Banning leaf-blowers


Debate.png A movement exists in Davis to ban leaf-blowers (or at least gas powered ones) due to their effects on the local surroundings, in terms of noise, air quality and the environmental impact of the engines. One of the groups that wishes to ban them is the Davisites for Less Noise and Particle Pollution, or DLNPP. They have a facebook group, and are trying to rally enough people to their cause to persuade the Davis City Council to recognize their concerns and take action. Banning leaf-blowers is not an idea unique to Davis. Several other cities have considered the matter, with some choosing to adopt bans with varying levels of enforcement.

  1. Types
  2. Data
    1. Environmental Effects
    2. Health Effects
    3. Cost
    4. Additional Links
  3. Arguments In Favor of Banning Leaf-Blowers
    1. Responses to Points in Favor
  4. Arguments Against Banning Leaf-Blowers
      1. Noise
      2. Pollution
      3. Health
      4. Conclusion
      5. Previously Discussed Points
    1. Responses to Arguments Against
  5. Alternate/Personal/Silly Solutions
    1. Related Issues


There are several types of portable leaf blowers:

By far the most common type, and that used by almost all grounds maintenance workers, is the 2-cycle gasoline/oil engine. This type is inexpensive, very loud, and because heavy oil must be mixed directly with the gasoline (typically 32:1 ratio), highly polluting. Blowers with 4-cycle engines (like cars use) are available from Craftsman, Makita, Ryobi, Shindaiwa, Troy-Bilt, and others. Electric motors are far quieter since fuel is not exploded in pulses, and there is no exhaust whatsoever. They can be even more powerful than gasoline engine types. The corded electric types require an extension cord to be continuously plugged in. The cordless types have a portable battery. For this reason, the cordless types are often less powerful (to prolong battery life), and more expensive due to the battery cost. They also require recharging after some period of use which may make them unsuitable for professional (all-day) use.

Any ban should address the issue at hand (noise, air pollution, dust, etc.) rather than be technology-specific. For example, if noise is the issue the ban should be written "blowers louder than XXXdBA" are banned rather than "all blowers are banned because they are loud". This way, if a 2-cycle engine were fitted with a muffler it could pass.


Environmental Effects

Based on 1998 data, a report from the California Environmental Protection Agency back in 2000 found that a leaf blower may produce much more pollution than a modern car in several categories excepting CO2. "For CO (Table 9), the estimated 423 g emitted by one hour of leaf blower use is approximately 26 times the amount emitted by a new vehicle, but approximately one-third of the CO emissions of an older vehicle. While not implying that the operator will inhale this amount of CO, these data do suggest concern about the relatively large amount of CO emitted directly into the air space surrounding the operator. For particulate matter exhaust emissions, the leaf blower emits eight to 49 times the particulates of a light duty vehicle, primarily because of the large amount of unburned fuel directly released by the two-stroke engine ... [and] for the average 1999 leaf blower and car data presented in Table 9, we calculate that hydrocarbon emissions from one-half hour of leaf blower operation equal about 7,700 miles of driving, at 30 miles per hour average speed. The carbon monoxide emission benchmark is signficantly different. For carbon monoxide, one-half hour of leaf blower useage (Table 9) would be equivalent to about 440 miles of automobile travel at 30 miles per hour average speed ([WWW] pages 50-51)."

Since 2000, the US EPA has enacted a series of regulations mandating substantial improvements in emissions. The CEPA report, using data from 1998, includes a relatively small number of blowers produced after a 1995 USEPA regulation which mandated a 33% reduction in emissions. In 2000, a second phase of emissions reduction was adopted in stages over the next several years, beginning in 2002 with the last stage in 2006. At the time of its adoption, the second phase was projected to result in an additional 70% reduction in hydrocarbon and NOx emissions by the year 2010 over the initial 1995 regulation ([WWW]source--p. 3). In 2007, the EPA passed a third emissions regulation mandating an additional 35% reduction in hydrocarbon evaporative emissions, to go into effect by 2011 or 2012 depending on the size of the motor ([WWW]source). In all, there have been dramatic reductions in the emissions of gas blowers in recent years, especially in regards to hydrocarbons, NOx, and evaporative emissions. CO and overall particulate matter air pollution have probably also improved at least somewhat over the course of the decade, but it is difficult to determine exactly how much so. The least change, if any, would likely be found in the amount of fugitive dust emissions over the years, especially when one considers that the whole point of a leaf-blower is to blow about scattered foliage and debris. It should also be noted that many of the older leaf blowers are still in use as of 2010, owing to the fact that phase two was only completed as late as 2006.

