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By Shawn Raymundo
The use of gas-powered leaf blowers will be banned in San Clemente beginning in November 2022, as the city council on Tuesday, Sept. 7, unanimously approved the introduction of an ordinance to prohibit the devices.
The ordinance, which the council is slated to formally pass at its next meeting in late September, will also impose new regulations on electric- and battery-powered leaf blowers, such as limiting noise and restricting operating hours.
According to the ordinance, the citywide ban on gas-operated leaf blowers will go into effect on Nov. 4, 2022. Only electric-powered and battery-operated devices that meet the maximum 65-decibel sound rating standards set by the American National Standards Institute can be used.
Under the ordinance, the landscaping tool may only be used Mondays through Fridays, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on weekends and city-recognized holidays, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The ordinance also bans leaf-blower operators from blowing dirt, dust and other debris onto neighboring property, the street, sidewalk, gutters or into storm drains.
The latest step in passing the ordinance comes more than a year and half since the council first agreed to consider a partial ban on the fuel-operated devices. Under a pilot program that Councilmember Laura Ferguson had proposed in February 2020, the city would have restricted the use of the leaf blowers only in neighborhoods west of the 5 Freeway and for one year.
That proposal was nixed last month in favor of the permanent citywide ban.
In the coming months, the city is expected to also consider establishing a rebate program as an incentive for residents to ditch their gas-powered leaf blowers and purchase a new electric- or battery-powered one.
The city noted in its report to the council that the coffers to operate such a program could come from the general fund or from a grant “if there is one available.” As a local example, the city explained that in San Mateo, it allocated $5,000 for a one-year rebate program.
“Under their program, residents can receive a 50% discount, up to $100; if proof is provided that a gas leaf blower was turned-in and a new electric leaf blower was purchased at a certain retail store,” the city said in its report.
There would also be additional costs associated with running the program, the city noted, such as staff resources, drafting an application, advertising, making arrangements with retailers and processing the rebates with finance staff.
Chris Wright, an associate planner for the city, told the council on Tuesday night that it will get a presentation on San Clemente’s proposed rebate program when it meets to discuss the city’s long-term financial plan.
The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 28, at which time the elected officials are expected to formally pass the new ordinance in a second reading.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.