Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced steps Friday to move city departments away from gas-powered leaf blowers in favor of electric blowers.
Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution in September, stating the council’s intent to phase out the use of gas blowers within city departments and contractors. Councilmembers cited noise, health and environmental concerns and other cities, like Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., that have already outlawed them.
The resolution also stated an intent to phase out the use of these gas-powered tools by businesses and residents by 2027 or later.
Seattle city departments own around 418 gas-powered blowers and about 70 electric, with most owned by Seattle Parks and Recreation. Seattle City Light, Seattle Center and Seattle Public Utilities also own gas-powered blowers.
Harrell’s directive calls on city departments to purchase only new electric blowers starting in July, assess the city’s charging ability, submit transition plans and create a roadmap to reduce the use of gas blowers by at least 50% by 2025, and completely by 2027.
The September resolution said the city would end the use of gas-powered leaf blowers by “January 2025 or later if necessary.”
Testing by the Parks Department has shown electric blowers have improved enough in recent years to handle dry conditions, including short tasks in dry paved areas. However, gas blowers are still more powerful and work longer, which is necessary during the fall when rain makes leaves heavier, according to the directive.
To have the same duration as a gas blower, electric models need between four and eight batteries, which cost around $400 each. There are no options to charge in-field, according to the directive, so the city will have to add charging stations throughout facilities.
“Many of these challenges can be addressed with time and improvements to technology,” the directive stated, adding that “a path exists to set the City of Seattle up as an example” on how to transition away from small equipment that uses fossil fuels.