ENCINITAS — Encinitas has joined a growing list of California cities, including Solana Beach and Del Mar, that have imposed restrictions on the use of leaf blowers.
City Council gave final approval to ban gas-powered leaf blowers at its meeting last month. The council had previously discussed the ordinance at a meeting in June. Only electric or battery-powered leaf blowers, which are quieter and more environmentally friendly, are allowed now, and only at certain times.
The council voted 4-0 to approve the ordinance, with Councilwoman Kellie Hinze absent. Two changes were made to the ordinance before they voted on it. The first was to reduce the originally proposed hours of use by two hours, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Monday through Saturday. The second was to go back to allowing homeowners to use electric-power leaf blowers on Sundays, from the hours of noon to 5 p.m. In June the council had agreed to eliminate Sundays from the days residents would be allowed to use leaf blowers. No one is allowed to use a leaf blower on federal holidays.
Councilman Tony Kranz said he was having second thoughts about supporting the Sunday ban after getting an email from a resident who implored the ban.
“While I don’t use a blower, I do mow my lawn and I am notorious for frittering away the day on Saturday and not doing the lawn mowing like I should,” Kranz said at the meeting. “And so if this were a situation where somebody didn’t have Saturday available to do their blowing and they couldn’t do it on Sunday, like this email described, I think it would be kind of unfortunate.”
The ordinance will decrease levels of noise, dust and allergens. And it will benefit the city by helping it achieve the goals set in its climate action plan. The council adopted an updated version of the plan last year, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 128 metric tons by 2020 and 142 metric tons by 2030.
According to the ordinance, first-time violators will get off with a warning. Second-time offenders could be looking at a $100 fine. A third offense would cost $200 and after that the fine increases to $1,000.
Now that it’s been approved, the ban will go into effect gradually over a period of months, starting with restrictions on city owned property, followed by the commercial sector and then residents.
Several residents showed their support for the ban of gas-powered leaf blowers by writing letters to the council ahead of the meeting. Dadla Ponizil, a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, wrote, in part, “thank you and let us know if we can help in the transition. We purchased an electric blower in the hopes of loaning it to gardeners in the neighborhood.”
At the meeting, the council members said they had also been looking into developing trade-in or rebate program opportunities through collaboration with local and regional partners, but decided they needed help from the county to explore that further and would be bringing the item back at a future meeting.