Special commission meeting called on gas-powered leaf blower ban
The City Commission will meet on Thursday to discuss next steps
Jan. 30, 2024
By Beth Kassab
Mayor Phil Anderson has called a special meeting of the City Commission for Thursday at 9 a.m. to discuss how to handle a growing number of concerns about the ban on gas-powered leaf blowers that is set to take effect July 1.
The Commission passed the ordinance in 2022, but approved a 30-month delay in enforcement to give residents and landscape companies time to prepare.
But in recent weeks, landscape companies have said they did not know about the upcoming ban and expect the cost and other impacts of battery-powered equipment to be overly burdensome.
Anderson said a meeting he had last week at City Hall with representatives from landscape companies, equipment manufacturers and one company that is already using all-electric equipment was insightful.
“That meeting was really productive with some ideas shared,” he said. “So Thursday’s meeting is to sort of process that meeting and decide what we might want to do.”
He said he still expects the issue to be discussed at the next regular commission meeting on Feb. 14.
The ban was passed as an ordinance and any changes to it such as a delay in the start date or a full repeal would require specific public notice and two votes at two meetings.
Thursday’s meeting will allow the commissioners to have an open discussion to decide what changes, if any, they want to make.
Earlier this month, commissioners passed a $50 rebate in the form of a utility bill credit for residents who purchase electric leaf blowers.
But that does little to help the companies that serve thousands of lawns in Winter Park and use industrial level blowers that can cost $1,300.
In addition to concerns over the cost of the new equipment, landscapers have said the battery powered devices will slow down their work because they are less powerful, require charging and are heavier on workers’ backs.
“To comply with this law, more equipment on the trailer means more fuel costs to haul that equipment,” read one flyer that asks people to join in opposition to the ban. “This will result in higher costs to the homeowners and the landscaping companies purchasing and running generators to charge the blowers’ batteries.”
In Florida, Naples and Miami Beach have also approved bans. The Washington Post reported recently that cities across the country have put similar bans on gas leaf blowers into place such as Washington, D.C, and Evanston, Ill. California is set to begin enforcing a statewide ban on the sale of new gas-powered lawn equipment. Naples also enacted a ban.
Electric equipment is healthier for humans and the environment because there are fewer toxic emissions and comes without the jarring buzzsaw-like grind of a gas engine.