Palisadians Protest Illegal Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers

By SUE PASCOE

Editor
Pacific Palisades resident Jennifer Orme-Erwin has been waging a campaign in the Marquez area to rid the neighborhood of gas-powered leaf blowers.

“We have many kids in the Palisades with allergies and asthma, who would love it if you could print something!” she wrote in an email to the News. And she asked all Palisades homeowners to “Please remind your gardener to use a rake or electric blower so we can enjoy walks and take in the fresh ocean air.”

Gas-powered leaf blowers are illegal in Los Angeles. The ordinance (LAMC 112.04) went into effect on February 13, 1998: “No gas-powered blower shall be used within 500 feet of a residence at any time. Both the user of such a blower as well as the individual who contracted for the services of the user if any, shall be subject to the requirements of and penalty provisions for this ordinance.”

Santa Monica Canyon resident and activist Joan Graves led the fight for passage of the ordinance, with key help from Jack Allen, Pepper Edmiston, Bob Locker and Diane Wolfberg (who won a Golden Sparkplug Award for developing the Zero Air Pollution website).

The campaign to pass an ordinance was focused on the amount of pollution produced by gas-powered blowers, which sweep particulate matter into the air composed of dust, fecal matter, pesticides, fungi, chemicals, fertilizers, spores and street dirt (which can include lead and carbon). Those with asthma or allergies are particularly susceptible to the air pollution caused by gas blowers. Visit: zapla.org<http://zapla.org>.

The News emailed Pacific Palisades Community Council at-large representative George Wolfberg about the difficulty of enforcing the ordinance, given the scarcity of LAPD patrol cars in the Palisades.

He responded that he recently spoke to West Area Captain Tina Nieto about enforcement. “She said to report illegal leaf blowers by calling (877) ASK-LAPD. I did and they came out and confronted the most egregious offender in my neighborhood.”

Wolfberg added, “Police will enforce per the ACE (Administrative Citation Enforcement) ordinance.” A citation (like a $100 parking ticket) can be issued to the operator and to whomever employed the person.

The Washington Post, in a September 2013 article about gas-powered leaf blowers (which use two-stroke engines), called them an environmental hazard, and explained the technical problem.

The engine lacks an independent lubrication system, so fuel is mixed with oil and about 30 percent of the fuel does not undergo combustion. Air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides and hydrocarbons escape.

“In leaf blowers, two-stroke engines have been shown to emit contaminants comparable to large automobiles,” according to the Post. “A 2011 test by the car experts at Edmunds showed that ‘a consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.’

“The company subjected a truck, a sedan, a four-stroke and a two-stroke leaf blower to automotive emissions tests and found that under normal usage conditions—alternating the blower between high power and idle, for example—the two-stroke engine emitted nearly 299 times the hydrocarbons of the pickup truck and 93 times the hydrocarbons of the sedan. The blower emitted many times as much carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides as well.”

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