Home News Dallas’ plan to ban gas mowers is poor local government

Dallas’ plan to ban gas mowers is poor local government

Dallas’ plan to ban gas mowers is poor local government
Yard Worker / Last week, a yard worker cleared leaves from the street in front of an East Dallas home. While some homeowners prefer electric lawn equipment, commercial operations prefer the efficiency of gas-powered two-cycle engines. (Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

Yes, leaf blowers are inconvenient, but homeowners and business owners have rights as well.

By Dallas Morning News Editorial

It’s tempting to dismiss Dallas’ proposal to outlaw gas-powered lawn equipment as the work of a progressive group of city staff and council members looking to “California our Texas.” After all, two of the case studies presented at the council briefing last month came from California and Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, listening to a leaf blower blasting for 30 seconds can change one’s mind.

Dallas’ difficult task is to find a way to promote pleasant, peaceful neighbourhoods without burdening property owners or businesses. Few people like leaf blowers, but even fewer want the government to tell us how to cut our lawn.

The current proposal, which is subject to change before the council adopts any formal policy, is to phase out all gas-powered lawn equipment over the next several years, with a complete ban in place by 2030. We can support this rule for city crews and contractors, but prohibiting this equipment for homeowners and private contractors is excessive.

First and foremost, it takes away a basic freedom — the ability to care for one’s property as one sees fit. Yes, property rights are regulated for the common good, particularly when they endanger the safety or health of other citizens. However, as inconvenient as they are, leaf blowers cause no direct harm.

Climate change and air quality will be used as justifications for the ban, but there was no evidence of this in the council presentation last month. There was some information about emissions. According to city staff, a large leaf blower used three hours per day will emit 9.61 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

But does charging a leaf blower on a grid powered by methane-belching plants in West Texas really reduce emissions? Or with the power left on in a landscaper’s truck so he can charge up for the next job?

Proponents of the ban will argue that it is an issue of environmental justice because, according to the staff report, “most lawn crews are unprotected and work full time at the source of emissions and noise. “A significant proportion of landscape workers are Hispanic.”

Do you know anyone else who is Hispanic? Many landscaping business owners are struggling to stay in business and provide jobs in the face of rising inflation.

The city’s environmental justice message is loaded with a condescending big-brother-knows-best tone. Actual landscapers will tell you that their tools are their livelihood, and you should not mess with them.

Meanwhile, the market for many homeowners who cut their own grass is already shifting towards electric tools. The Texas Nursery and Landscape Association proposes a market-driven solution with incentives for electric purchases.

We believe there is a reasonable path forward here that transitions city crews and contractors, incentivizes private citizens, and respects homeowner rights while acknowledging that City Hall does not need to impose its expensive will on small business owners.

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