Sonoma bans gas leaf blowers

On a split vote, the Sonoma City Council took a controversial stand against gas-powered leaf blowers Monday night and approved the first reading of an ordinance that will ban all leaf blowers powered by internal combustion engines, as well as the use of gas or diesel-powered generators to run electric leaf blowers. Electric-powered leaf blowers, per se, were not affected.

In an additional clause, the council decreed that no leaf blower “shall be operated in a manner that directs dust and debris onto any neighboring parcel.”

The 3-to-2 vote in favor of banning gas blowers followed more than an hour of public comment and council debate, during which 24 people stepped to the podium, almost half opposed to the ban. Thirteen people expressed support for it, although one of them, Karen Barto, described a personal negotiation she had with her landscaping company after which “they switched to a rake and we were fine.”

Landscapers who testified, unanimously opposed the ordinance, claiming it would drive up costs and necessitate an expensive investment in electric-powered blowers.

Craig Martin, a Sonoma landscaper with “a two-man business – myself and my son,” warned the council that conversion to electric blowers would cost more than $2,000.

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