Links (from SteveDavies)

Health Effects

(from SteveDavies)

There are plenty of studies. Fact: Leaf blowers emit nitrogen oxides and Volatile Organic Compounds, which react with sunlight to create tropospheric, or ground-level, ozone. The serious, negative health effects of ozone are well documented. NOx also are harmful to human health. See the link below to an EPA study about the human health effects from exposure to NOx.

One of the best sources for information about the health effects of ozone is the National Research Council's report from 2008: [WWW] (link to summary). Press release: [WWW]

"Short-term exposure to current levels of ozone in many areas is likely to contribute to premature deaths, says a new National Research Council report, which adds that the evidence is strong enough that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should include ozone-related mortality in health-benefit analyses related to future ozone standards. The committee that wrote the report was not asked to consider how evidence has been used by EPA to set ozone standards, including the new public health standard set by the agency last month.

"Ozone, a key component of smog, can cause respiratory problems and other health effects. In addition, evidence of a relationship between short-term — less than 24 hours — exposure to ozone and mortality has been mounting, but interpretations of the evidence have differed, prompting EPA to request the Research Council report. In particular, the agency asked the committee to analyze the ozone-mortality link and assess methods for assigning a monetary value to lives saved for the health-benefits assessments.

"Based on a review of recent research, the committee found that deaths related to ozone exposure are more likely among individuals with pre-existing diseases and other factors that could increase their susceptibility. However, premature deaths are not limited to people who are already within a few days of dying."

The report itself notes that "There are myriad major outdoor sources of VOCs, including vegetation, solvent use, and mobile sources. Ambient sources of NOx include fuel combustion (for example, in cars, trucks, construction equipment, factories, and power plants) and to a lesser extent biogenic activity."

Link to full report: [WWW]

More links can be found in a piece I wrote to try to convince members of my city's environmental action task force to support a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers. [WWW] SteveDavies

In its 2008 final rule lowering the acceptable level of ozone for metropolitan areas, EPA said, "The Staff Paper concluded that the overall body of evidence clearly calls into question the adequacy of the current standard in protecting at-risk groups against an array of adverse health effects that range from decreased lung function and respiratory symptoms to serious indicators of respiratory morbidity including emergency department visits and hospital admissions for respiratory causes, nonaccidental mortality, and possibly cardiovascular effects. These at-risk groups notably include asthmatic children and other people with lung disease, as well as all children and older adults, especially those active outdoors, and outdoor workers.\16\ The available information provides strong support for consideration of an O3 standard that would provide increased health protection for these at-risk groups. The Staff Paper also concluded that risks projected to remain upon meeting the current standard are indicative of risks to at-risk groups that can be judged to be important from a public health perspective. This information reinforced the Staff Paper conclusion that consideration should be given to revising the level of the standard so as to provide increased public health protection."

Here's another excerpt:

"Newly available large multi-city studies and related analyses (Bell et al., 2004; Huang et al., 2005; and Schwartz, 2005) designed specifically to examine the effect of O3 and other pollutants on mortality have provided much more robust and credible information. Together these studies have reported significant associations between O3 and mortality that were robust to adjustment for PM and different adjustment methods for temperature and suggest that the effect of O3 on mortality may be immediate but may also persist for several days. Further analysis of one of these multi-city studies (Bell et al., 2006) examined the shape of the concentration-response function for the O3-mortality relationship in 98 U.S. urban communities for the period 1987 to 2000 specifically to evaluate whether a threshold level exists. Results from various analytic methods all indicated that any threshold, if it exists, would likely occur at very low concentrations, far below the level of the current O3 NAAQS and nearing background levels."

More links (from SteveDavies):


Additional Links

Arguments In Favor of Banning Leaf-Blowers


Davis is a wonderful community with a vibrant downtown scene and diverse residents. As fall approaches, our green town is covered by dry leaves of all colors and sorts. Most gardeners have resorted to leaf-blowers to deal with the issue in a quick and dirty way. And out of all leaf blowers on the market, many have picked gas leaf-blowers — the worst kind.

Leaf-blowers — regardless of the type — move leaves by blowing air. However, lighter than leaves and more susceptible to upward winds is dust and other particulate harmful to humans and animals. Thus, leaf blowers, aside from merely relocating leaves, increase the particulate matter (or particle pollution) making our breathing harder and causing people's allergies to act-up. Kids are the most affected by this.

Leaves can be relocated almost as quickly with a rake, lifting less dust into the air. And let's not forget that rakes are much quieter than leaf blowers! Gas leaf-blowers particularly are not only louder but even more polluting.

Our businesses downtown, many of which have wonderful outdoor patios, deal constantly with extra clean-up of dust and disturbed customers due to leaf blowers. some students cannot study in peace in their homes because a gardener going from building-to-building can take hours with a leaf-blower emitting up to 100 decibels of noise when close to windows! Cars and bikes get covered by dust, especially frustrating if they have been recently washed. Lower height plants like flowers get covered by dust much faster and dry-out.

