Evanston’s Economic Development Committee has recommended that the city buy electric leaf blowers for landscapers to replace the gas-powered ones the city is seeking to ban.

Under the proposal, recommended by Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd), the city would modify its entrepreneurship grant program to make electric leaf blowers and their batteries an eligible expense for grants to local landscape companies.

A memo from city staff says a commercial-grade electric leaf blower costs about $1,500 and batteries to keep it running through a day would cost a similar amount.

The memo says that if 10 local landscape firms qualified for the program it would cost about $30,000 of the entrepreneurship grant program’s $50,000 budget for the year to assist with the transition.

It appears the program would be limited to one blower and set of batteries per business.

To qualify the businesses would have to have a physical location in Evanston and be registered or licensed with the city. Non-profit organizations would not be eligible.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) said “it’s really kind of a no brainer” to move forward with the program. He said it amounted to a “buy back program” for the undesirable gas leaf blowers.

Other committee members generally supported the idea as well, although Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said he’s like to see the offer be “needs based” so that “we don’t help businesses that are doing really well.”

The proposal now goes to the full City Council for its consideration.

A city ordinance adopted last fall calls for phasing out the use of gasoline- and propane-powered leaf blowers by the end of next year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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3 Comments

  1. What about providing electric leaf blowers for all Evanston residents too? Otherwise, the City of Evanston is penalizing those residents who do not hire, or possibly cannot afford, landscapers. Why should residents who hire landscapers be subsidized?

    How about provide rakes for everyone? That way, City of Evanston can address obesity at the same time.

    Rather than throwing money around to anyone who pouts about costs, why not cut our property taxes for a change? Those of us who choose to save money by raking our own lawns (rather than hire landscapers who’s businesses get extra subsidies from the City of Evanston) get penalized yet once again.

  2. Free electric leaf blowers for landscapers? Instead, why not License ALL professional Landscape companies and put them on a list of City of Evanston qualified vendors? And at the same time, provide them with the rules and regulations for them to follow… they should sign an agreement that they understand the rules!

    Violations will get them booted from the preferred vendor list after one (or two) warnings! Creating a new position of Leaf Blower enforcement (a party of one individual) is a waste of taxpayer monies… There is a whole cadre (10 or 12) parking ticket enforcement officers patrolling the City… They would do a great job and not have to squander our civic budget which as M.A. offered “subsidize” a commercial entity…

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

  3. This amounts to a subsidy for wealthy residents who can afford landscaping services. Let the landscapers pass this cost on to their wealthy clients instead of burdening all Evanston’s taxpayers with it.

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