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.
There are several types of portable leaf blowers:
- 2-cycle gasoline/oil engine
- 4-cycle gasoline engine
- Corded electric
- Cordless electric
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.
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 (http://www.noiseoff.org/document/cepa.report.pdf 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 (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 (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)
- http://www.eswr.com/docs/tfea/goc_vegeffects.pdf Ozone's effects on vegetation (excerpts from EPA ozone rule; Abt Associates technical paper; and comments by Dr. Ellis Cowling of NC State)
- http://isebindia.com/05_08/07-04-5.html "Effect and Risk Assessment of Ozone Air Pollution on Forest Vegetation in Switzerland"
- Also see EPA final rule on ozone and final rule on nonroad spark-ignition engines (linked below).
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: http://www.eswr.com/docs/tfea/goc_nrcozone_summary.pdf (link to summary). Press release: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12198.
"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: http://download.nap.edu/cart/download.cgi?&record_id=12198&free=1
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. http://www.eswr.com/docs/tfea/blowersagin.htm 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."
- Steve, you've provided a lot of documentation about the health effects of O3 which I don't think anyone disputes. Have you provided any quantitative information on the relationship between leaf blowers (in Davis or in general) and O3? All I noticed was the conclusory statement, "Fact: Leaf blowers emit nitrogen oxides and Volatile Organic Compounds." I don't think anyone would dispute that. What you didn't address is the significance of their contribution to the O3 problem which seems to be the basis of your argument. So, how significant is that contribution? Do leaf-blowers contribute 10% of the anthropogenic nitrogen oxides and VOCs with which we have to contend? If so, a ban would presumably have a major impact. On the other hand, if they contribute 0.0001%, the ban would presumably have a de minimis effect on the ground-level O3 problem, rendering the entire issue irrelevant. —TomGarberson
More links (from SteveDavies):
- http://www.eswr.com/docs/tfea My page of links for Takoma Park (Md.) Task Force on Environmental Action report
- http://www.eswr.com/docs/tfea/aqweb.htm Air quality chapter from Takoma Park (Md.) Task Force on Environmental Action rerport, 2010
- http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2008-03-27/html/E8-5645.htm EPA final rule on ozone
- http://www.eswr.com/docs/tfea/goc_cog_noxvoctables.pdf Top Ten Sources of NOx and VOCs in Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Lawn-care equipment is #2 for VOCs, #4 for NOx
- http://www.erj.ersjournals.com/cgi/content/full/19/4/699 "The effect of air pollution on inner-city children with asthma" (Mortimer, et al., European Respiratory Journal 2002)
- http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1440792 "How Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke, Outdoor Air Pollutants, and Increased Pollen Burdens Influences the Incidence of Asthma" (Gilmour, et al., Environmental Health Perspectives 2006 April; 114(4): 627–633.)
- http://www.eswr.com/docs/tfea/goc_noxhealtheffects.pdf Health Effects of NOx (EPA report, 2008)
- http://www.eswr.com/docs/tfea/nonroad_finalrule.pdf "Control of Emissions From Nonroad Spark-Ignition Engines and Equipment; Final Rule" (10/8/2008). Excerpt: "The standards would reduce exposure to hydrocarbon, CO and NOX emissions and help avoid a range of adverse health effects associated with ambient ozone and PM2.5 levels. In addition, the proposed standards would help reduce exposure to CO, air toxics, and PM2.5 for persons who operate or who work with or are otherwise active in close proximity to these engines. As described below, the reductions in PM and ozone from the standards are expected to result in significant reductions in premature deaths and other serious human health effects, as well as other important public health and welfare effects."
- Article about L.A. Ban - found an increase of approximately 50% in the time it took landscapers to care for a yard by hand, vs. with a blower.
- Existing City of Davis regulations
- Davisites for Less Noise and Particle Pollution Facebook Group
- Other cities' regulations
- Article about L.A. Ban
- The October 25, 2010 issue of The New Yorker featured an article presenting both sides of the issue in California generally and Orinda specifically. Unfortunately, a subscription is required to read the entire piece.
- 2009 WSJ article about, in part, advancements in leaf-blower noise and pollution standards
- A little history of leafblowers
Arguments In Favor of Banning Leaf-Blowers
- There is a Facebook page concerning this issue. They plan to use "Likes" on the Facebook page to push the city council to regulate leaf blowers more. Do your part to help Keep Davis Boring! (WTF? How are leafblowers associated with fun? What is boring about not having a leaf blower wake you up after a night of drinking?)
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.
