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Seattle City Council committee moves forward with gas-powered leaf blower ban

The resolution would phase out gas-powered leaf blowers in the city by 2025, then issue a complete ban by 2027.

SEATTLE — A Seattle City Council committee voted to move forward with what could eventually serve as a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers Friday.

The Sustainability and Renter's Rights Committee voted unanimously to approve the resolution. The law would phase out gas-powered leaf blowers in the city by 2025, then impose a complete ban by 2027.

"This is an environmental and public health issue we're trying to address," said sponsor Councilmember Alex Pedersen. "Gasoline fueled leaf blowers are harmful to the environment, they're harmful to our health and that includes the workers operating the equipment and it includes the neighbors who are suffering through the nuisance of the debris and the noise of these leaf blowers."

Proponents of the ban said the leaf blowers can cause environmental and health issues, such as noise and air pollution. One concern raised was that while electric blowers have advanced significantly, they may still be slower with wet leaves, causing more work time.

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales addressed the additional equity concerns about health impacts at the Friday meeting. 

"Whether we're talking about small businesses or even our own city park department employees it is predominantly Black and brown people using this equipment," Morales said.

The resolution urged the City to offer incentives for gas-powered leaf blower owners like buy-back programs and rebates. The full council is expected to vote on the issue in September.

When asked why this is something for council to address, Councilmember Pedersen said there are many issues of importance to tackle, and he believes there is also bandwidth for this one.

"We've heard from hundreds of residents who'd like to just have an outright ban of gas powered leaf blowers," Pedersen said. "We'd be taking a phased-in approach but we'd want to do it expeditiously."

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