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Leaf Blower Policy Updates – We want your feedback!

Leaf blower

Background

City staff is working on updating the City’s policy on leaf blowers. Local community members have advocated for additional regulations on the use and operability of leaf blowers in the City of San Rafael. Some are concerned about the noise and would like to see leaf blower use restricted to specific business hours. Others have requested a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers due to the negative effects on the environment.

The City Council is committed to reducing emissions as outlined in the 2030 Climate Change Action Plan. Before bringing anything forward for adoption we’d like to get as much feedback as possible to minimize unintended consequences. We please ask that you review the proposed policy changes below and provide us with any feedback you may have.

The proposed timeline reflects the City's recognition that local businesses have a financial cost to transition their equipment to comply with a ban on the operation of gas-powered leaf blowers. The City aims to pursue a responsible policy to reduce unintended consequences.

Please provide comments by June 1st, 2022.

Staff process to date

City staff has taken an attentive approach before drafting the following recommendations. Staff took the following steps:

  1. Researched leaf blower policies and best practices from other Marin and Bay Area jurisdictions.
  2.  Surveyed registered landscaping and gardening businesses through email.  
  3.  Met with jurisdictions that recently passed similar policies to discuss best practices.
  4. Contacted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to learn about rebate programs.
  5. Worked with Public Works and the Sustainability department to craft policy.

City staff's proposed policy changes on leaf blower operation

Starting January 2023:

1.  New hours of operation

Effective on and after January 1, 2023, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate or authorize the operation of any and all leaf blowers within city limits except during the following hours:

Property typeMonday to FridayWeekends and City Holidays
Residential8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Non-residential7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

Code § 8.13.040 will continue to govern noise levels, (90) dBA beyond the property plane of the property on which the equipment is being used or the activity is occurring.

Reasoning:  Limit the noise caused by leaf blowers to business hours to mitigate noise concerns.

2.  Addition of a debris clause

All leaves, dirt, or any other debris blown by the use of a leaf blower onto public property or in the public right-of-way must be cleaned up and removed immediately.

Reasoning:  To reduce the amount of debris going into streets, sidewalks, and storm drains.

Starting January 2024:

1. Ban on the operation of gas-powered leaf blowers

Effective on and after January 1, 2024, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate or authorize the operation of any gas-powered leaf blower within the city limits.

Reasoning : To reduce the emissions emitted by gas-powered leaf blowers and its adverse environmental impacts. 

The proposed timeline reflects the City's recognition that local businesses have a financial cost to transition their equipment to comply with a ban on the operation of gas-powered leaf blowers. The City aims to pursue a responsible policy to reduce any unintended consequences.

Want more detailed information? Review the draft staff report and draft ordinance.

Do you have any feedback or comments?

Please let us know if you have any feedback using the form below. Thank you for your time.

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