So let's do our town a favor and push gardeners, and property owners to switch to the good old rake.

As a matter of fact, through reasonable regulations, many cities of similar sizes and characteristics across Northern California, including but not limited to Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Los Altos have made the issue of leaf-blowers into a benefit to the community with less noise and air pollution by starting programs like collecting the leaves for composting. In fact, at least 20 cities in California already have leaf blower bans in place.
So let's make Davis an even nicer place where we aren't awakened by leaf blowers, or our morning coffee isn't ruined by a gust of dust caused by a leaf-blower.

With enough support and likes on this page, we can push city council to enact a city regulation limiting or even better, banning leaf-blowers from Davis.

Re: allergies

Re: Businesses, cars

Re: Other communities that enacted a ban

Arguments Against Banning Leaf-Blowers

Leaf-blowers can be annoying. We all agree on that point. Inconsiderate users who crank them up too high, use them too early/late, or blow stuff at passersby. The thing is, there are already regulations in place to address these issues. If those regulations are insufficient, they can be adjusted. If they aren't enforced, A) that's a problem with enforcement, not with the laws themselves, and B) there's nothing to indicate that a ban would be enforced any more effectively.

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously stated, and as several people have paraphrased in this discussion, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." When removed from its original context, however, that quote can lose the basis for its obvious truth: when I continue to swing my fist past where the other man's nose begins, a very obvious and significant harm results.

The problem many people have with this movement to ban leaf-blowers is that it hasn't established the harm that makes it wrong to keep on swinging. The issues concerning proponents of the ban seem to be three: 1) Noise; 2) Pollution; and 3) Health.

Some leaf-blowers are quite noisy, but Davis already has a noise ordinance which puts limits both on hours and on volume. If the ordinance is inadequate, it can be adjusted to achieve the noise-related ends of the desired ban. If it is not enforced, that is something that should be raised with the city and with the police department. Talk to your elected representatives and public servants about Davis Municipal Code/24.02.020 and Davis Municipal Code/24.02.040 if you don't think they're doing the trick.

There's a lot of very damning and very outdated information out there about the pollution emitted by leaf-blowers. This is primarily because there doesn't seem to have been much study of the issue since the series of increasingly strict regulations put in place by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Through a series of three regulations in 1995, 2000, and 2007, gas-powered leaf-blowers are required to produce 80% less pollution than they typically were prior to 1995. The 2007 regulation, by the time it goes fully into effect in 2011-2012 (dates vary depending on the size of the motor), will require an additional 35% reduction over the existing standards. Electric blowers are cleaner still. See the [WWW]Data section above for sources. If we start with the assumption that a certain amount of emission, when minimized and regulated, is an inevitable and acceptable consequence of modern living, it's hard to argue that the pollution emitted by leaf-blowers isn't being addressed.

Concerned citizens might reasonably advocate for a requirement that landscapers update their equipment to post-2000 standards and, within some reasonable period of time after the new regulations go into effect, to post-2007 regulation standards. Doing so would be far less intrusive and ultimately less costly than an outright ban, and it would substantially achieve the same results as to the pollution concern.

If leaf-blowers cause significant health issues, that's a very good argument for banning them. Everyone agrees on that point! Thus far, however, no one has offered anything resembling data on that point. Consider this an open invitation: find real information—say, a study by a reputable source—that supports the claim that leaf-blowers are causing real health problems and post it here. None of us want to be exposed to dangerous particulates.

However, the fact that a number of intelligent, outspoken, and interested people have argued the issue at some length here—and elsewhere—without pointing to a single tidbit of scientific information on the issue raises the question: is the problem real?

One more thing: we are also near (on all sides) farmland, which is tilled (sending up huge plumes of dust etc) and also there are occasional burn days, which I'm sure trounce the air far worse than all the leafblowers combined and doubled...

Banning private activity is an intrusive and potentially expensive proposition. It's appropriate when it is necessary to prevent some sort of harm. The greater the harm, the greater the intrusion and cost that may be justified. In this case, proponents of the ban have failed to present any real harm that can't be addressed by other, less intrusive and costly methods. If there is real harm—particularly to our health, as some have claimed—a ban may well be appropriate. Until such harm is demonstrated, though, the logical conclusion remains the one stated by several people in the comments below: proponents want to ban leaf-blowers because they don't like them. And that's just not good enough.

Previously Discussed Points

  1. As fun as it is to be authoritarian, there are better ways of dealing with people's dislike for leaf-blowers than pass laws telling everyone what they can and can't do. Actually talking to your neighbors about the problem can go a long way.

