Leaf blowers, begone.
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a resolution stating the council’s intent to phase out the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers by city departments and contractors by 2025 and by businesses and residents by 2027, “or later, if necessary.”
The resolution asks city departments to develop plans to meet those goals and to design a public-education strategy for the transition. The council hasn’t calculated how much the transition could cost the departments that use gas-powered leaf blowers.
The new policy would require city workers, as well as Seattle businesses and residents, to make do with electric leaf blowers, rakes and brooms when tidying leaves, lawns clippings, dust and litter.
The resolution asks city departments to conduct a racial equity analysis, gather input from landscaping companies, and consider financial incentives for such companies and low-income residents.
Councilmember Alex Pedersen sponsored the resolution, citing noise, health and environmental concerns. Gas-powered leaf blowers provide cleanup muscle but Seattle must eliminate “the harmful sounds, the toxic fumes, the filthy debris” generated by what Pedersen called “terrible machines,” he said.
“As we make the city government lead by example, there will be plenty of time for the private market to follow,” whether by using other tools “or just letting the leaves decompose naturally,” he said.
Seattle city departments own 418 gas-powered blowers and about 70 electric leaf blowers. Testing by the Parks Department in 2019 showed that electric blowers had improved enough to handle dry conditions.
Other cities, including Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have outlawed gas-powered leaf blowers. L.A.’s ban has been sparsely enforced. D.C.’s ban is succeeding, a representative told the Seattle council last month.