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Don Rocha Proposes Leaf Blower Ban

Leaf blowers emit high levels of pollution and blow particulates into the air we breathe. Photo: The Press Democrat

San Jose City Council member Donald Rocha is asking his colleagues to allow city staff to investigate a potential ban on gasoline-powered leaf blowers in the city, due to the high levels of pollution they emit. The Rules and Open Government Committee (Rules), a five-member subcommittee of the City Council, decided on September 20 to advance review of the ban to the full City Council on October 17.

“The two-stroke internal combustion engines used in leaf blowers are spectacular polluters… their emissions are much dirtier than car engines,” states Rocha in a September 14 memo. “As automobile engines have become progressively cleaner, leaf blowers have remained very dirty and are still used every day in our neighborhoods.”

California Assembly member Ash Kalra proposed the same blower ban back when he was a San Jose City Council member in December 2013, but it was killed in the Rules committee at that time. The Rules committee has a completely different set of five members today.

District 9 resident Marty Stuczynski has since then been persistently lobbying San Jose’s city council members one by one to reconsider a city-wide ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, as neighboring Los Gatos, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto have already done.

“Leaf blowers are also noisy, as we all know,” continues Rocha’s memo, “in combination with the serious environmental concerns it makes a very strong case for exploring leaf blower regulation.”

In a bid to small landscaping businesses that currently use the noxious gas-powered blowers, Rocha proposes that electric leaf blowers be allowed as a replacement for gasoline-powered leaf blowers, for “significant lead time” before a ban on gas blowers comes into effect, and for government agencies to provide monetary assistance for equipment replacement.