  2. Is the city going to buy everyone's newly-prohibited gas leaf-blowers if they're too loud to operate legally?

  3. There is no non-anecdotal proof that they contribute to asthma, hearing loss or any of the other serious claims. Wind and already existing pollen are a greater factor in asthma, and there is no ban on construction equipment, trains or other, much louder, tools. Opponents to the ban have pointed out that there is no data supporting the benefits of a ban. For instance, when other cities have banned gas-blowers, there was no drop in asthma-related hospital visits.

  4. Apartment complexes will pass along the increased cost of maintenance to tenants and raising rents throughout town. The added cost could be enough to price many lower income residents out of Davis. From the [WWW]above link, yard crews found that the landscaping time at single residences increased by roughly 50% in switching over to rake and broom. Costs will inevitably increase proportionally, and be passed on to renters. Proponents of the ban spoke with gardeners in their Davis neighborhood and received estimates of $15-20 per 2 weeks in increased costs for large apartment complexes translating to $390-520 more per year — a significant amount.

  5. They are already illegal if they break the noise regulations. Enforcement of existing laws would result in the same effect, and adding additional laws would not guarantee enforcement.

  6. A ban on leaf blowers in general will block blowers that alleviate some of the issues (like electric blowers, which are quieter and have a lower ecological impact).

  7. Some yards have delicate plants or exposed root systems that make raking problematic or impossible. Many types of light ground cover and delicate plants create large areas, such as much of the Arboretum, where raking is impractical because of either damage to the plants or simple difficulty in pulling detritus out of the plants. Leaf blowers allow for a quick, harmless way of maintaining such areas. Without them it would take many times longer, and some types of ground cover would even need to be maintained quite literally by hand.

    Response: Harmless? Leaf blowers emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides and Volatile Organic Compounds. Neither of these, which react with sunlight to create harmful ground-level ozone, is harmless. In addition, leaf blowers stir up particulates — dust containing who-knows-what, for example — that make breathing difficult for people with asthma and other respiratory problems. response to the response: I believe you go astray when you overlook the fact that harmless is used in the context of it doesn't cause damage where physical agitation (such as raking) would. Also No one doubts running a gas motor creates vocs, but does a modern blower create sketchly large amounts of vocs with nominal use?

  8. A ban on blowers prevents the handicapped and elderly from being independently capable of tending to their own property. Costs for these people would increase dramatically, since they would be forced to hire landscapers (whose costs would have just gone up by around 50%; see above).

    Response: Do we really want the elderly using gas-powered leaf blowers? That class of citizens is more vulnerable to the pollution caused by leaf blowers and other lawn and garden equipment. As for the physically challenged, the notion of people in wheelchairs traversing their lawns with leaf blowers, or people struggling with canes or other physical supports, while also wielding a leaf blower, is

1. Electric blowers are often also vacuuming mulchers. Mulch and compost are good, and it's hard to get more local than using your own yard's products in the yard.

"Re: As fun as it is to be Authoritarian..."

"RE: Is the city going to buy the leaf blowers?"

"RE: There is no non-anecdotal proof that they contribute to asthma "

"RE: Apartments will pass along the costs"

"RE: We already have noise violation laws"

"RE: A Ban on leaf blowers could affect electric blowers"

"RE: Raking can be bad for certain plants"

"RE: Bans would prevent the elderly from working on their own landscapes"

"RE: But leaves make mulch and compost"

"Re: "Leaf blowers allow for a quick, harmless way of maintaining such areas."

Don't know where to put this data, but here is a list of cities that have leaf blower bans (found [WWW]here) and the associated median household incomes (from Wikipedia): Belvedere ($130k), Berkeley ($57k), Beverly Hills (N/A), Carmel ($58), Claremont ($113k), Del Mar ($81k), Indian Wells ($94k), Laguna Beach ($90k), Los Altos ($158k), Malibu ($102k), Mill Valley ($90k), Piedmont ($134k), Santa Monica ($71k), Hermosa Beach ($81k), West Hollywood ($39k), Palo Alto ($119k), Portola Valley ($244k), and Sunnyvale($88k).

Alternate/Personal/Silly Solutions

RebelLeafblowers.jpgIf leaf blowers are outlawed, you can create an Outlaw Rebel Leafblower gang. Roaming the streets with backpack leafblowers studded in spikes, terrorizing townsfolk and leaving pristine lawns and neat compost piles in your wake.

