Gary Horton | New Laws on Gardening Gear Benefit All of Us

Gary Horton
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I was a little surprised upon hearing such a roar and recoil over my innocuous “electric blowers and weed eaters” column two weeks ago… 

Writing an opinion column, I obviously expect to get comments, pro and con, about the concepts and ideas I share. Sometimes these columns we share together are overtly political in nature, picking a side for which others will plainly disagree. Hopefully, the nature of opinion pieces is to get our minds going… to consider new ideas and different ways of thinking.  

Yet, too often opinion pieces from any side are simply viewed as fodder for attack from our existing, unchallenged beliefs. The response to reading is simply to “attack the opponent.” Fair play, I suppose, but a bit of a mental roundabout coming to nothing.  “Attack anything not aligned with my existing belief system.” This happened again, over something as benign as improving leaf blowers… 

California is instituting a fade-out and ban of gasoline-powered blowers, lawn mowers and weed eaters beginning Jan 1, 2024. The point of Assembly Bill 1346 and the switch to electric power is that the accumulated pollution from all these small gardening engines is expansive, exceeding that of all passenger cars combined in California. These things really pollute the air we all share and breathe in common… regardless of your political affiliation. 

And, beyond the air pollution is the noise pollution. To a soul, everyone hates the whining and screaming of gas-powered blowers and weed eaters, disturbing the peace in their neighborhoods most mornings and weekends. On and on – you hear these darn things from half a block away. And check out your gardener, too. Likely, he or she has no ear, eye, or breathing protection. All this represents future loads on our medical system for sure, as lung and hearing problems develop over time. 

All this – all this pollution, rancid noise and the health risks, are all eliminated by California’s AB 1346 move to electric gardening machines. Wham, easy as 1-2-3! 

I can’t think of too many other legislative examples where one law solves so many problems simultaneously – and at relatively little or no cost. 

So, here’s what you get vs. what you pay: 

You get: Quiet mornings without disturbance from smoke or noise. No more blasting outside your windows or smoke choking you when you’re on your patio. And reduced societal medical claims from hearing and lung damage. 

You pay: Zero. No new taxes. This costs you nothing. Your gardener or landscape company will gradually trade old, broken, obsolete equipment for new, modern battery-electric-powered equipment. They don’t have to do it now and they don’t have to do it all at once. Everything phases in gradually, with plenty of notice in advance. 

Commercial electric equipment is coming on the market rapidly. Trade magazines are full of columns extolling electric’s advantages. No more dirty mixing gas with oil. No more smokiness surrounding workers. No more forever breaking small engines, slowing, or stopping crews. No more gas bills or spilled gas cans or even OSHA violations for incorrect types of cans or improper storage of oil. Everything with electric is cleaner, simpler and lasts far longer between services. Commercial landscapers already know electric is the future, without a doubt. Believe me, landscapers are embracing the advantages quickly.  

And, as electric usage increases quickly, manufacturers are already upping their games, focusing on product improvement and range of machines and applications. Prices will fall and, eventually, electric equipment will be cheaper to buy and use than gas. 

There’s not much to complain about in California’s new law. In some ways, it only formalizes and speeds what’s already happening all around us: Everything is going electric. Everything is going automated. Everything around you. You can’t stop progress. 

Look at our streets of Santa Clarita. What would have been impossible 10 years ago is a reality now. Teslas and other electrics are everywhere. They’re as ubiquitous as VW Beatles in the 1960s. If you don’t have an electric car now, for sure you will over the next 10 years. “Electric” is simply more efficient, lasts longer, with less service problems.  

And consider, why do your neighbors have the right to run blowers screaming in your ear all morning? Or to blow oily smoke over your entire neighborhood? Why was this intrusion ever acceptable? What a one-sided breach of our personal rights! Conservatives and Libertarians should be dancing in support of AB 1346. They gain new personal freedoms from excessive noise and intrusive pollution! New rights for everyone! 

Here, everyone should agree! For once, we should find undeniable common ground! For heaven’s sake, we’re talking about taking a public annoyance out of our lives and replacing it with efficiencies improving lives in so many ways. 

I don’t miss my old incandescent bulbs. They were hot, expensive to use, and a pain to change all the time. I don’t miss my typewriter, either. I don’t miss VHS tapes or going down to the video rental store. I don’t miss smoggy cars burning leaded gas.  

And I’m sure not going to miss smoggy, loud gardening equipment, when by 2024 through 2028, they gradually disappear and are replaced with the power of the future – electricity. I just wish it could have happened sooner. 

Adios and good riddance to stinky, loud motors! Are we really going to fight a partisan war over leaf blowers, when considering the enormous advantages of AB 1346 to society at large? 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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