Fairfax nears ban on gas-powered landscaping equipment

Fairfax is poised to ban gas-powered landscaping equipment for residents and workers.

The Town Council voted 5-0 on Wednesday to approve an ordinance that prohibits the use of lawn mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers and other tools that run on gas. The council also established a rebate program to help residents and landscapers with the transition to all-electric or battery-operated devices.

The ordinance is set for a second reading at a council meeting in July.

The ordinance will take effect in January for residents and in 2024 for professional landscapers. The council also approved a one-time, six-month financial hardship exemption for residents who apply.

“I do have a lot of concerns about the deadlines,” said Councilmember Barbara Coler, who suggested the extension. “I think this is quite expensive for a homeowner who has a lot of equipment, and I think we have work to do if we move forward on this ordinance tonight.”

The plan is a result of the town’s climate committee, which had identified the ban as a goal more than two years ago, said Jody Timms, chair of the committee.

Belvedere, Tiburon, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur and San Anselmo have all prohibited gas-powered leaf blowers — with some exceptions — and Sausalito is also drafting an ordinance.

Innovations in electric landscaping equipment have made them more viable replacements for gas-powered tools, which are noisier and produce hydrocarbons, a greenhouse gas, according to a town staff report.

The ordinance pairs with the town’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 100% from the 2005 baseline by 2030.

Sean Youra, an environmental official in Fairfax, said the state has passed Assembly Bill 1346, which outlaws the sale of gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed trimmers and chainsaws starting in January 2024. The state is expected to make $30 million in rebates available to help proprietors of landscaping businesses switch to electric yard tools as well.

The council’s approval includes a $10,000 allocation to support the town’s rebate program and another $27,000 to replace the town’s gas-powered tools.

The town has partnered with Fairfax Lumber and Hardware for the trade-in and rebate program. Marin Sanitary Service has agreed to supply the store with a dumpster where residents can toss their old gas-powered tools. The service will collect and recycle the equipment.

Residents who trade in equipment will get discounts ranging from up to $30 for an edger to $300 for a riding lawn mower. Professional landscapers are eligible for discounts ranging from $150 for an edger to $1,200 for a riding mower.

Resident Michael Mackintosh said he has riding mowers, push mowers, leaf blowers and chainsaws that are all gas-powered and used for fire safety on his property.

“This would be an extreme expense,” he said, noting that he preferred a phased approach that was originally proposed.

Councilmember Bruce Ackerman said gas-powered tools are a health and climate issue.

“I realize that it seems accelerated, but that’s the situation,” he said. “We need to accelerate quite a bit.”

Ackerman suggested that to improve on the idea of ​​equity he encourages residents to share their electric tools with neighbors.

Councilmember Renee Goddard said the Sustainable Fairfax group previously proposed the idea of ​​a community tool shed.

“These are all things that are attainable in a community like Fairfax,” she said. “I don’t want to underestimate the opportunities that we have.”

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