Related Issues


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2010-10-18 19:07:37   As a NY'er (Upstate)-I'm going to comment here. While I respect the idea of the position, I think this is total overkill. I have a lawn maintenance man for our home where if he used the rake it would take him *LONGER* to cleanup then using the leaf-blowers. Tell me—are you going to try to ban the WIND when it blows up dust??? During the summer here pollen covers our cars/patios and drives our allergies insane...sorry friends—I think this is going way way too far. Best of luck though —Users/PeterBoulay

2010-10-18 20:06:00   Leaf blowers are usually not used after hours and large areas could be covered in a matter of minutes (as opposed to raking...). If I rake my yard it would take 35-40 minutes while blowing takes only 3-4 minutes. The noise produced is limited and transient and occurs only during the daytime. If you have issues with dust, perhaps you should not live in a dry, hot climate. —path

2010-10-18 21:46:43   Wind is not the same as leaf-blowers. Leaf-blowers generate directional and inaccurate air-flow of very high strength lifting up particulate. Wind in the other hand is sweeping (side-ways motion) which while it does lift some dust, it not even close to a leaf blower. I constantly use a rake in my property and it takes only about 10% extra time. If anything, we should at least ban gas leaf-blowers. Maybe leave some hours open during weekdays at a certain distance from residential areas for electric leaf-blowers. I think it's a good idea and long overdue. —amesguich

2010-10-18 22:51:39   Leaf blowers are a scourge on the face of the earth. Another irritation that humans lived without for thousands of years, yet somehow now we "must" have them. —CovertProfessor

CP- I eagerly await the literature that demonstrates they are a scourge.

2010-10-19 11:24:49   Rakes should at least be used instead of leaf blowers in the high foot traffic/cycling areas such as 3rd St near campus. Leaf blowers end up stopping every few minutes as people have to walk in front of them so the time difference of using a rake instead should be negligible. —CJBorges

2010-10-19 11:29:35   Leaf blowers are annoying, and I'm not a fan (get it?), but the idea of banning them amuses me. It's a very Davis thing to do. Sort of like banning being annoying. We have a fascinating blend of extreme liberalism and outright authoritarianism in our quaint little town. —TomGarberson

2010-10-19 11:39:36   Ah...once again the sweet sweet smell of Davis's hypicritical conservatism. It is all about percieved property values. —RocksandDirt

2010-10-19 20:43:25   A thought just occurred to me: are they already illegal, or does the noise control code exempt them? —JabberWokky

2010-10-20 01:43:40   Each housing unit has a gardener that uses a gas leaf blower on a different day at a different time. This year I am lucky enough to have one neighbor that between 7 and 8 am Monday mornings wakes everyone around up. It is so loud and the man uses it for perhaps 20 minutes. At 100 ft the sound is still around some 60-80 decibels. If it were rock music playing at the same volume and time the police would need to be called! It makes things (cars, windows, bikes, the air) filthy as it kicks up the dust, chemical, allergen, dander cocktail around our houses (much more than the wind which patterns in a particular area). We live in tight quarters in this town and maybe a little bit of regulation here, say perhaps hour and day restrictions is something that makes sense for Davis. For what my vote is worth I am in favor of some legislation as the use of gas leaf blowers is, albeit modestly, negatively impacting my quality of life. —williame

2010-10-20 01:55:17   I visited a house in Davis once where the backyard was covered in leaves about 2 feet deep. I really admire this approach and think its very practical for people who dislike yard work or leaf blowers. —NickSchmalenberger

2010-10-20 09:23:15   My wife and I were riding down 8th st on our bikes last week and a guy with a gas leaf blower proceeded to blow leaves, dust, dirt, etc. right on to us as we passed. I was rather annoyed. However, I have an electric leaf blower I use for my own yard, I would be even more annoyed if someone started telling me how I could and could not clean MY yard. I see both sides of the issue here. If the city passes a ban, anyone who uses a landscape service can expect to see the fees increased (likely significantly) to reflect the increased labor. Most apartment complexes would likely eat the cost but might pass it on to the tenants as increased rent. —DagonJones

2010-10-20 19:05:24   I hate to just add a comment instead of factual info but I have to say: I hate leaf blowers. With a passion. I sympathize with those earning very low wages who use them. I wish there was another way. Perhaps it'll have to be like organic food. Enough people pay a higher price, the instances of "non-leaf" blowers will increase. Or perhaps it should be like methyl-bromide: outlaw it and eventually all strawberries get more expensive. I don't know, but I do know they are horrible: the bits get in cars, all over anything outside: near doors and open windows I watch the bits come inside (but your concrete is spit-shine clean!). Watching the leaf blowers during winter is especially absurd: slowly a few single wet leaves turns over and over, inching towards a pile. —JeffShaw

2010-10-21 01:12:49   FB 'Likes' strike fear into the City Council? That cracks me up! —Alpha

