The Big Update–Progress to Celebrate

2024—and this blog—are finally bringing some good news on the long campaign to end the excessive impacts of gas-powered leaf blowers on the people of Santa Cruz and the workers asked to operate them.

We expect an ordinance finally phasing out the use of gas-powered leaf blowers to come before the City Council in the Spring! And we are optimistic that it will pass—but we aren’t counting those chickens yet.

What’s more, Santa Cruz County officials are working in tandem on a parallel ordinance for the County.

You all have been spreading the word and sent many letters to council members pleading for an end to the use of these archaic devices in our neighborhoods for years. We have been urging consideration of this for several years now, and also urged its inclusion in the City’s Climate Action Plan, which the Council approved in 2022. (The CAP calls for the gradual phase out of all gas-powered landscape equipment and other small gas engines.)

Our meetings with city council members finally gained traction last year, and we want to recognize the leadership of Councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson in moving this policy forward and coordinating the efforts. The proposal now resides in the Health in All Policies Committee (consisting of Councilmembers Kalantari-Johnson, Watkins, and Brunner), which will work with staff on developing the ordinance and conducting outreach to landscapers and residents.

C.H.A.S.E. has already been conducting outreach to landscapers for many months, including around the current, major rebates available to help landscapers transition to battery tools. The city has been too, and will continue to, on the rebates as well as the developing policy. Sessions are being planned in the coming months to engage with the public and hear community feedback. We expect to see the ordinance in front of the council in the Spring, and if the ordinance passes, there would be several more months before implementation, and more time still before enforcement would begin.

Passage is not guaranteed, but with continued pressure we’re hoping that the noise and pollution of gas-powered blowers will finally be gone from our streets, parks, and neighborhoods by the following Spring!

Future Action Items

To that end, there are things that you can do to help this get over the finish line and to help friends and family in the rest of the County enjoy clean and healthy air again, too. Here are the key ones:

  • Support the ordinance as it comes before the council this Spring by sending letters to council members and coming to the meeting—details to come.
  • Encourage people you know who live in the County to support the ordinance when it comes up before the Board of Supervisors—date T.B.D., but a resolution calling for the ordinance is expected to be introduced at their meeting on February 13. This link will allow you to email the Supervisors; or find your Supervisor here. We want to recognize Supervisor Koenig for spearheading this effort at the County!
  • Encourage people you know in Scotts Valley, Capitola, and Watsonville to write to their city councilmembers A.S.A.P.
green park

Thank you all for everything you’ve done to help get us this far. With a little more effort in the next few months, we will all be breathing easier in the years to come.