Daily News Archive
From March 29, 2001

Fairfax, California Bans Hazardous Pesticides

The town of Fairfax, California passed a local ordinance (Ordinance No. 687) that will prohibit the use of toxic pesticides on town parks, open space parcels, buildings owned and maintained by the town, and public rights-of-way (including both aerial spraying and ground applications) as of April 6, 2001. The ordinance also requires neighbor notification 48 hours prior to pesticide use on private property.

Fairfax joins other communities, including the Cities of Arcata and San Francisco in California and Albany and Monroe Counties in New York, in banning hazardous pesticides from being used on government owned or maintained property.

The pro-pesticide industry is continuing to fight the ordinance. Ginger Souders-Mason of Marin Beyond Pesticides Coalition says, "We need more towns in California to adopt this kind of measure to demonstrate determination."

The neighborhood notification provision of the Fairfax ordinance requires 48-hour prior written notification by mail or hand delivered and is to include the location, time, date, type of pesticide to be used, and "an appropriate 800 number for information regarding the product content and potential impacts." Private property owners applying a pesticide must also post notification sign at the front of the property and remain posted for 48 hours after the application.

Certain pesticides, including non-volatile insect or rodent baits in tamper resistant containers, boric acid products, horticultural soaps and oils that do not contain synthetic pesticides or synergists, granular pesticides, application of a pesticide by direct injection into a plant, spot applications, and certain aerosol products, are exempted from neighbor notification and are not prohibited to be used by the Town of Fairfax.

Fairfax Town Council has included an exception to the ordinance, allowing the town council to allow pesticides if there is a "mandatory finding that the health, safety and welfare of the community is so threatened that an emergency exists, that no reasonable alternative is available and the prohibition of the use of pesticide would create the potential for allowing a significant adverse impact on the town" by a 2/3rds vote of the full council.