2010-10-21 11:27:26   "passed on to tenants as increased rent," I agree with this point, made by Dragon. People who own homes, can decide if they wish to make some sort of neighborhood agreement; however, those who live in apartment complexes, who already pay high rents,do not enjoy such a luxury as neighborhood coalitions. Anything, any excuse, that management will find they will use to jack our rents up. And why shouldn't they? There is more of a demand for affordable housing in Davis than there are places to rent. If the dust bothers your home-owning mouths then wear a mask, cover your cars, or just sell your house and move. Just another image issue to push those who don't fit the frame out of the picture-the poor. —JonCantrell

2010-10-21 15:42:36   How will this ban be enforced? With a fine? And how much if I offend say 3 or more times? Does this ban encompass both gas and electric? It seems ridiculous to me, maybe because I don't work from home and my Gardner is gone before I do arrive home. The market should decide this, if noise is an issue then pay for landscapers who use quieter machines, ones that endorse a "green" cleanup. The city street sweeper is louder than a leaf blower, I sure don't see anyone screaming to ban city, county, or city and county clean-up crews when those people pile leaves in the street. For God's sake man, machinery goes on all the time, I find jackhammers annoying but I sure as hell am not going to ban them and expect everyone to return to a pick axe. —BobBlumenfields

2010-10-21 17:31:13   Is the city going to refund people who have purchased leaf blowers?

Also I'm sick of people going through city laws rather than dealing with their neighbors. Can't you just ASK them to stop if it's bothering you or work out another time of the day? Heaven forbid we interact with others. 9 times out of 10 I haven't had a problem when I do request some consideration. As for the other 10% of the can't ban people from being assholes in this world. You can just try to be a bigger one - oh wait, I guess that's what this is about (Har) —OliviaY

2010-10-21 23:13:16   While I understand all of the arguments found in these comments, I just wanted to say that most leaf blowers I have passed while biking to and from school have always diverted their blowing ways away from me, or paused the action, to allow me to pass. There have been few incidences when this doesn't happen, and it's usually because they don't see me.

Also, I don't own a leaf blower. I can't afford one. So I rake, or I don't and my lawn dies a little. Sometimes they're used in the arboretum (mostly, in the special collection gardens) - and I ask you this, have YOU ever tried raking leaves from little delicate plant collections and ground covers that get torn up with the effort of raking but die under the leaves left? I'd love to get paid more to hand pick them all out ... but I don't get paid. I volunteer, and our little group has a lot of work to do. Additionally, the few women who do get paid have a lot of arboretum to cover (and it's not as if the University is ever likely to pay them more to hand rake).

While I have been woken as a poor, studying student by apartment complex gardening activities in the past, I never failed my classes because of it and my asthma has never been affected. Now, if you ask me about olives in bloom, my asthma doesn't like that - but I'm not about to ask for a ban on olive trees. —ChristyMarsden

2010-10-22 21:18:36   As to the comments here that are trying to make the issue of banning leaf blowers into a joke by mocking the very idea, the fact is that many cities have taken this issue quite seriously. And this problem is not unique to Davis nor is it new.
This from the Los Angeles Times July 4, 1997: " Concerned about noise and air pollution, Los Angeles last week joined more than 40 California cities in restricting gas-powered leaf blowers. In one of the most aggressive local laws, Los Angeles enacted an outright ban on the blowers within 500 feet of any residence. Offenders—gardeners and homeowners—can be fined up to $1,000 or sent to jail for as long as six months."
Do this Google search "cities banning leaf blowers" and you'll find lots of information. For example, here it is a link to a Sacramento organization [WWW] They list the California cities with a leaf blower ban and how well they're working. If other cities are able to make a ban work, why can't Davis?

2010-10-22 22:23:17   Leaving my apartment this afternoon, I saw someone using a leaf-blower and it was spewing out pollution. I saw another person using a leaf-blower on the UCD campus by the Silo as well. It's just funny that I notice how bad it is after this issue has been brought to light. —ThUn

2010-10-24 21:30:17   Wow... Banning leaf blowers? Do you people have any jobs? —MarioM

2010-10-26 27:25:00   I do work, 2 jobs, and I study full-time. I try my best to study at home so I at least get to be home a bit, but It's nearly impossible with leaf-blowers for hours every week-day afternoon and some mornings very early. I work until late many days, and leaf-blowers at 7am aren't fun. I tried talking to the neighbors and they said that their landscapers/gardeners are the ones who decide what to use. So I talked to the gardenersa couple of weeks ago, and again this week: Some rudely ignored me, one said he would try to make it quick, but no change in the last week, he still takes his time and even blows leafs that end-up falling in our patio. Maybe other people will have better luck using that approach. I didn't and find the existing regulations insufficient so I'm supporting a ban/tougher regulation. If it were a person screaming or super loud music at that hour and that loud, everyone would empathize. Plus, they are truly not "necessary", just convenient to a few. —amesguich

2010-10-26 20:44:10   So because you're miserable you want to use the local government to make others that way. AWESOME! </snark> sorry but if the motivation for people doing this is that they have a bad neighbor, you have no sympathy from me for trying to ruin it for others. —OliviaY

2010-10-27 11:48:08   Here is a link to a documented study by the Orange County grand jury who gathered information from a variety of sources for those of you who may be interested. In addition to health concerns, it addresses the issues of economics and compliance.

