towns banning the use of gasoline powered leaf blowers within city limits.
Ordinance No. 688 – “Prohibiting the Use of Gasoline Powered Leaf Blowers” – has been scheduled for discussion by the City Council at its Sept. 26 meeting.
City staff recommends the council introduce the ordinance, hear public comments, waive the first reading, and continue the matter to October 10, 2023 for second reading and adoption.
If adopted, 688 will prohibit the use of gasoline powered leaf blowers within the City of Lafayette effective July 1, 2024. City staff, residents, and commercial landscape businesses will be prohibited from using gas powered leaf blowers except in emergency cases as authorized by the City.
By putting the ordinance in play, city officials say they seek to reduce community exposure to high levels of noise, hazardous exhaust, and evaporative emissions the machines are known to produce. Through implementation, city officials said they hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure compliance with AB 1346 – which prohibits the sale of gasoline powered small off-road engines (SORES) beginning January 1, 2024.
The City’s Environmental Task Force developed Ordinance No. 688 at the direction of the City Council and recommends its adoption.
Putting their money where their mouth is city officials said their staff and contractors will also be required to abide by the new law. Both the Public Works Department and Parks, Trails, and Recreation Department have added battery powered leaf blowers to their inventory. Public Works has five “rarely used” gas powered leaf blowers in its inventory and they are being phased out, according to city staff.
Despite what many believe to be an immediately beneficial impact to such a ban, Lafayette does expect resistance to its ordinance and plans to launch an educational campaign prior to any enforcement effort.
City officials admit enforcement will be “challenging” as landscape crews move from site to site and the duration of use for leaf blowers is generally not long. City staff anticipates a sharp rise in the number and frequency of complaints if the ordinance is implemented as expected. Complaints may be filed using the city’s existing online request form through GoGov. When a complaint is received, Code Enforcement staff will follow a standardized procedure designed to ensure compliance.
If No. 688 passes, Lafayette will become the latest of hundreds of cities and counties that have enacted laws restricting leaf blowers and other landscape equipment nationwide. More than 40 California cities have already enacted such laws, including Carmel (1975) as well as the Bay Area municipalities of Belvedere (1987), Piedmont (1990), Los Altos and Berkeley (both 1991).
Other Bay Area cities with restrictions on gas leaf blowers include Mill Valley, Tiburon, Los Gatos, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Portola Valley, Alameda, Palo Alto, Novato, and Menlo Park.