City fights pollution on many fronts

SOLANA BEACH — Solana Beach landscapers, stop your engines — or at least the internal combustion two-stroke ones in your leaf blowers. City Council unanimously banned the gas-powered devices at its June 24 meeting as a means to reduce hydrocarbon emissions, noise pollution and the amount of debris entering storm drains.
The amendment will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2011, giving residents, landscapers and gardeners time to replace gas leaf blowers with electric ones. Until then, adopted changes to the municipal code restrict their use to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with only noncommercial residential use allowed on Sundays.
To further reduce noise levels, all mufflers and full-extension tubes must be installed when using the blowers.
The California Air Resources Board calculated that hydrocarbon emissions from 30 minutes of leaf blower operation equal about 7,700 miles of driving at 30 mph. According to the staff report, the two-stroke gas engines waste about 30 percent of their fuel by boosting it out through the exhaust and into the air. The remaining fuel is burned inefficiently, reaching emission levels that would preclude a car from passing a smog inspection.
For health and safety reasons, and to protect water resources, council members also amended the storm water section of the municipal code by expanding the definition of pollutant to specify leaves, grass clippings and yard waste as organic contaminants. Limiting the use of leaf blowers could prevent these materials from entering the storm drain system, where they can break down in the pipes and “provide optimal conditions for bacteria re-growth,” the staff report states.
To avoid city involvement in a private dispute between neighbors, the city will initiate an investigation only after receiving complaints from two people living at two different residences.

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