Here is the summary:

"The widespread daily usage of two-cycle gasoline engine leaf blowers in the cities
and unincorporated areas presents a health hazard to all citizens of Orange County.
The hazards are four-fold:

· Toxic exhaust fumes and emissions are created by gas-powered leaf blowers.
Exhaust pollution per leaf blower per hour is the equivalent of the amount of smog
from 17 cars driven one hour and is localized in the area of blower usage.

· The high-velocity air jets used in blowing leaves whip up dust and pollutants.
The particulate matter (PM) swept into the air by blowing leaves is composed of dust,
fecal matter, pesticides, fungi, chemicals, fertilizers, spores, and street dirt which
consists of lead and organic and elemental carbon. About five pounds of PM per leaf
blower per hour are swept into the air and take hours to settle.

· The quantity of pollution products that are injected into county air.
The total amount of pollutants injected into the environment by blower usage in the
county is significant. The ARB calculates that leaf blowers inject 2.11 tons of
combustion pollutants per day into Orange County air. Leaf blowers in the County
sweep twenty tons per day of small size particulate matter into the air.

· Blower engines generate high noise levels.
Gasoline-powered leaf blower noise is a danger to the health of the blower operator
and an annoyance to the non-consenting citizens in the area of usage.

In light of the evidence, the Grand Jury determined the health hazards citizens are
exposed to by the use of leaf blowers outweigh the questionable economic benefit
blowers may bring to the cities and the County. The Grand Jury recommends that the
cities, school districts, community college districts, and the County cease using gas
powered blowers in their maintenance and cleanup operations."

This report also points out that children are the most vulnerable to the pollution and noise caused by leaf blowers.

2010-11-02 08:17:15   It appears to me that several of the cities mentioned that have a ban are likely dominated by evergreen rather than deciduous trees. I can go with raking leaves in the desert or less shade tree environs. Here, we have a fall and a significant leaf drop. I have several large trees that are several feet in diameter and use a big rake on the lawn, and an electric blower for the patio's and walks;I have a heavier gas one that is not as effective and is more of a pain— it sits in the garage. I know my electric one will burn out eventually, the last 2 did as well (there's another waste of resources) which is why I bought the gas one. I use the blower at times when I think it is least likely to be bothering my neighbors. I don't do it when I know it is going to blow dust back on me or anyone else. I also use it on the roof to get leaves off— can't really rake that effectively. There is a place for both tools. My immediate neighbors (to the left, right, and across the street) hire 2 landscape companies to care for their yards. They come do it one time per week. Someone who said "every day" above, well I don't believe you. I've already taken down one large magnificent tree because it was a mess to keep clean, it provided great shade. If Davis bans blowers, I'll be taking 2 more down. Raking is more time-consuming, no question. Lastly, I'm more annoyed by the city street sweeper that comes before 7:00am (which I understand is illegal) and occurs before many of the cars on the street have left for work— what a waste of city resources as they are not sweeping the gutters etc. — Richardl —RichardL

2010-11-03 09:43:38   Make the law fit the problem. For instance, if the noise is the issue make the law require quieter blowers of whatever technology is used. If the problem is the pollution, address that. If the issue is blown up dust, address that. —SteveDavison

2010-11-03 09:47:15   Part of the problem is how we view nature and leaves itself. Why do we insist on getting ride of the leaves? There are no leaf blowers in the wild. There haven't been any for the last, er, billion years and we've done fine. Why not just leave the leaves? Everything is a resource. —SteveDavison

2010-11-03 10:38:59   Rights don't exist by themselves. In other words, one person's "right" to smoke is another's "right" to breath fresh air. One's right to hit another is their right to not be hit. One's right to peace and quiet is another's right to make noise. The right to pour waste into the water (or air) goes against the right to get unpolluted water (or air). People who choose to live in cities must accept restrictions on what they could do in less populated areas. More-so in apartment complexes, less-so in rural neighborhoods. But at some point we all live on the same planet, so we all must live with some restrictions. So it's not about having or "loosing" a right, it's about balancing interests of different people and finding a way to live together. —SteveDavison

