Banning leaf-blowers

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Davis is a wonderful community with a vibrant ["downtown"] scene and ["people" 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. (citations?)

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..
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.
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Davis is a wonderful community with a vibrant ["downtown"] scene and ["people" 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. (citations?)

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..
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.

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. Arguments In Favor of Banning Leaf-Blowers
    1. Responses to Points in Favor
  2. Arguments Against Banning Leaf-Blowers
    1. Responses to Arguments Against
  3. Alternate/Personal/Silly Solutions
    1. Related Issues

Arguments In Favor of Banning Leaf-Blowers

dust.jpg

Re: allergies

Re: Businesses, cars

Re: Other communities that enacted a ban

Arguments Against Banning Leaf-Blowers

  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.

  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).

  9. 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.

  10. Responses to Arguments Against

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

Comments:

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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 time...you 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]http://www.nonoise.org/quietnet/cqs/other.htm 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. www.ocgrandjury.org/pdfs/leafblow.pdf

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.


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. (citations?)

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..
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.

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