City looks for ways to increase compliance with gas-powered leaf blower ban

City looks for ways to increase compliance with gas-powered leaf blower ban

Palm Springs officials say enforcement of a 2019 ban on gas-powered leaf blowers has been hampered by multiple factors.

Hampered in its ability to enforce a two-year-old ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, the city is considering harsher penalties for non-compliance in addition to more incentives to help gardeners convert to electric machinery.

A report by city staff released ahead of a Sustainability Commission meeting details a variety of challenges faced by the city in enforcing the ban. Among them:

  • Limited code enforcement staffing resources;
  • Difficulty responding in time to catch gardeners in the act of using gas-powered blowers;
  • False alarms when people hear what they think is a leaf blower but is in fact a different piece of lawn equipment;
  • “Decoy” blowers that look electric but are actually using gas; and
  • An inability to recognize which landscape companies may be violating the rules due to the fact so few gardeners have business licenses

To date, city staff estimate compliance with the rules is roughly 50 percent. Even with incentives through a Sustainability Scholarship program that has seen the city partially or fully fund the purchase of more than 16 new electric blowers, the problem persist. The ban was adopted in July 2017 but not in effect until June 2019,

Aside from continuing to offer incentives for new equipment, proposals being presented during a commission meeting tonight at 5:30 PM include:

  • Creation of an inexpensive/streamlined “gardeners” license that requires all gardeners and landscapers display their license number on their vehicle;
  • Holding homeowners accountable for compliance in addition to gardeners;
  • An increase in fines for second and third offenses from $250 and $500 to $500 and $1000, respectively;
  • Aiding enforcement by engaging the Citizens on Patrol (if that program is revived), deputizing Sustainability staff, or hiring a part-time person just for leaf blower enforcement; and
  • Allowing gardeners to start earlier in the summer months so that they have less time in the extreme heat, which drains batteries faster

A proposed ordinance will be presented to the Commission during tonight’s meeting. If approved as is, new rules would require a vote of the entire City Council to go into effect.

The city at one time considered a ban on all leaf blowers, both gas and electric, but elected to focus only on gas blowers after public outcry from gardeners. Currently, Indian Wells is the only other city in the Coachella Valley with a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.


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BRIEFLY

HOST FAMILIES NEEDED: Baseball is back in Palm Springs this summer, and that means players need places to live. The Palm Springs Power will play more than 20 games starting June 11 during a 6-week season. Anyone interested in hosting a player is urged to contact manager Casey Dill at [email protected]

COVID CASES: Latest data show there were 13 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Palm Springs for the seven-day period ending Monday. While that represents six more cases than were reported the week before, the case numbers are still in decline. The city is averaging 8.6 weekly reported cases this month after averaging 11 weekly cases in April and 24.5 weekly cases in March. The latest samples of city wastewater also show evidence of a decrease in COVID in the city. Tests of the wastewater show about 156 cases of COVID-19 may exist in the community, which is down from the 205 cases estimated the previous week.

TODAY’S EVENTS

  • MAIN STREET: Main Street Palm Springs, the business association for Downtown and Uptown Palm Springs, holds its regular meeting at 8:30 AM via Zoom. Registration and a meeting agenda can be found here.
  • TAI CHI: The Mizell Center offers Chair Tai Chi at 9 AM. Registration is available here.
  • ONE-PS: The Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) Communications Committee Meeting starts at 12 PM. on Zoom. No information was available on joining the meeting when this edition of the Daily Briefing was sent.
  • MASTER GARDENERS: The Mizell Center presents “Get Out In The Garden”  at 2 PM via Zoom. The free presentation is designed to help new gardeners discover the joys and challenges of gardening in the desert. More information on the meeting is available here.
  • VILLAGE FEST: The Village Fest Board meets at 3:30 PM via Zoom. Information on that meeting can be found here.
  • RIBBON CUTTING: Roadrunner Print & Ship, 4741 E Palm Canyon Dr., holds a ribbon cutting at 4 PM with the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. Anyone is invited to attend.
  • TALK OF THE TOWN: ONE-PS offers its regular “Talk of the Town” event starting at 5:30 PM via Zoom here. The topic for this meeting is, “Exploring Health Care Resources in a Post-Pandemic Palm Springs.”
  • SUSTAINABILITY: The City’s Sustainability Commission meets at 5:30 PM. Information on joining that meeting via Zoom can be found here. Among items on the agenda is discussion of enhancements to the city’s leaf blower ordinance to aid enforcement of rules banning gas-powered leaf blowers.
  • BUSINESS RETENTION: The City’s Business Retention/Economic Development Task Force meet at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information on joining that meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here. Among the agenda items is discussion of parklets on city streets.
  • ARCHITECTUAL ADVISORY: The City’s Architectural Advisory Committee meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information on joining that meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here. Among items on the agenda is discussion of a proposed fuel station at the Walmart located at 5601 E Ramon Road.

ONGOING

  • VACCINES: Anyone 12 and older now qualifies for a COVID-19 vaccine in Riverside County. If you qualify, you can get one at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 North Avenida Caballeros, from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 8:30 AM until 7 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments are not required, and those age 12-17 need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. You can also find a list of community providers such as pharmacies here.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Want to know about city and other municipal events? Road construction in your neighborhood? Building activity? Have something to report? The following links should help:

City of Palm Springs calendar of events

Police reports | Submit a police report

Code compliance reports | Report a code violation

Current road projects and closures

Currently active development projects

ONE-PS calendar of meetings

Desert Water Agency calendar

Mizell Center calendar of events

FIND Food Bank mobile market schedule

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