Gary Horton | New gardening equipment laws benefit us all

I was a bit surprised to hear such a roar and recoil on my innocuous “electric leaf blowers and weed eaters” column two weeks ago…

When writing an opinion column, I obviously expect to receive comments, pros and cons, on the concepts and ideas that I share. Sometimes these columns we share together are overtly political in nature, picking a side that others will clearly disagree with. Hopefully, the nature of opinion pieces is to move our minds…to consider new ideas and different ways of thinking.

Yet too often, opinion pieces from either side are simply seen as fodder for attacks on our existing, unchallenged beliefs. The answer to the reading is simply “to attack the opponent”. Fair play, I guess, but a bit of a mental detour that comes to nothing. “Attack anything that is not aligned with my existing belief system.” It happened again, for something as benign as improving leaf blowers…

California is instituting a fade and ban on gas-powered blowers, lawn mowers and weed killers effective January 1, 2024. The purpose of Assembly Bill 1346 and the switch to electric is that accumulated pollution by all these little garden engines is expansive, surpassing that of all California passenger cars combined. These things really pollute the air we all share and breathe in common…regardless of your political affiliation.

And, beyond air pollution, there is noise pollution. To a soul, everyone hates the moans and squeals of gas blowers and weed eaters, disturbing the peace in their neighborhood most mornings and weekends. On and on – you hear the damn things half a block away. And consult your gardener too. Probably, he or she has no ear, eye or breathing protection. All of this certainly places future burdens on our medical system, as lung and hearing problems develop over time.

All of that – all of that pollution, the rancid noise, and the health hazards, are all eliminated by California’s AB 1346 switch to electric garden 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 for what you pay:

You get: Quiet mornings undisturbed by smoke or noise. No more blasting outside your windows or choking smoke when you’re on your patio. And reduces the company’s medical claims for hearing and lung damage.

You pay: Zero. No new taxes. It costs you nothing. Your gardener or landscaper will gradually trade in old, broken, and obsolete equipment for new, modern battery-powered electrical equipment. They don’t have to do it now and they don’t have to do it all at once. Everything is happening gradually, with a lot of advance notice.

Commercial electrical equipment is rapidly coming to market. Trade magazines are full of columns extolling the benefits of electricity. No more dirty gas mixing with oil. No more smoke around the workers. No more breaking small engines forever, slowing down or stopping crews. No more gas bills or spilled gas cans or even OSHA violations for incorrect can types or improper oil storage. Anything electric is cleaner, simpler and lasts much longer between services. Commercial landscapers already know that electricity is the future, without a doubt. Believe me, landscapers quickly take advantage of this.

And, as the use of electricity increases rapidly, manufacturers are already upping their game, focusing on improving products and the range of machines and applications. Prices will fall and eventually electrical equipment will be cheaper to buy and run than gas.

There is not much to complain about in the new California law. In some ways, this just formalizes and accelerates what is already happening all around us: everything is going electric. Everything is automated. All around you. You can’t stop progress.

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

And think, why are your neighbors allowed to have fans screaming in your ear all morning? Or blowing oily smoke all over your neighborhood? Why was this intrusion acceptable? What a unilateral violation of our personal rights! Conservatives and libertarians should dance in support of AB 1346. They are gaining new personal freedoms from excessive noise and intrusive pollution! New rights for all!

Here, everyone should agree! For once, we should find undeniable common ground! For heaven’s sake, we’re talking about removing a public annoyance from our lives and replacing it with efficiencies that improve 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 regret the cars in the smog burning leaded gasoline.

And I’m sure there will be no shortage of smoggy and noisy gardening equipment, when by 2024 to 2028 they will gradually disappear and be replaced by the power of the future – electricity. I just wish it had happened sooner.

Goodbye and good riddance to loud and stinky engines! Are we really going to wage a partisan war against leaf blowers, given the enormous benefits of AB 1346 to society as a whole?

“Full speed to port!” by Gary Horton has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The views expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the views of The Signal or its editorial board.

Terri S. Tomasini