Responses to Points in Favor
- I never used to have allergies before Davis and allergies are not coming from leaf-blowers, they are coming from good old Mother Nature. There's a little thing called the wind and in Davis' dry atmosphere it picks up a lot of dust and pollen. —hankim
- RE Well anecdotes shouldn't be used when trying to argue points since they are notoriously unreliable. You should consider instead doing research. Doing a quick google search I was able to find several people claiming there was a Lung Association study on the subject. So instead of take what they say as the truth I did the foot work and looked it up for everyone ( http://www.lungusa.org/associations/states/new-york/pressroom/assets/op-eds-and-letters-to-newspaper-editors/leaf-blower-bans-aid-air.pdf ) and they have concluded that it is a source of air pollution. Just consider how the piece of machinery operations, of course it is kicking up pollutants into our air which could be damaging to our health - its not rocket science. This does not discount that fact that Davis already does have a lot of allergens due to wind pollinated trees such as Walnut - but that doesn't mean that the blowers do not contribute. ~~~upisdown
- Did you include the wrong link here? That pdf doesn't offer any information on any remotely relevant Lung Association study (I don't think a "State of the Air" report for Westchester County finding that it's smoggy fits the bill). It's an opinion piece that doesn't even make any real causal claims. —TomGarberson
- How is it not relevant? It is a superior of the Lung Association confirming their organization has drawn connections between leaf blowers contribute to air pollution. Here is an article on the specifics: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10132/1057366-109.stm written by two people in related fields describing the results of the Lung Assocation report.
- I didn't say the piece wasn't relevant, I said it doesn't offer information on a relevant Lung Association study. Because, again, there's no study on health effects cited there, there's detailed information on health effects, and there are certainly no causal claims. —tg
Re: Businesses, cars
- I see someone sweeping up the leaves in front of Steve's Pizza each morning. Let businesses make their own decisions. And for cars, the leaves and dust do not bother me as much as the tree sap. At least the rain washes off the leaves and dust, but the tree sap never leaves even after heavy scrubbing and commercial removers (might need to actually bother getting a buff and wax at some point), but you don't see me telling the city that we should burn the trees down! No wait...—hankim
- RE It is not always wise to let businesses make their own decisions when it comes to the environment because we all share it. We should be careful when we allow businesses to cut corners to increase profits at the cost of all of our health. It is completely rational and shows foresight to use our local politics to make wise decisions to protect our environment. ~~~upisdown
Re: Other communities that enacted a ban
- Sunnyvale has some nice parts of it, but I know for a fact that Los Altos and Palo Alto are very expensive neighborhoods to live in, so what might work over there might now work in most neighborhoods. —hankim
- RE You seem to be making a few logical fallacies here, you seem to be suggesting that because Sunnyvale and has no blowers and that it is expensive, so having no blowers means an area is expensive. Therefore if Davis has no blowers it will be expensive. First of all Davis is expensive, and second it is incredibly misleading to suggest that having no blowers is the only factor in the price of housing. The fact that Davis is in the middle of nowhere and the area you mentioned is near the Bay would probably be a bigger factor than leaf blowing. ~~~upisdown
- I think that the implication is that it is a preexisting expensive neighborhood, so the people who live there might be more inclined to pay a premium for the same service. I can guarantee that Davis is not populated by as affluent of people as Sunnyvale (median household income in Sunnyvale is ~$88,000, as opposed to $42,000 in Davis). —JoePomidor
- Many are not affluent in Sunnyvale. Sunnyvale has a number of mobile home parks (Google it).
- I don't think people in mobile home parks will be overly affected by a leaf blower ban. Beyond that, the median income is still very high, which means for every person making, say, $42,000/yr in a mobile home park, there is some other household in the city making $134,000. Popular approval does not mean that everyone agreed, just enough to make it happen.
- Right — so you are proving the point. A high median can include a lot of variance. The existence of mobile home parks was just one way of showing that. I was just responding to the claim that Sunnyvale is affluent; the truth is that parts are and parts aren't.
- Exactly how is any of this relevant? It all still assumes that only rich people can afford a ban on using gas powered blowers to move leaves around. It implies there is only one solution and it is costly. That assumption is wrong - there are not only two possible outcomes.
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 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
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.
Is the city going to buy everyone's newly-prohibited gas leaf-blowers if they're too loud to operate legally?
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
Responses to Arguments Against
"Re: As fun as it is to be Authoritarian..."
Ignoring that this is a poorly disguised ad hom, we do not live in a libertarian paradise without any regulation. Regulation exist and with good cause, because we do not all live on our own private islands where our actions only effect ourselves. We live in a community where the actions of one on the environment effect everyone around them. This is the entire reason humans decided on creating a civilization and government, so that we can create rules and regulations which we believe are fair, protect the community and benefit the most people at a time. Local government is a rare thing in the sense that you have more power because the number of voters is so much smaller than national elections - so rules created by this system are a result of the closest you will ever get to real democracy and to suggest that is authoritarian is ignorant.
