In the 14 months since Redondo Beach enacted a ban on leaf blowers, the city has received more than 1,700 complaints and issued just three citations.
Councilman Todd Loewenstein, who said he frequently spots gardeners using leaf blowers despite the ban, was not pleased.
“I don’t understand three citations over a 14 month period," Loewenstein said. "We aren’t being aggressive enough in terms of letting peple know it’s against the law. We have no problem ticketing people for street sweeping."
The numbers were provided by Community Development Director Brandy Forbes in a report to the City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Ever since Redondo Beach enacted a leaf blower ban in August 2018, the question has lingered whether the city had the ability to enforce the prohibition on a widely used piece of gardening equipment. Neighboring cities of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach have had bans in effect for years.
On Tuesday, the Redondo Beach City Council received its answer when it learned that out of more than 1,375 leaf blower complaints to city code enforcement just two citations were issued. Police issued one citation out of 339 complaints. Numerous courtesy notices were also issued.
The law created a tiered system of enforcement initial warning followed by a series of fines — $100, $200 and then $500 — for each subsequent violation. After that, violators would receive a misdemeanor.
At the time it was passed, city officials warned the council it would be challenging for code enforcement officers to enforce the law given the myriad of other infractions they are looking for. On Tuesday, Oct. 15, Forbes reiterated this concern.
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“There are all these additional items they have to address," Forbes said. "Otherwise the other quality of life issues wouldn’t be addressed."
Forbes said identified 81 properties where leaf blowers are frequently used, what they call a "repeat offender list." Out of those, code enforcement has contacted 50 gardeners. Roughly 15 complaints were determined to be leaf vacuums, which are legal, rather than blowers.
At Tuesday's meeting the City Council gave clear direction to city staff that the grace period for issuing warnings was over.
"It was a new law, but I think the grace period is over," said Mayor Bill Brand. "A big part of enforcement is our irresponsibility to call them in or anytime you see someone with a leaf blower you go out and tell them it’s illegal. Three citations is a joke over that period of time. I think the grace period is over. There is no need to write any courtesy notices."