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San Jose Leaf Blower Ban Nixed

Photo: Brian Glucroft

The San Jose City Council’s latest Priority Setting Session on Tuesday October 17 was another dead-end for advocates of a ban on gasoline-powered leaf blowers, as the council voted to move ahead with six other initiatives. City Council member Donald Rocha had introduced the gas blower ban in a September 14 memo.

Members of the public were adamant that gas blowers have to go, and cheered after each speaker urged the council to ban the noxious noise and air pollution gas blowers in San Jose.

“Today is a day for The People,” said resident Tessa Woodmansee. “Today is to remind our representatives that the role of government is to protect us from harm. Today is the day to choose a ban a highly-polluting gas-powered leaf blowers.”

“The two-cycle motors that power these leaf blowers are highly air polluting. Two-cycle road vehicles were so polluting that they’ve been banned from our road since the 1970s,” said resident Marty Stuczynski, whose online petition to ban blowers in San Jose has today received 1,100 signatures.

“The California Air Resources Board estimates that two-cycle engines emit 500 times the hydrocarbons, 26 times the carbon monoxides, 49 times the particulates of a cleaner-burning four-cycle auto engine. The California Air Resources Board estimates that by 2020, gasoline-powered lawn tools will be polluting more than automobiles in California.”

“That’s an astounding statistic,” commented Stuczynski.

“These two-stroke engines spew a cocktail of dangerous pollutants,” said resident Amanda. “Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, and benzene, asphyxiants, carcinogens, that cause severe heart and brain damage, anemia, headaches, confusion, dizzyness, chest pain, rapid breathing, irregular heart rhythm, and death.”

“I urge you to ban gas powered leaf blowers because they affect people like me who have asthma,” said seventh-grader Anica Knolls. “We have trouble breathing when there’s pollution in the air… Another reason to ban them is because of  the noise pollution.”

But Rocha’s proposed leaf blower ban was only one of 22 new items from which the council was instructed to select just six to add to a list of ten previously-approved projects that would receive city staff allocation of time. The leaf blower ban didn’t make the cut, scoring 3 points, about average for the 22 items.

The six highest scoring proposals that will receive further work by city staff and consultants are the Safe Parking Program, Smoke-Free Housing, Private Property Graffiti Abatement Ordinance, Develop Innovation Strategies to Hire Crossing Guards, Downtown Zoning Code Update, Impact Fee Deferred Payment Program for Housing.

California State Assembly member Ash Kalra pitched a similar gas-powered leaf blower ban in 2013 when he was a San Jose City Council member. That proposal was also rejected during the Priority Setting Session process.