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Ventura County Community One Of First In State To Permanently Shelve Gas Powered Leaf Blowers

Some of the new generation of electric landscaping tools purchased by the City of Ojai, as it dumps gas powered devices

Gas powered leaf blowers are important time and labor saving tools for landscaping and maintenance crews. But, they are also major sources of air and noise pollution. Now, one Ventura County community is taking a cutting edge approach to the pollution problem.

Using a $60,000 grant, Ojai has converted its all of its gas powered public works land maintenance equipment to zero emissions, electric equipment. It’s only the second city in the state to do this.

Ojai Mayor Johnny Johnston says like many communities, the city has wrangled with the leaf blower issue for years. They are important tools, but the noise and pollution are objectionable for many residents. The city has had a ban in place on their use in residential areas, but trying to enforcing it was an issue. Johnson says this new effort by the city to go green with the equipment sets an example for the community.

One of those on hand for the kickoff of the program is Democratic Assemblywoman Monique Limon of Santa Barbara. She says if other communities follow Ojai’s lead, it could make a huge difference in an issue which many people underestimate. Limon says running a gas powered blower creates as munch pollution as a vehicle equipped with emission control devices driving from Los Angeles to Denver.

One of the biggest boosters of this new effort is an Ojai City Councilman who was once a staunch gas leaf blower defender. Randy Haney is a landscape contractor, and he says advances in technology during the last few years convinced them electric equipment is now the way to go. He says the reduction in noise pollution of 40 to 70% is a huge extra incentive.

The maintenance team has only been using the new tools for a short time, but the early reviews from the people who actually use them is good.

Ojai officials say while they aren’t a big city, they are ambitious in being environmentally friendly. They say one of their next big projects is to work towards getting 100% of its electricity from renewable resources.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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