Home NEWS Local Scene Whaddaya Know, Other Locals Unhappy With Use Of Leaf Blowers… New Anti-Blower...

Whaddaya Know, Other Locals Unhappy With Use Of Leaf Blowers… New Anti-Blower Group Organizes In Walnut Creek

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Veteran readers may have recognized our past truculence when it comes to the widespread and unceasing use of Satan’s Whistle in the 24/680 – known to the evil scientists who created them as: The Leaf Blower.

Past efforts to lessen the impact of the whiny, fume-spewing monsters have been mocked or gone unnoticed by public officials apparently intent on keeping the legions of cheap “landscaping” crews in these parts in business.

Responses to past complaints have included: “Just don’t listen to them… pretend it’s the ocean,” “get triple paned windows,” or – our favorite – “Why don’t you move?”

We acted on that last suggestion and managed to escape the Devil’s Whirrr for the most part in recent years, but as we are early risers and prone to outdoor activities we cannot help but notice the Leaf Blower “Arms Race” is ratcheting up with earlier (4 a.m. to 5 a.m.) start times and no armistice granted on Holidays or what we had hoped would be blessedly noise and stress-free weekends.

You may be familiar with an earlier attempt by some neighbors (mentioned in the accompanying video) to reduce the noise level created by excessive blowing in Orinda (it failed). And now,  according to a Change.Org petition, a group in Walnut Creek is seeking to ban gas leaf blowers. The group calls itself Walnut Creek Calm.

Gas leaf blowers have been banned in 25 California cities for their excessive noise, horrendous pollution and terrible health impacts to the community and the workers who operate them. Walnut Creek prides itself as a sustainable, livable community, yet we continue to allow the use of this dangerous equipment in our schools, public spaces and neighborhoods.

We are petitioning the City Council to follow 25 other California cities and ban the operation of gas powered leaf blowers in our community to improve our health, our air and our quality of life.

According to NPC Quietnet, here is a list of cities with an ordinance, although they do note their list may not be up to date.

Belvedere (1987) It shall be unlawful for any person within the city limits to operate any portable machine powered with a gasoline engine used to blow leaves, dirt and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns or other surfaces.
Berkeley (1991) …it shall be unlawful for any person, including any city employee, to operate any portable machine powered with a gasoline engine used to blow leaves, dirt, and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns, or other surfaces within the City limits.
Beverly Hills (1976) It shall be unlawful for any person within the City to use or operate any portable machine powered with a gasoline engine used to blow leaves, dirt, and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns, or other surfaces.
Carmel (1975) The operation of a combustion engine blower for the purpose of displacing, removing or blowing any materials from or about public or private property in a manner which allows the engine to be heard on public property and causes the materials to be blown into the air in a manner which allows them to settle on public property or on private property not belonging to the same owner on which the blower is being operated is declared to be a public nuisance and unlawful.
Claremont (1991) …Whereas, the city council finds the operation of gasoline powered leaf blower use results in dust, engine emissions, and noise pollution…Whereas, the city council finds that gasoline powered leaf blowers exceed the noise standards as set forth in Chapter 5 of the Land Use and Development Code…Whereas, the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) in its twenty year Clean Air Plan recommends a ban on gasoline powered blowers…Now, therefore, the city council does ordain…Internal combustion engine (gasoline) powered leaf blowers shall be prohibited in the city after March 1, 1991…Use of any type of leaf blower on any city owned or maintained property is prohibited…
Del Mar (total ban) It shall be unlawful for any person to use or operate within the City, any portable machine, powered with a gasoline engine or electric motor, to blow leaves, dirt and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns, and other surfaces.
Hermosa Beach (total ban) It is unlawful to use within the city limits or cause to be used electrical or gasoline powered backpack/leafblowers, such as commonly used by gardeners, landscapers and other persons.
Indian Wells (1990) Leaf blowers shall be prohibited in all zones within the City except : (i) individual property occupants may operate a single electrically powered leaf blower with use confined to his/her property; (ii) golf course operators may operate gasoline powered leaf blowers during the months of September 15th through December 1st of each year.
Lawndale (1997) (not yet obtained)
Laguna Beach (total ban – 1993) The use of electrical or gasoline powered blowers, such as commonly used by gardeners and other persons for cleaning lawns, yards, driveways, gutters, and other property is prohibited at any time within the city limits.
Los Altos (1991) …it shall be unlawful for any person within the City to use or operate any portable machine powered with a gasoline engine used to blow leaves, dirt, and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns, landscape areas or other surface.
Los Angeles (1998) (to be provided later)
Malibu …the following acts and the causing or permitting thereof, are declared to be in violation of this Chapter:…Leaf Blowers. The use or operation of any portable machine powered with a combustion or gasoline engine used to blow leaves, dirt and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns and other surfaces.
Menlo Park (1998) To be provided
Mill Valley (1993) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a gas-powered device to blow leaves, dirt or other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns or other surfaces within any area of the City.
Piedmont (1990) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a gasoline-powered device used to blow leaves, dirt or other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns or other surfaces within any area of the City except that gasoline-powered leaf blowers may be used by public agencies on publicly-owned or operated facilities.
Santa Barbara (1997) It shall be unlawful for any person within the City to use or operate any portable machine powered with a gasoline engine, or gasoline powered generator, to blow leaves, dirt, and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns, or other surfaces.
Santa Monica (total ban) No person shall operate any motorized leafblower within the City.
West Hollywood (1986) The purpose of this Ordinance is to prohibit the use and operation of gasoline powered leaf blowers in the City of West Hollywood. These devices, used to blow leaves, dirt and debris, create an excessive and unusual amount of noise, often operating at up to ninety decibels. The sustained operation of leaf blowers at this decibel level is literally deafening to persons who reside and work within earshot of the many gardeners and property owners who utilize the devices. The sound is extremely annoying and distracting and not only causes disturbance of those in the vicinity of users of leaf blowers but has the potential to cause hearing damage. In addition, leaf blowers tend to blow dirt, dust and other particulate matter in the air, thereby reducing the air quality in West Hollywood, aggravating persons with allergies and asthmatic conditions and depositing such debris on other public and private property. There are many alternate methods of disposing of leaves available to gardeners and property owners, including electric blowers, rakes, brooms, vacuums and water. The use of gasoline powered blowers is hereby declared to constitute a public nuisance by virtue of the detrimental effect such blowers have on the community and residents of West Hollywood.

