Show Your Support for Ending Leaf Blower Use on June 11!

On June 11, our city council will finally consider what so many residents have been advocating for years—an end to the damaging, dangerous, unfettered use of leaf blowers in the City of Santa Cruz.

The road to here has been long and winding. We’ve swallowed delays, setbacks, and more delays.

But we’re finally having a hearing and a vote on a policy which, if passed, will greatly improve the air we breathe and the quality of life in Santa Cruz by phasing out (most of) the noise and emissions of gas-powered leaf blowers.

It’s not all we hoped for. It would not restrict or even discourage the use of other leaf blowers—battery blowers also take a toll on health and the environment, blowing away topsoil and dispersing harmful fine particulates into the air we breathe.

But gas-powered blowers do that and much more, sending myriad highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals from burned and unburned oil and fuel into the air, deeply taxing the health of residents and landscape workers and adding to smog and climate change at the same time. (A single half hour of leaf blower use emits hydrocarbons equal to driving a Ford F-150 pickup from northern Texas to Anchorage, Alaska.)

And anyone who lives in Santa Cruz knows how bad the noise is for basic sanity and quality of life.

These machines should have been sent out to pasture years ago. So we sincerely thank Councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson for sponsoring this ordinance and working on it with city staff.

And we encourage everyone to come to the city council meeting on Tuesday, June 11 to urge all council members to support this long overdue initiative.

We will also be asking the council to close a loophole in the proposed text.

The City asked for a temporary exemption for parks and schools over 10 acres because of what they say are challenges to maintaining large open spaces with current battery technology. But the exemption would apply to all properties over 10 acres, no matter how little open space they contain. So numerous properties across the city will still spread leaf blower noise and emissions to their neighbors. You may be one of those unlucky neighbors.

Worst of all, many of these properties are residential communities themselves. Several large HOAs and mobile home parks will be swept up in this exemption, denying hundreds of residents the full benefits of this ordinance, many of whom are elderly or low-income. This is not consistent with equity.

And with a patchwork of exempted properties across the city, enforcement of the entire ordinance will be even more confusing and difficult.

So please come to City Hall on June 11 at 1:30 p.m. to support this ordinance and the removal of the loophole exempting residential and commercial 10+ acre properties.

If you can come to the podium and say a few words about why this ordinance is important to you and your family, please do—as short as you want, but under two minutes. Or you can come and sit in the audience and show your support visually—we’re asking everyone to come and wear green to show our strength in numbers.

We will also be asking supporters to come to the second reading of the ordinance—and the vote—which will occur, tentatively, on June 25.

These two meetings are our shot at showing our city council how much residents want an end to the era of toxic, senseless leaf blower impacts on us and our families, and on every worker and every resident in Santa Cruz. We owe this to ourselves and our children.

June 11. Please join us at City Hall.

Link to Santa Cruz City Council meeting agenda and documents. The agenda item is #20 under General Business.

p.s. For those of you outside of the city but within Santa Cruz County, we’re told that Supervisor Koenig is moving forward with a parallel ordinance. We’ll share details when we have them.