The City of Davis announced today that to mitigate negative health effects of airborne particulate matter and other air pollutants during periods of poor air quality, the City may declare an emergency for the health and safety of citizens and place temporary restrictions on the use of leaf blowers. This restriction will only be in effect when air quality is poor. The City Council had previously considered an urgency ordinance banning leaf blowers at two previous meetings, but ultimately concluded that temporary restrictions could be determined by the City Manager under local emergency regulations. There is the potential based on the forecasted Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast that the City could declare such an emergency this weekend.
The restrictions on the use of leaf blowers would apply to gas and electric blowers on public and private property within the City of Davis. Conditions that would result in restrictions of the use of leaf blowers include local AQI values exceeding 100 (unhealthy for sensitive groups), presence of wildfire ash and future air quality forecasts. Once implemented, the restrictions will remain in place until lifted by the City.
The City will inform the community prior to a restriction being placed on the use of leaf blowers. Messages will be released via the Everbridge Alert system, and a notice will be posted on the City’s webpage (www.cityofdavis.org) stating if the temporary restriction on leaf blowers is in effect. The City is also developing a webpage with information about air quality impacts. Information on the potential for restricted use of leaf blowers will also be included in City utility bills for October and distributed to area landscape companies. To sign up for Everbridge Alerts under the Yolo Alert system, visit: https://www.cityofdavis.org/
city-hall/emergency- information/emergency- notification-systems
Even with recent improvements in air quality, California is still in the height of fire season. Any new wildfires could cause poor air quality to return.
“The City Council has directed the City Manager and Public Works Utilities and Operations director to take action during periods of extremely poor air quality to protect the community from further impacts that can be caused by the use of leaf blowers,” said Mayor Gloria Partida. “This action allows for timely response from the City to air quality emergencies.”
The guidance from the Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District (YSAQMD) is to not use any leaf blowers when ash accumulates on the ground due to the toxicity of wildfire ash. The YSAQMD cannot regulate the use of leaf blowers, but looks to cities to adopt regulations. During the latest series of days with poor air quality related to the fires in Northern California in August, City landscape maintenance staff and public works operations staff stopped using leaf blowers per this guidance.
The City Council also directed staff to research possible updates to the current leaf blower regulations or a permanent ordinance related to the use of leaf blowers. City staff will be working in collaboration with the Natural Resources Commission, other applicable City commissions, and stakeholders to undertake a review of the City’s leaf blower regulations and consider any necessary modifications or additions that would come back to the Council next year.
“Many cities have more robust ordinances than ours related to the use of leaf blowers,” said Mayor Gloria Partida. “We look forward to this issue coming back to Council to discuss what a permanent ordinance, outside of health emergencies, could entail.”