A worker (L) grabs a leaf blower as his co-worker takes a drink of water, while doing landscape work, in Perris, Calif., on June 16, 2016. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
California’s latest effort to fight climate change by banning the sale of gas-powered garden equipment this year could hurt small landscape companies the most and cost homeowners more, according to landscape industry insiders.
The Golden State became the first in the nation to ban the small engines Jan. 1, hoping to reduce pollution by requiring residents and businesses to switch to battery-powered tools, but the ban is off to a slow start.
Under the new law, stores can continue to sell gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and other tools until they run out of stock, and people can continue to use them.
As a result, many landscapers and garden stores stocked up on the tools after the change was announced in 2021, so there’s plenty of supply still around, according to Elizabeth Burns, CEO of Zone 24 Landscaping, Inc., based in Torrance, California.
“Most of the lawnmower shops have giant containers loaded with this stuff,” Ms. Burns told The Epoch Times. “We all knew this was coming.”
The law also allows people to buy the banned equipment in another state and bring it back to use in California.
Ms. Burns’ company, which mainly serves high-end residences in the wealthy Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes Peninsula, has also started to buy battery-operated equipment to use when the other tools stop working.
The switch to less-powerful electric equipment will cost her customers more in the long run, as more manual labor will be needed to complete the work, she added.
“You take away the power and the machines, and that creates more labor—and labor is time, and time is money,” Ms. Burns said.
The new law will also cost small landscaping businesses more than others, according to Jay Martinez, owner of JVM Landscape Construction and director of legislation for the California Landscape Contractors Association.
Larger landscape contractors that make up to $100 million in sales each year will be able to weather the changes more than smaller entrepreneurs, who are predominately immigrants trying to navigate through society and do things the right way, he said.
“I think it starts to become a two-tiered phenomenon that will happen there,” Mr. Martinez told The Epoch Times.
Smaller businesses with 10 employees or so, will also be hit harder by having to buy new equipment, forcing them to raise rates, he added.
The California Air Resources Board, mostly made up of members appointed by the governor, approved the ban in 2021, prohibiting sales of 25-horsepower gas-powered engines made after Jan. 1.
The law will be implemented in two phases. The initial ban on lawn care equipment, except large pressure washers and generators, took effect this year.
In the second phase, sales of gas-powered large pressure washers and generators will be off-limits beginning Jan. 1, 2028.
Washington state legislators are considering passing a similar ban on small gas-powered tools but are taking it one step further by proposing to jail anyone using the equipment. If passed, the ban would begin in 2026.
Rep. Amy Walen, a representative in the Washington state Legislature, claims the equipment is noisy and contributes to climate change. Violators of the ban would face a maximum $10,000 fine or one year in jail.