PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- California is aiming to phase out gas-powered engines both on and off the road - that includes the landscaping industry. Starting next year, the state will no longer allow the sale of new gas-powered landscaping equipment.
Manuel Hernandez is one of thousands of small business owners impacted by this growing shift toward zero-emissions landscaping. He recently bought two battery-powered leaf blowers and plans to eventually buy a full set of electric equipment.
Hernandez says that's the future -- and he's right. The state of California plans to phase out all gas-powered "off-road" or landscaping equipment by 2035. It starts with one big change in 2024.
"What's happening on January 1 is California has a requirement to sell zero-emission lawn and garden equipment," said John Swanton, air pollution specialist, California air resources board. "That's opposed to gas-powered equipment....they're allowed to sell inventory that's in stock."
People can continue using their gas-powered equipment. Some local municipalities like the city of Pasadena are going a step further. This year, it banned the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
"There have been some challenges. Landscapers have had to change the way they operate and have had to replace their equipment," said Mariela Escos, senior code enforcement officer, Pasadena.
The state and Pasadena leaders highlight the environmental impact.
"The use of a gas-powered leaf blower for just one hour creates the same gas emissions as a vehicle driven for 1,100 miles," said Escos.
There is also the noise pollution. Electric options are quieter. The California air resources board showed us a side-by-side comparison. Still, the financial cost can be a burden to small business owners.
Hernandez says he's talked with many colleagues who say they don't make enough and clients are not willing to pay more. So, they would rather pay the fines in Pasadena.
There is equipment available through an incentives program. The "Core" program is available to small businesses. It's a state program that issued $400 vouchers per leaf blower - but that money just ran out.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District has other rebate and discount options for commercial landscapers and residents. But the cost is just one challenge; it's also an adjustment to new equipment, including the need to recharge batteries.
The city of Pasadena says it has prioritized outreach and education over citations. Meanwhile, the California Air Resources Board says its $30 million Core program was successful in helping small business make the transition to zero-emissions equipment. The agency is exploring options for more incentives and working with legislators on possible additional funding.