May 20 2019 06:59 AM

Landscape contractors say law could negatively affect business.

The city of Palm Springs, California, will soon be enforcing a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers. The policy has been over two years in the making and will be enforced beginning June 1. Landscapers, particularly Spanish-speaking ones, say that they were not a part of the decision and are concerned how this will impact business, according to an article by the Desert Sun.

Ahead of the enforcement deadline, bilingual notices were posted on the city’s website and social media channels. City officials also used Spanish-speaking radio to get the word out and held a March event demonstrating electric lawn equipment. More than 200 landscapers attended, learning about electric-powered models and an exchange program run by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

But to some landscapers, the Spanish outreach was too late. Angel Roman, a landscaper who has worked in the Palm Springs area for nearly 25 years, says the city should have gotten more input from landscapers. He says the ban makes it hard for landscape workers to make a living. Roman says that while he has a battery-powered blower, it doesn’t compare to his gas-powered one.

According to the article, some critics said a lack of diversity among city leaders has led to policy changes that don’t fully consider the impacts on minority residents or businesses. Currently, none of the City Council members or members of the sustainability commission are Latino.

City Manager David Ready defended the policy, saying officials worked hard to engage as many landscapers as possible to seek their input. Though he did acknowledge that it’s a challenge to reach all stakeholders on decisions like this.

Ahead of the June 1 deadline for enforcement, Ready says the city will first issue warnings before issuing citations to landscape companies found to be violating the ban. The ban will be enforced on a complaint-by-complaint basis.

Nick Logan, vice president of Logan Landscape Inc., based in Thermal, California, says it seemed like the city was committed to making the decision early on. He says he’s concerned for clients who are on fixed incomes and is unsure whether they can afford a 20% to 30% increase in maintenance fees per month because of landscapers have to use electric blowers.