Updates on Rollins dorm, leaf-blower ban and Live Local Act
Angst over electric leaf blowers doesn’t stop ban set to start in July
Jan. 11, 2024
By Beth Kassab
Despite reservations over the logistics of enforcing a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, the City Commission passed a rebate on electric version of the devices as the prohibition is set to take effect this summer.
The $50 rebate available to residents in the form of a credit on their utility bills is intended to help ease the transition.
But commissioners expressed concerns over how landscape companies would make the move.
Vice Mayor Sheila DeCiccio said she’s heard from landscapers who note they work from early in the morning until the evening with few breaks.
“They want to know about battery use,” she said. “What is the cost of the battery if they can’t recharge?”
Gloria Eby, director of natural resources and sustainability, said the city is working to prepare resources on cost comparisons and battery life.
“It becomes an upfront cost … with industry, you can’t discount that fuel has its cost,” she said. “When you do a comparison on fuel to upfront battery, then the investment is 10 months to a year, and you’ve paid off that battery cost.”
Mayor Phil Anderson noted that the ban was first enacted in 2022, but the city pushed the pause button on enforcement for 30 months until July of 2024 to give people time to prepare.
“We were really intentional about saying this was intended to allow people to make transition over a 30-month period,” he said. “I’m not sure how effective that wait period has been? … As a realist my guess is most people have not done this conversion and most contractors have not done this conversion.”
He urged city staff to take a lighter approach to enforcement with perhaps warnings and education before launching into fines.
City Manager Randy Knight said the intention is to educate residents and companies before any fines are issued.
“We don’t plan to drive around looking for violators, but we know we will get calls from people and will dispatch people immediately,” he said.
At the same meeting, Commissioners approved the plans for a new 300-bed dormitory on the Rollins College campus and observed a moment of silence for Rita Bornstein, a beloved former president of the college, who died last week.
Commissioners also approved an ordinance to help block abuse of the state’s Live Local Act when it comes to new projects billed as affordable housing.