2010-11-05 15:18:23   Please, please, please outlaw leaf blowers in Davis!! —ACA

2010-11-13 01:36:49   What we love about Davis: You play some music in the back yard, and the police show up and shut you down. Those same people who call the police then show up at the city council meeting and scream that some people are taking away their "right" to have leaf blowers run all around the neighborhood. In my neighborhood there are several single-story apartments. They have different owners, which means different grounds-keepers, and they each operate on a different day (by law!), so for 3 hours/day on 3 days of the week it's so loud I can't hear myself think and can't get anything done. It is effectively taking away half my life. I say burn the leaf blowers. —SteveDavison

2010-11-13 23:08:51   Lets also ban lawn mowers too. They are noisy and polluting too. May as well ban all gardening equipment. Lets go back to pulling grass by hand or cutting them with a pair of scissors. Whos with me. —SimonFung

2010-11-18 17:02:55   Leaf blowers are another manifestation of the Meta-system. We're doomed. —Flokkenfisch

2010-11-23 08:53:05   Dreadful things. I live downtown and hear at least one of them from 7AM-9PM daily. I've lived in West Hollywood previously, which is a vibrant and generally noisy place. It's quieter than Davis. —sjoe

2010-11-28 14:07:35   I support this because my apartment complex landscapers think it's necessary to blow leaves around most weekday mornings (and occasionally on weekends). Seriously guys, if you can't stand the leaves that much you should remove the trees and replace them with plastic ones.... —gynomight

2010-11-28 23:09:30   If anyone wants to take the time to summarize the findings, the EPA did a study on leaf-blowers and vacuums' effect on particulates: [WWW]

2010-12-02 04:30:01   Why does Davis folk always like to stick it to the working man? So all these landscaping companies will have to purchase more equipment. Not to mention worse equipment at that. Electric is rarely as good as gas powered when it comes to landscaping equipment. So you are now going to be costing these guys more money in a horrible economy, then it will take them longer to work. Then when it takes them longer to work it will cost us the consumer more. So in a bad economy we all now have to fork over more money. Morons... —Dozer

2010-12-07 14:47:15   I don't live in Davis, but I just wondered if CSO's (combined sewer overflows)are a problem there. Leaves blocking storm-drains are problematic and might present points for both sides of this issue to consider. —amandamurphy

2010-12-08 12:46:35   Okay I have 2 points to make:

1) Are we going to ban vacuum cleaners too? They can get pretty annoying if your neighbors are using them at annoying hours. Can we ban loud cars too? I live on a corner next to a 4 way stop sign intersection and we get people driving past at all hours of the day and night blasting loud music, and also driving loud cars just to prove that they can drive loud cars (i.e. being douchebags).

2) I raked my entire lawn in like half an hour the other night, and I made 4 HUGE piles of leaves on the curb. I took breaks to play with my rubber band airplane between raking and I still got it done pretty fast. It was not difficult. Also, I did it at midnight. Could you do that with a leaf blower? No, your neighbors would kill you.

In summary: Quit yer bitchin'. Who cares if you can use a leaf blower or not? —JenniferCook

2010-12-14 18:38:47   I think this comic is suddenly relevant.

[WWW] (Note: Due to language, the comic might not be work safe—PeteB)

Obviously I agree with the anti-leaf-blower crowd (and I agree with the author of the comic). I would support banning. —srbarb

2011-01-21 09:36:13   I so am for banning them. I have to deal with a gas powered one at work which stinks up the office, with the doors and windows closed. My landlord is also a leaf blower which it seems he comes every single day to use. If we can't outlaw them can we at least make them be electric and only used during certain hours and days of the week. —KimCornwell

2011-01-24 12:38:33   go rakes! —tneeley

  So where is the actual leadership here? I see nothing on the FB page on petitions, talking to city council etc. (I myself haven't had much luck with talking to/contacting the city council, I guess they are busy) Getting more and more tired of my 7AM alarm clock now that I work full time night shifts. —Sjoe

2011-03-24 16:36:52   I landscaped for 9 years in this town...Even bringing this kinda stuff up is why everyone in the world hates Davis so much. We should strive to be more normal instead of this BS, freaky-deaky BS we always seem to be entrenched in. What a pantload of with you uptight losers...just deal with the leaf blowing reality of modern day life... —JoshLawson

2011-05-02 17:30:23   For those involved in favor of a partial ban, visit the Davisites for Less Noise and Particulate Pollution facebook site: [WWW] we just posted a potential plan to tackle this issue through compromise. —amesguich

2013-04-30 10:05:47   With the wind gaining prominence in Davis, all leaf blowers should get the day off on windy days (and still be paid). ☁☁☁ —ConstantiaOomen

2014-12-02 09:10:59   Despite the pouring rain today, city workers are still leaf blowing downtown. It doesn't seem to be effective. —ToddKaiser

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