City of Napa Valley joins Sonoma to turn off gasoline leaf blowers ahead of California ban

California and some City of North Bay bans and incentives are aimed at eventually sending power tools such as leaf blowers and gasoline lawn mowers to pasture.

Last month, State Governor Gavin Newsom enacted Assembly Bill 1346, which will phase out the manufacture and sale of instrumental tools for landscapers by 2024. The law will not apply not to electric gardening equipment already in use.

But it’s just statewide.

When it comes to the noisiest electrical equipment, some Wine Country towns such as Sonoma and Yountville have beaten the state with bolder moves by banning the total use of gasoline leaf blowers within city limits.

In a controversial era among noise reduction-loving citizens and landscapers, Sonoma’s ban went into effect in December 2016. Since then, the order with a $ 250 fine for second offenses has become a no-problem, according to Sonoma planner Wendy Atkins.

“At first, everyone was mad about it,” she said, adding that the issue is barely mentioned now. “And not many people raped him.”

In Napa Valley, Yountville bans the use of gasoline-powered landscaping tools and offers credit to upgrade to electric versions. On July 1, the city instituted a ban with a penalty of $ 1,000 per incident.

The city has released a program to provide credits to users to switch to electricity to reduce the restriction.

A landscaping company with a valid operating license in the city may receive a refund with the purchase of an electric version. Anyone with one to three business accounts can receive $ 200 by showing proof of purchase after March 1 and one with four or more customers can receive $ 350.

“We are ahead of the state on this point. Because we banned them all, we thought the credit would soften the blow, ”said John Ferons, Yountville Public Works Manager.

Napa Valley Lawn & Garden Co. plans to take advantage of this incentive.

The 25-year-old landscaping company that serves around 240 clients in various Napa Valley towns is making strides away from gas blowers.

Landscape designer and manager Gianna Carrazco-Finch said her company has purchased an electric type that comes with a battery and hopes to add another for its four teams before the statewide law comes into effect.

“But they are very expensive,” she said.

They are so expensive, going as high as $ 1,700 per wind tunnel, that San Rafael landscaper Francisco Aranjo predicts that some companies in his industry will go bankrupt.

“Some won’t want to pay for it,” he said. “I am very angry.”

Aranjo suggested that electric leaf blowers are more dangerous, offering a propensity for electric shock when using the plugged-in version and in wet conditions.

“There are going to be a lot of accidents, maybe fatalities,” he said.

In business since 1994, the landscaper juggling 165 clients said new state law would place a heavy burden on completion as landscapers use the same blower from job to job throughout. of the day.

“The charges are taking too long,” he said.

But for all the arguments against change, others put forward by the government represent a larger picture of where the state is heading in terms of climate change action.

According to the California Air Resources Board, one hour of operating a gasoline-powered leaf blower emits the same amount of smog-forming pollutants as driving a light passenger car over 1,100 miles in 15 hours. This is the distance between Los Angeles and Denver. Running a gasoline lawn mower for one hour is like driving the same vehicle three hours from LA to Las Vegas.

Small all-terrain engines, called SORE, are spark-ignition engines rated at 19 kilowatts or less. (One horsepower equals nearly three-quarters of a kilowatt.) The 25 horsepower motors in this category are primarily used for lawns, gardens, and other small off-road equipment. All-terrain vehicles and motorcycles belong to a different category.

Over 15 million SORE power tools exist in California.

“These fuel engine rules are in line with the governor’s order of zero emissions,” said Christopher Dilbeck, CARB director in the testing and certification division.

Still, Dilbeck told the Business Journal that the new law is a phase-out, not an outright ban.

“People who have it can continue to use their equipment,” he said. “But the idea is to work towards a better, quieter and less dusty operation.”

The reason leaf blowers are so loud is because of their inherent operation, he insists, adding that they tend to run more efficiently at full throttle, causing rage to anyone within earshot.

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