This story was first broken by our colleagues at Claycord.com and EastCountyToday and Walnut Creek Calm has launched a Facebook page.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I’m glad it failed in Orinda. Wise Orindans know that leaf blowers are a very important tool to their gardeners, or they want to use them themselves. If you’re annoyed, you have your options. Keep your windows closed. Or tune it out. As far as pollution, should we ban everything that pollutes? Including cars, busses, etc.?

    This boils down to micro-management. Micro-managers want to control everything and everybody, or they’re not happy. They’re horribly addicted to excessive control. If it wasn’t so pathetic, it would actually be comical.

  2. If you ban leaf blowers then only the criminals will have leaf blowers, and you don’t want to live in that world.

  3. The nosiest thing (in any neighborhood with children) will always be children. Are we going to ban happily married adults from having children too? Or are we going to “compromise” and build 55+ communities, where older folks who want to live “peacefully” without the sound of children? I believe we compromised, and built the communities.

    There are communities where you won’t have to be bothered with leaf blowers. You shouldn’t have to move, but if your refuse to compromise so gardeners can do their jobs – you’re the problem.

    • Who is in charge? Homeowners or the mow and blowers? I think you can say the blowers feel they have the right to do as they please. One was interviewed on television this past week and said as much, maintaining that he had to make noise and blow wet leaves around on spare the air days because he needed to send money back to his family in Mexico. I get it, but who decides? Him? Or the homeowner? I say it should be the homeowner and I offered our guys more money if they’d use rakes. The first time they broke out the blowers — took about two weeks —- I fired them. And it felt great. Haven’t looked back.

      • In all fairness, our gardeners DONT use leaf blowers. Why? I have NO idea. We didn’t ask, nor did they tell us. My husband and I aren’t micro-managers, and we let them do their job THEIR way. And it’s OUR decision who we hire.

        I’m just sick to death of people who want to ban anything they don’t like. Get over yourself. If we banned everything we didn’t like, we wouldn’t have a right to anything.

        This petition was started in WC 9 months ago, and there are 371 signatures. Doesn’t sound like WC residents are “too concerned.”

        I think the homeowner has the right to hire and fire anyone they want, and employees can do their job their way. Especially if they’re self employed. If you don’t like their tools – don’t hire them.

  4. Besides micro-management and telling others how to do their job (gardeners), there is another issue at play. Resentment towards the wealthy, who can easily afford gardeners. Where’s the complaints against leaf blowers in apartment and condo complexes in less expensive areas? The complaints come from those living in wealthy areas, who aren’t wealthy.

    The truth hurts…

    • Patently false. I am a lafayette homeowner and I despise the harder who blows leaves on Sunday morning at 8 am. That comment tells me a lot about you

      • I’m basing this on my own experience – people I know who are complaining. The fact that you can’t compromise and let others do their jobs (gardeners and homeowners) says a lot about you.

        You don’t see people in Pittsburg and Antioch complaining. How come they aren’t listed? Or Concord, Pleasant Hill or Martinez? Most of the suburbs listed are WEALTHY SUBURBS.

        There was a situation in Orinda – I believe in 2010. I’ll leave it at that. As an Orindan, that’s what I was referring to. We don’t live in Lafayette.

  5. It’s a perfect American invention: it burns fossil fuels, makes noise, and turns your problem (leaves) into someone elses (noise.) ‘Murica.

  6. They’ll never be banned around here because there are too many blower crews and they are cheap and the cities hire them too. I would be in favor of restricting the times and days they can be used. I think that would help a lot.

  7. I agree that the best thing to do is not to hire workers who use them if they bother you. But I have to say that most people around here are just looking for cheap mo and blowers and often aren’t around to hear the noise or see the dirt and fumes they put up when on the job. That’s when it becomes someone elses problem. And no I don’t like them and wish they were not used.

    • Agree. We don’t use them and we don’t hire landscapers who use them. I guess we were lucky to find the only crew in the area who doesn’t. And if you doubt how much dirt and dust they throw up just look under your door after one of those blowers goes past. I really cant understand why they are used.

  8. Annoyance about the Dust. Don’t recall windowsills being so constantly dusty before the advent of leaf blowers. Dust is blown off bare ground, asphalt and concrete daily that settles on everything. It is like dusting a throw carpet inside the house. The Carpet is nice too bad about everywhere else.

  9. Victory=higher $ cost from your landscaper, Higher $ cost from your lanscaper=Lamorinda outrage, Lamo outrage=overturn the blower ban!!!

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