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Mayor Brown switches vote, kills leaf blower ban

Sonoma Mayor Ken Brown, who on Sunday was honored by an Amistad (Friendship) Award for service to the Hispanic community, had an about-face epiphany, a throng of landscapers and yard workers had an impromptu celebration, and the Sonoma City Council watched a 3-to-2 majority in favor of banning gas-powered leaf blowers, shrink to a 2-to-3 minority.

On Monday night, the second reading of an ordinance creating a gas-powered leaf blower ban ran into Brown’s epiphany and the ban was defeated.

With that, the expected resolution of what Sonoma citizen Darryl Ponicsan has described as a “clear and present nuisance” that generates “raucous, nerve-wracking noise, ” was transformed into a victory for professional landscapers and gardeners who protested the ban would put their livelihoods at risk.

Brown, who spoke candidly after the meeting, explained that, “There is a grace period between the first and second reading of the ordinance. I had time to reflect … And I definitely feel that winning the Amistad Award was a part of it.”

On Oct. 7, the council voted 3-to-2 to approve the first reading of an ordinance banning all leaf blowers powered by internal combustion engines, but allowing for continued use of electric leaf blowers.

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