The City Council’s Sustainability & Transportation Committee unanimously approved a pesticides ordinance last night following a public hearing. The Committee recommends the ordinance now go before the full City Council for a first-read on November 6 and a public hearing and vote on November 20.
“This is an important first step in reducing the use of pesticides in the City of Portland, which will help us safeguard the overall health of our citizens, our waterways, and our food systems,” said Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, Chair of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee. “This represents the culmination of two years of hard work. I appreciate Councilor Mavodones’ leadership on the task force and the work of Councilors Duson and Ray, and Mayor Strimling. I look forward to discussing this further with the full Council in the hopes of seeing this adopted.”
"I want to thank the Task Force and the Committee for the time they spent reviewing existing ordinances and current scientific information to make sure that we were proposing an ordinance that makes sense for Portland,” said Mayor Ethan Strimling. “As I indicated in my State of the City address back in January - and it's a stance I still firmly hold - we must enact a comprehensive, loophole-free synthetic pesticide ordinance that fully protects Portland’s families, children, pets, and wildlife."
Since June, the Sustainability and Transportation Committee has been reviewing the ordinance proposed by the Pesticide and Fertilizer Task Force as well as the ordinance adopted by the City of South Portland. During the course of their work they held two public hearings and a panel discussion in order to receive input from a variety of stakeholders including lawn care companies, an expert in organic land management, and concerned residents.
The purpose of the ordinance is to safeguard the health and welfare of residents and protect the City’s waterways and natural resources by prohibiting the use of synthetic pesticides except for certain limited circumstances. It would establish a Pesticide Management Oversight Committee (the PMAC) tasked the developing and distributing materials designed to educate residents, businesses, and retailers about the ordinance and landscaping practices that do not require pesticides.
The PMAC would also be responsible for creating an annual report to the Sustainability and Transportation Committee about their education and outreach efforts, an analysis of data collected from licensed applicators, and any use of City property. A subcommittee of this group would be responsible for responding to requests from individuals who believe they have a situation that requires the use of a prohibited pesticide and are requesting a waiver. Such waivers could only be granted in situations that are an emergency, that threaten public health, safety, and welfare, or to control invasive species that pose a threat to the environment.
Enacting this ordinance would align the City of Portland with other communities including South Portland, Ogunquit, and Tacoma Park, Maryland, that restrict the use of synthetic pesticides in order to minimize chemical exposure to residents, pets, and wildlife.