15th Annual Mowing Down Pollution On May 3 At Qualcomm Stadium

County residents invited to turn in gasoline powered mowers for top-of-the-line rechargeable electric model

The 15th annual Mowing Down Pollution Lawnmower Trade-in program is set for 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 3, at Qualcomm Stadium.


Supervisor Roberts greets a participant at the 2013 mower exchange.


San Diegans line up for their new rechargeable mower.

Developed and hosted by Supervisor Ron Roberts, the event organized by the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District will feature the exchange of 650 gasoline lawnmowers for new, rechargeable battery-powered, Black & Decker CM1936 mowers with 19-inch blades and 36 volt power systems. 

All residents of San Diego County with proper identification and a qualifying gasoline mower are eligible for this program. The price of the new mower remains at $99.99, a discount from the $149.99 offered by the project in its first 10 years. The mowers retail for about $400. The cost reduction is thanks to a special four-year bulk purchase agreement and funding from air pollution fines.

The exchange process is simple. The event is first come, first served. Individuals can line up as early as 4:30 a.m., although there are plenty of mowers to go around this year and those who arrive by 7 a.m. are expected to easily get a mower. The event ends at 10 a.m.

Once in line, a place card is distributed to each person who is present with a gas mower for trade-in. When the customer reaches the front of the line proof of his or her San Diego County residency is checked and their mower is then inspected to make sure it is in operable condition and contains all of its parts. Broken mowers or those missing pieces will be turned away. (This is an important detail that arises each year. Public funds can only be used to replace mowers that actually work and contribute to local air pollution.)

Following mower approval, the participant is given a voucher for a new mower. The person then walks over to the cashier to provide payment (cash or credit card only; no checks). After paying, the customer drives their vehicle into a staging line where the new mowers are loaded into vehicles, completing the process.

The atmosphere is fun, festive and unique, with snaking lines of mowers and people. This year’s event will include an expanded collection of electric cars, courtesy of San Diego Gas & Electric, and offerings from a food truck.

As a member of the California Air Resources Control Board since 1995, Supervisor Roberts is on the leading edge of cleaning up the air in San Diego County and across California.

Gasoline powered lawn mowers contribute to 5 percent of the nation's air pollution. At the conclusion of this year's event, the San Diego Air Pollution Control Board will have distributed more than 7,500 zero-emission mowers since the year 2000 start of the program. The trade-ins have made a real dent in air pollution, removing more than 22 tons of pollutants each year. Gas-powered machines emit an average of about 10 pounds of air pollution per year, said Robert Kard of the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District.

Mowing Down Pollution provides San Diego County residents another way to make a difference in improving air quality and the quality of life for all of our citizens.


All mowers are inspected to make sure they are in working order -- which includes having all wheels, a blade and engine pull cord -- before being exchanged. A hopelessly broken gasoline mower is not emitting pollutants, so there is no air pollution gain in subsidizing its replacement with a rechargeable model.