Localities across the U.S. continue to fight the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, with the outcome often being anger and confusion. We found cases of U.S. cities recently advancing bans on the use or sale of gas-powered blowers, another considering a moratorium on a ban, plus one city whose leaders stopped – for now – such a ban.
Illinois City Slow Walks Ban
In Evanston, Ill., members of the city’s Human Services Committee recently voted to recommend that the city council create a three-week moratorium on enforcing the ban this spring. The committee said this would give city staff time to develop a more extensive grant program or another solution to address the concerns of local landscapers. The city originally voted to enact the ban in 2021.
Dozens of owners of small landscaping companies protested Evanston’s ban on gas-powered leaf blowers at a recent Human Services Committee meeting. Some said the battery-powered equipment isn’t powerful enough for their work. Others cited the cost burdens of converting to battery-powered tools. The city has offered grants capped at $3,000 to aid landscapers in making the switch to the new technology.
Florida City Slows Ban Enactment
In Winter Park, Fla., near Orlando, landscaping professionals recently addressed Winter Park leaders during a special council meeting. Many expressed anger over the city’s ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, which does not go into effect until July 2024.
The city passed the ordinance in 2022 to reduce noise in neighborhoods and reduce air pollution. In 2022, the city approved a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers by July 2024. The city sent out a survey to landscapers which reportedly showed that 95% were against the measure.
At a meeting on Thursday. Feb. 1, city commissioners decided to give residents an extra six months to comply without issuing penalties. The ban goes into effect July 1, but no fines will be issued until January 1 of 2025.
The City sent out this info (edited) in a Press Release in January:
“Gas-powered leaf blowers are known for their noise and significant environmental impact, emitting harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. These pollutants contribute to air quality degradation and pose health risks to both residents and the environment. In addition, because yard debris is a high pollution source for our lakes, Ordinance #3230-22 also requires that debris blown into the public rights of way (streets) must be removed within 30 minutes. This reduces the amount of nutrients polluting the waterways on a continual basis. As part of the approval in 2022, the City Commission offered a 30-month window to allow for city residents to notify their landscape companies of this ban and to replace their gas-powered blower(s) with electric alternatives.
In July 2024, the 30-month window expires and gas-powered leaf blowers will be prohibited within Winter Park city limits. To assist in the transition from gas-powered to electric, the City Commission approved a $50 rebate for all households in Winter Park that would be applied as a credit to the resident’s utility bill. Between now and Wednesday, January 1, 2025, residents can apply for the electric leaf blower rebate at cityofwinterpark.org/rebates. One unit per household.”
Mayor in New Jersey Vetoes Ban
At its meeting on Jan. 17, the West Orange, New Jersey, Township Council voted 3-2 in favor of a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers. The council’s plan was to start out with a partial ban and move to a full ban by Jan. 1, 2026. Beginning this year, landscapers would have been forbidden to use gas blowers in West Orange from Jan. 1 to March 1, and again from May 1 to Oct. 1.
Landscapers would have to register with the township and pay an annual registration fee. Electric-powered leaf blowers would still be allowed. Users would not be fined upon first violation. The penalty for second violations is $100, and $200 for future offenses.
West Orange Mayor Susan McCartney vetoed the entire ordinance shortly after it was approved. “I am hereby vetoing the entirety of the ordinance because of the current state of the technology and the substantial burden it will place disproportionately on various people including but not limited to seniors, and the business community directly impacted by the proposed ordinance,” the mayor wrote in a letter to residents.
Calif. City Bans Use of Gas, Loans out Electric
While California banned the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers by 2024, the Lafayette, Calif. City council voted to ban their use beginning July 1, 2025.
According to the city, gas-powered leaf blowers cause pollution and high noise levels, and they’re harmful to users and bystanders. Citing the city’s Environmental Action Plan, the council’s ordinance states that Lafayette is “deeply concerned” about climate change and other environmental hazards and this ban will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Lafayette residents who don’t have access to electric leaf blowers can borrow one. The city’s lending program offers two types of battery-operated leaf blowers, one hand-held and one commercial grade backpack blower.