No Gas South Pas! That’s the theme centered around a major event slated for Saturday, November 6, in South Pasadena’s Garfield Park that will officially launch the city’s ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.
In a unanimous 5-0 vote last month, the City Council voted to prohibit their use, which takes effect October 1, 2022, while allowing independent gardeners and residents nearly a year to switch to battery-operated machinery without facing possible penalties.
As part of a robust outreach effort regarding the city’s action, a morning full of fun from 10 a.m. to noon is planned at the park, featuring games, food, music and an approximately 6-mile family bicycle ride through tree-lined South Pasadena neighborhoods.
In addition, Dan Mabe, the founder of the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA), will be on hand to showcase the latest in battery-operated lawn maintenance equipment. AGZA continues to urge cities across the country to go green, from gas-powered to battery-electric operated equipment.
South Pasadena is the first AGZA Green Zone city in the United States, earning certification to ensure that all grounds maintenance on municipal properties – mowing, hedging, edging, trimming, sawing, and blowing – are serviced with low-noise zero-emission machinery and manual hand tools.
Among the dignitaries at the “No Gas South Pas” event will be State Senator Anthony Portantino, who will be joined by members of the South Pasadena City Council. Portantino, according to the city’s mayor pro tem, Michael Cacciotti, was instrumental in passing AB1346, which at the state level will ban the sale of all new gas-powered small off-road engines by 2024. Signed by the governor on October 10, the engines are primarily found in outdoor power equipment and said to emit smog-forming pollutants at levels of those found in passenger vehicles.
“It’s really about human health,” said Cacciotti, who spearheaded the no gas-powered leaf blower movement in town. “We’re talking about lawn equipment that is one of the most overlooked sources of air pollution. People just don’t know how much they are endangering their lives. We have pollution coming from cars, trucks, oil refineries, and now right in our back yards with these leaf blowers emitting particulate matter and toxic chemicals. You use one of these for an hour and it’s like driving a gas-driven vehicle from here to Denver Colorado. That much pollution comes out of one hour using a gas-powered leaf blower.”
Cacciotti also serves as a board member for the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “We’re in the middle of a dramatic watershed moment of history by making big advancements in stopping pollution with clean, green energy,” he said. “We’re making big efforts so that people are not going to get sick, die of cancer or other cardiovascular diseases.”
The bicycle ride, getting underway at 11 a.m., will start and finish at the north side of Garfield Park, where participants will be able to check out E-bikes, E-blowers, and more. Given the name Tour de South Pasadena, the bike event will start at the corner of Stratford Avenue and Grevelia Street.
Independent gardeners, along with community members and visitors to the city, are invited to the November 6 event, Cacciotti encouraging those on hand to test the new technology. “It’s a great day for families to come out,” he said. “We want to educate everyone about improving their health by making good use of battery-operated lawn equipment, and also enjoy a bike ride.”
Free raffle tickets, entitling winners to receive some swag and other goodies, will be handed out to many at the outset of the day. Those who want to increase their chances of winning will be handed an extra raffle ticket after trying out an all electric leaf blower or electric assist bike, or by bringing their own e-bike to share.
What Bicyclists Should Bring:
- A functional bicycle or wheeled device (highly recommended with gears).
- Mask or face covering to wear at stops and when not able to social distance.
- Hand sanitizer.
- TAP card or money for fare if you plan to use the Metro bus or train.
- A helmet is required if under 18.
- Water Bottle (with water).
- Bikes with training wheels are not permitted, but children are welcome to attend if pulled in a trailer or on-bike child seat.
Strict protocols will be in place during the bike ride to ensure safety and comfort for all participants and instructors. The entire ride will be conducted outdoors to maximize physical distancing. Participants must confirm your attendance in advance of the ride to hold a spot. Attendees must sign-in and complete a waiver.
- If you are feeling sick or unwell, please stay home. There are many virtual class and self-guided ride options still available.
- Even if you are fully vaccinated, bring a mask or face covering to wear at ride stops and socially distance from others on the ride not in your household. If you are not yet fully vaccinated, you are still required to wear a mask or face covering outdoors when you cannot keep a safe distance while exercising (at least 8 feet).
- Staff and ride marshals reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who does not follow these protocols (e.g., arrives without prior registration, does not complete waiver, refuses to wear a mask).
The ordinance banning gas-powered leaf blowers was created to protect individuals from excessive levels of noise, in an effort to promote health, safety, and welfare through the elimination of gas-powered devices used to blow leaves, dirt, and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns, or other surfaces within the city limits.
“Unfortunately air quality in the San Gabriel Valley has been on the decline after years of steady improvements,” said Wesley Reutimann, the special programs director for ActiveSCG, which is organizing the bicycle ride portion of the event. “Pollution from small off road engines like gas leaf blowers are a growing and significant source of air pollution at the local level and statewide. Thankfully alternative, zero emission technology is now available and more affordable than ever, offering both residential and commercial users the opportunity to help clean our air by phasing out their old gas equipment. Local policies like that adopted by South Pasadena will accelerate awareness and adoption of clean air yard equipment in Los Angeles County and statewide, moving us a step closer to bluer skies and fresher air.”
For more information about the “No Gas South Pas” event, call (626) 403-7253. To sign-up for the bike ride go to: SoPasBikeTrain.eventbrite.com
Wesley Reutimann contributed to this article.