First published in the Nov. 12 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
On a bright Saturday morning at Garfield Park, Michael Cacciotti harbored one key question about the electric leaf blower being showcased.
“Does it do hair?”
To answer Cacciotti, demonstrator Rodrigo Portapila unleashed a stream of air from the leaf blower — free of exhaust and nearly silent — and engulfed the South Pasadena mayor pro tem’s hair. It was just one of many electric-powered lawn care tools on display at Saturday’s “No Gas South Pas” event, which also featured a community bike ride with state Sen. Anthony Portantino. The event comes in the wake of an ordinance that will ban gas-powered lawn equipment in South Pasadena starting next October.
“It just shows a testament to the leadership of the City Council … and the community that embraced sustainability and the effort to green the city,” Portantino said.
The ordinance has the health of gardeners in mind alongside the comfort of residents, the council argued when it approved the measure. Electric leaf blowers, for example, produce no emissions, have lower maintenance costs and can be as much as 70% quieter than gas-powered leaf blowers with two-stroke engines, experts say.
Suntek Zero Emission Lawn Care showcased commercial options for gardening and landscaping businesses at Saturday’s event, and Ace Hardware also offered options for residents. Active San Gabriel Valley was on hand with e-bikes, joining other environmentally friendly groups such as South Pasadena Beautiful and the South Pasadena Community Garden to promote a greener lifestyle.
“It’s an industry that’s been operating in the same way for more than 100 years,” Portapila, a representative for Suntek, said. “And, you know, the change needs to come. The disruption needs to happen and [the city has] been very open for the change. …”
Residents and professional gardeners alike sampled electric equipment, and were given a demonstration of a leaf blower, a push mower and a rider mower, each quietly powered by battery without compromising performance.
The rider mower drew particular interest as it was pitted against an Active SGV e-bike in a race, nearly keeping pace with speed and sound similar to that of a golf cart.
Jose Delgado, who works for Delgado Garden Services, was pleased with the quality of the electric equipment and thinks it could save his business money with the rising cost of gasoline.
“Only the problem is that I need to take it for the weekend or maybe two weekends and I don’t know about the battery,” Delgado said. “I need a lot of uses every day, so I need to check on the life of the battery for working every day. But, for me, it’s better because it is saving gas money.”
Batteries can last up to seven years for residential use and each individual battery lasts about an hour, blade-to-grass. Commercial gardeners have roughly a year to find the best option for their business and take advantage of an incentive program set forth by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Saturday’s event showed that electric-powered equipment has support from residents and professional gardeners alike. To cap off the event, nearly 50 cyclists lined up outside Garfield Park to end the morning with a clean-air activity.
Portantino and Cacciotti rode their bikes along with residents and city employees — with the breeze again styling Cacciotti’s coiffure.