One dedicated agency is now in charge of enforcing a ban on the use of leaf blowers in Santa Monica.

As of Thursday, Oct. 28, enforcement of Santa Monica’s recently updated motorized leaf blower restrictions will be taken over by the city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE).

Under the law, no person is allowed to operate any motorized leaf blower within the city limits. A leaf blower is defined as any motorized tool (gas, electric, battery powered) used to propel fallen leaves, grass clippings and debris for removal. Violations may be punishable by substantial fines to property owners, property management companies, landscape companies and/or individual operators.

Originally banned in the early 1990s, motorized leaf blower restrictions were difficult and costly to enforce due to the requirement that the violation be directly observed by a sworn police officer, city officials said. In an effort to improve enforcement, the City Council adopted changes to the law to allow OSE staff to issue administrative citations to leaf blower operators, landscaping companies, property owners and/or property managers.

Bilingual inspectors with the office will initially focus on public education about the ordinance and the alternatives to using leaf blowers for removing debris from landscapes, according to the office.

“Beyond the noise and the annoyance, leaf blowers pose multiple health risks to the community and the operator,” said Dean Kubani, director of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. “These devices are so inefficient they emit more pollution than a car and blow a mix of fine particles into the air we breathe. Our education-driven enforcement plan should make Santa Monica a little healthier as well as quieter.”

Some of the concerns expressed regarding the use of leaf blowers include air pollution and noise effects.

Among the suggested alternatives to leaf blowers are push brooms, rakes, and manual leaf sweeping machines, according to the office.

In reporting violations, residents are asked to provide an address, date and time of the violation. Enforcement staff will follow up with reported violations in addition to being out in the community educating gardeners and property owners.

Information, www.sustainablesm.org/leafblower/.

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