Walters: California’s gas lawn equipment ban hits the little guys

Once again the Sacramento Democrats have made it more difficult and expensive to live and work in California.

“That said, what’s practical for personal use is not necessarily so for lawn care professionals, most of them single persons or small crews, and often immigrants. It’s estimated that California has at least 50,000 such microbusinesses.

Mowing a lawn once a week is one thing, but pros do it a dozen or more times a day to keep their families housed and fed. They would have to not only buy the equipment but dozens of batteries and chargers and have the facilities, including sufficient electric power supplies, to recharge those batteries.

Backers of the legislation, a coalition of public health and environmental groups, would let the Air Resources Board figure out the details. There’s the possibility of a $30 million fund to help buy new equipment.

Where does that $30 million come from?  Government can not give away money to the public that it did no first take from the public.  All of this is not about the environment, it is about greed and theft.

California’s gas lawn equipment ban hits the little guys

by Dan Walters, CalMatters,  10/18/21 

In summary

A new California law to eliminate gasoline-powered lawn equipment sounds reasonable, but it messes with the lives of small landscapers.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature on Assembly Bill 1346 makes one wonder whether California politicians ever fully understand — or even want to understand — the ramifications of their decisions.

The measure aims to eliminate the sales of gasoline-powered lawn equipment, such as mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers and other devices, within a few years.

The purpose, it’s said, is to eliminate the exhaust emissions from small engines that create smog and contribute to global warming.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Berman, a Menlo Park Democrat, contends that “operating the best-selling, gas-powered commercial leaf blower for one hour emits air pollutants comparable to driving a 2017 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Denver. Smog-forming emissions from small engines will surpass those from passenger vehicles this year.”

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One could add that the gas-powered lawn machines also emit jarring levels of noise.

Under AB 1346, the California Air Resources Board will decide how and when sales of gas-powered devices will be prohibited and it could be as early as 2024. A shift to battery-powered machines presumably would occur as older devices need replacement.

Tools powered by rechargeable batteries are convenient, quiet and relatively inexpensive to operate and make perfect sense for the homeowner. Personally, I’ve used them almost exclusively for the past quarter century and wouldn’t have it any other way.

That said, what’s practical for personal use is not necessarily so for lawn care professionals, most of them single persons or small crews, and often immigrants. It’s estimated that California has at least 50,000 such microbusinesses.

Mowing a lawn once a week is one thing, but pros do it a dozen or more times a day to keep their families housed and fed. They would have to not only buy the equipment but dozens of batteries and chargers and have the facilities, including sufficient electric power supplies, to recharge those batteries.

Backers of the legislation, a coalition of public health and environmental groups, would let the Air Resources Board figure out the details. There’s the possibility of a $30 million fund to help buy new equipment.

The arithmetic, however, indicates that the proposed conversion would cost much more than that, either borne by the lawn services or taxpayers.

Andrew Bray, vice president of the National Association of Landscape Professionals, told the Los Angeles Times that “a three-person landscaping crew will need to carry 30 to 40 fully charged batteries to power its equipment during a full day’s work,” adding, “These companies are going to have to completely retrofit their entire workshops to be able to handle this massive change in voltage so they’re going to be charged every day.”

The larger landscape companies that Bray represents could make the switch and adjust their fees accordingly. But how about the little guys?

A basic array of high-quality, battery-powered lawn tools — a mower, a trimmer and a blower — would cost at least $1,000. Enough spare batteries and chargers would at least double the initial cost. So at a minimum, with 50,000 lawn services, the total cost would be $100 million. The real world cost would likely be a quarter-billion dollars or more.

Even were the state willing to cover replacements, how about the infrastructure that small landscapers, operating out of their homes, would need to recharge their batteries? Would we be putting them through a daunting application process? Would the many undocumented landscapers submit the paperwork?

Newsom and the legislators who voted for this bill may think they are doing the right thing, but did they ever consider that they are messing with people’s livelihoods and lives? Nothing in the bill indicates they did.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Electricity and batteries may be in the future, but they are not fully here yet. Reality has escaped the minds of our Democratic leaders. Progress is being made in many fields but pushing too fast only leads to negative consequences for many thousands that cannot meet the new requirements yet. They must be included in the planning.

  2. Not so fast. California has a million motorcycles with modified exhaust and with smog equipment removed or bypassed. No inspections and no enforcement. How does that compare with the emissions of lawn equipment? It’s just easier politically to ban gas lawn equipment than motorcycles. Make smog stations inspect motorcycles for noise and emissions just like cars!

  3. Bogiewheel says

    The yard cleaners in my neighborhood all use battery leaf blowers and electric tree pruners. I guess they saw this coming.

  4. Cigarette lighters were going to be next but all the Republican’s quit smoking. Rats!!

  5. A more fundamental question for the forum. Has anyone, anyone at all -ever seen a lawn mower, electric large enough to perform the maintenance on 10’s of thousands of square foot lots? Or better yet, How about the 10 acre park (27 acres total) of lawns across the street from my house?? This is yet another idiotic politician, drafting legislation without the first clue of what he/she is doing. But I have to say this — THE PEOPLE voted for said idiot and therefore must suffer the consequence(s) of their vote.

  6. The California Air Resources Board just (this May) assisted in causing the elimination all independent owner operated trucks from the Ports of Los Angeles and San Diego. These trucks used to haul 75% of all goods from said Ports. So now we have a stack-up of over 100 ships, with 50 more on the way.

    This followed the elimination of most all off-road equipment and trucks owned by contractors and independent owner operators, causing the demise of tens of thousands of jobs. All of this to supposedly reduce deaths caused by the Phantom Menace called PM2.5, yet they cannot point to even one such death. No mention of the PM caused by California forest fires but I am assured they have them on the drawing board for elimination also. They just need to find the “guilty employer” for such jobs resulting from the fires.

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