New Bill Could Bring Cleaner Air to CA by 2024

First, some updates, as it’s been a while since our last post!

We haven’t been resting—quite the opposite. We’ve been hard at work to remove any roadblocks to passing an ordinance in Santa Cruz, and to ease the transition from gas to battery leaf blowers. This should help remove any reservations the city council may have about letting Santa Cruz join the dozens of other California cities that are enjoying the benefits of cleaner, quieter landscaping equipment in their neighborhoods, and help landscapers acquire the next generation of cleaner, safer, and more profitable tools.

Other cities continue to act on this. Oakland’s unanimous vote to ban gas-powered leaf blowers (plus string trimmers) came into effect in April, and Hayward and Alameda are considering their own ordinances. Santa Cruz residents like yourself have been sending a steady stream of letters in support of an ordinance to our city council—but they need to hear from more of us still, and writing them today to tell them your support for an ordinance is one of the most effective actions you can take. We’ve got an easy link to do so right here.

Thankfully, things are happening at the state level. A bill has been introduced in the Assembly to set a date by which sales of new “gas-powered small off-road engines” (which includes landscape equipment like leaf blowers) would be phased out. AB-1346 would require all new ones to be zero-emission (e.g. battery/electric) by 2024, though that date could be later if the state’s Air Resources Board (CARB) determines it’s not yet feasible.

Zero-emission tools may be kicking gas sooner than expected

Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), who introduced the bill with Assemblymember Lorena Gonzales, observed, “Today, operating the best-selling gas-powered commercial leaf blower for one hour emits air pollutants comparable to driving a 2017 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Denver… We must look beyond transportation if we are to achieve the emissions reductions needed to fight climate change and improve air quality and health in our communities.”

So this would solve the problem overnight, in Santa Cruz and across the state, right? Not so fast.

It would only restrict sales of new gas-powered equipment—existing ones would continue putting VOCs, fine particulates, hydrocarbons, carcinogens, carbon monoxide, etc. into our air and lungs for years after. So local ordinances would still be necessary to address the use of existing gas ones.

But passing this bill would be a great step. Besides restricting new sales, it would send the message that people continue to suffer the health and noise impacts of so many gas-powered machines in our neighborhoods even while effective and affordable alternatives are already widely available. And it would free up existing funds to go to rebates and incentives to help landscapers, residents, and others across the state upgrade to zero-emission equipment.

So if you’ve already asked our city council to support our proposed ordinance and you’ve got three minutes to make another positive impact, ask our local rep to support AB-1346, for the health and future of the Golden State’s families and communities.

Santa Cruz is represented by Assemblymember Mark Stone–you can contact him here. If you live outside his district, find a link to your assemblymember here.