The Evanston City Council voted Monday night to postpone action on major revisions to the city’s leaf blower ordinance.
Instead, the council voted, on a motion from Ald. Devon Reid (8th), to extend the existing warm-weather ban on gasoline-powered leaf blowers to Oct. 15 from Sept. 30 and trim the hours they can be used in the fall and spring to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from the current 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The issue sparked extensive public comment during the meeting with advocates of banning all leaf blowers objecting to the noise blowers make and claiming a range of adverse environmental and health impacts from their use.
But opponents of a ban argued that the proposed ban on all types of leaf blowers most of the year ignored the technological advances that have made battery-powered electric blowers a quieter and more environmentally benign alternative to gasoline-powered models.
They also argued that it was hypocritical for the city to exempt itself and local school and park districts from the proposed ban.
Several representatives of local landscaping firms argued that imposing the ban at midyear was unfair to landscapers who have signed contracts with customers priced based on using existing equipment and that ultimately the ordinance would substantially increase prices for lawn care service in the city.
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said the proposed ordinance “tries to do too much too quickly” and noted that the city’s Environmental Board had recommended tabling it.
She suggested spending the summer developing a better proposal that would be brought back to the City Council for review at the Council’s second meeting in September.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) said the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan adopted 3.5 years ago called for phasing out gas powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers. “We need to get moving on that,” Nieuwsma said, but added that the ordinance the council was considering “leaves some things to be desired.”
It appears a new proposal to make more extensive changes to the ordinance will be back on the Council’s agenda in the fall. And City Manager Erika Storlie said that if the city is to buy new electric blowers for its own use, that will need to be included in the discussion of next year’s city budget.