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A tidy yard may soon cost a lot more

Banning leaf blowers would dramatically increase the cost of lawn care service in Evanston.

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Banning leaf blowers would dramatically increase the cost of lawn care service in Evanston.

That was the message Monday night from Ben Klitzkie of Nature’s Perspective Landscaping, who said leaf blower restrictions under consideration by the City Council would add 40% to 50% to the time required for landscaping jobs.

The city’s sustainability officer, Kumar Jensen, said, in a memo proposing the new set of restrictions, that he’d consulted with environmental advocates who view the leaf blowers as a major noise and environmental pollution source. But he made no mention of consulting with the landscapers who actually use the machines.

The city currently restricts the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers to between March 30 and May 15 in the spring and from Sept. 30 to the first Thursday in December in the fall. It limits their hours of operation to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

The proposed amendments would trim a month off the period each year when blowers could be used and shorten the permissible hours of operation each day.

It also expands the list of restricted devices to include propane and electric leaf blowers as well as gasoline powered ones.

At a recent Council meeting, several speakers said the new restrictions don’t go far enough and that blowing leaves should be banned entirely.

Many residents have complained that the existing restrictions are not enforced — because, by the time police respond to a complaint, the landscapers have moved on to another job so there’s no proof the violation occurred.

The proposed amendments attempt to address that by expanding the liability for leaf blower violations to include property owners as well as landscapers. But it is not clear how that change would lead to any greater likelihood that police would respond in time to witness evidence of a violation.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said the ordinance proposed by city staff is not ready or adoption. She noted that landscaping companies have signed contracts for this year premised on being able to use the equipment — but the ordinance, as drafted, would have the rule changes take effect immediately.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) said the city needs to slow this down and have conversations with the businesses that will be greatly impacted.

The Council voted to postpone further discussion of the ordinance until its June 14 meeting.

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