Editor’s Note: This is part-two of an article on pollution from lawn and gardening equipment in the area.
There’s little doubt that lawn and garden equipment is a prime source of air pollution in Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley. Yet, clean and quieter electric gardening tools are now widely available and more affordable than ever under a regional subsidy program.
By William J. Kelly
The South Coast Air Quality Management District has dedicated $4 million to help commercial gardeners purchase electric lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and other equipment, according to Nahal Mogharabi, agency communications director. “Financial incentives,” he said, are available to “local governments, school districts, non-profit organizations and commercial gardeners/landscapers within SCAQMD’s jurisdiction.”
Up to 75% discounts
The agency, Mogharabi explained, “provides up to 75 percent discounts off eligible zero-emission lawn and garden equipment, including handheld trimmers, chainsaws, pruners, backpacks and handheld blowers, and lawnmowers, including ride-on, stand-on and walk-behind mowers.” This means, for instance, that a city work crew that maintains parks can get a $25,000 electric “ride-on mower” for as little as $6,250. Just plug it in overnight and it’s ready to mow the immense lawn-covered areas of parks, golf courses, and athletic fields–no fuss, no muss, and no gasoline or oil to worry about.
South Pasadena’s gardening contractor, Land Care, uses quiet and pollution-free electric equipment to maintain the city’s parks, fields and local golf course in the Arroyo. The equipment has been used since 2016, according to the American Green Zone Alliance, to maintain 13 city properties that span 41 acres. Maintenance involves 20 acres of mowing, 15 acres of blowing hardscapes, an acre of hedge trimming, and over 7 miles of edging. The Alliance estimates the electric equipment eliminates 31 tons of pollution a year in South Pasadena, compared to using gasoline-powered equipment.
The Compton Unified School District is another public entity that uses electric equipment, according to Michael Cacciotti, who serves on SCAQMD’s Governing Board and is mayor pro tem in South Pasadena.
Then there’s the city of Ojai. Since 2018, it’s maintained 52 acres of public space with electric gardening equipment, including public building grounds, parks, an amphitheater, culverts, and along highways.
“We had a twenty-year debate over leaf blowers,” said Johnny Johnston, who was mayor when the city switched to electric equipment. He notes similar incentives offered by the Ventura Air Pollution Control District allowed Ojai “to successfully implement a program that is projected to reduce the amount of pollution just from the city by 82 tons in one year.”
For the do-it yourselfer, SCAQMD has a separate financial incentive program that provides people rebates of up to $250 for cordless electric lawnmowers.
Details on SCAQMD’s commercial electric lawn and gardening equipment incentives and home lawnmower rebates are available available here.
> Read part-one here.
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