There have been many necessary regulations put in place to protect the environment because business are not obligated to protect the environment, they are simply obligated to increase profits for share holders. So in our system it is completely rational for them to disregard long term environmental damage for short term profit. That is why we have the checks of regulation against business, so that we can use our foresight to determine long term problems and try to prevent them from happening. Because the profit corporations make on the environment effects everyone. ~~~upisdown
- You're putting the cart before the horse. If you want to sell people on the idea, you're going to want to make a case for the notion that leaf blowers are doing some sort of harm before suggesting that they need to be regulated. People disagreeing with the ban are doing so, for the most part, because no one advocating the ban has offered any evidence that it causes any sort of harm beyond mild annoyance. "Necessary regulations" to "protect the environment" are one thing. But if you want to use those lines in this context, you first need to establish 1) harm to the environment; 2) that banning leaf-blowers (particularly just gas ones, as advocated here) would prevent that harm; and 3) there's not another, less restrictive way to prevent the harm. Otherwise, the regulation is neither necessary, nor is it protecting the environment. —TomGarberson
- So you are saying using fossil fuel powered equipment to break up natural ecological processes of recapturing nutrients does not have an effect on the environment? Are you kidding me? Maintaining lawns is incredibly energy costly - and any steps to making this practice more expensive will encourage people to adopt lawns which better reflect the climate they live in - such as drought resistant lawns in deserts. Can I assume you believe in global warming? Also your claim of putting the cart before the horse is wrong, because I was making a rebuttal to the suggestion that regulation is an act monopolized by authoritarian governments (Which was trying to clearly draw negative associations with from authoritarian governments in history; nice use of emotion) . I had to only prove that there are rational reasons for regulation - I had no obligation to argue that leaf blowers was one of them - but I did earlier in this paragraph for your sake. Cheers.
- First, let's differentiate between "regulation" as a generalization and this regulation. The point to which you responded was criticizing this proposal for regulation, specifically because of the perception that the true underlying motivation is that some people find leaf-blowers annoying. Second, you're getting pretty far off base here. If you want to ban non-native plants in landscaping, you're welcome to argue for it, but it has nothing to do with leaf-blowers. And third, the global warming argument is pretty darned broad, and ignores the fact that in the past 15 years, the EPA has put regulations in place mandating an 87% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions and an 80% reduction in NOx emissions in leaf-blowers and other gas-powered gardening equipment. There's serious mitigation being done. If you want to argue that it's not enough, that's fine. But broad, sweeping claims that you don't even tie to this specific issue in a meaningful way don't add anything to the page. —TomGarberson
"RE: Is the city going to buy the leaf blowers?"
- No. Why should they? I don't see how this is an argument against to be honest, it just seems like a poorly thought out question. If you believe in capitalism you should look at this as the market punishing companies for making investments which the citizens think are poor. They should not have invested in to unsustainable technologies and they most certainly should not be compensated for it.
- A ban on leaf blowers is not a market effect. Many people in Davis have invested in lawful, practical equipment for home improvement which you are saying should no longer be lawful to use. It's taking away a right and, in a practical sense, it's taking away property.
- How's regulating gas powered leaf blowers the same as taking them away from you? You're allowed to possess firearms in Davis city limits, however you're not allowed to discharge them within city limits and yet, no one has taken them away from you. Please reconsider the above claim as the tenuous logical leap is not justified.
"RE: There is no non-anecdotal proof that they contribute to asthma "
- This is either an out right lie or a lack of research because there is and the research was done by the Lung Association. It seems there is only anecdotal evidence saying there is no problem. You should consider doing research before typing with such certainty. Doing a quick google search I was able to find several people claiming there was a Lung Association study on the subject. So instead of take what they say as the truth I did the foot work and looked it up for everyone ( http://www.lungusa.org/associations/states/new-york/pressroom/assets/op-eds-and-letters-to-newspaper-editors/leaf-blower-bans-aid-air.pdf ) and they have concluded that it is a source of air pollution. Just consider how the piece of machinery operations, of course it is kicking up pollutants into our air which could be damaging to our health - its not rocket science. —upisdown
- You're citing to an op-ed (translation: opinion/editorial) piece that makes no health claims, much less causal claims, much less causal claims that in any way invoke a scientific study. —TomGarberson
"RE: Apartments will pass along the costs"
- First of all you are assuming that there would have to be additional costs. Instead of paying landscapers apartments could use the grass areas to plant community gardens - apartment complexes have MANY options. You are suggesting that we have two options: expensive apartments with no blowers or cheap apartments with blowers. That clearly is a false assessment of the possible situations. In fact the legislators could add provisions to protect landowners from doing that. This is local politics, your say has more of an effect on this than any other form of governmental politics. You could always voice your concern and try to help shape the law. —upisdown
- This is a practical discussion. There are dozens of apartment complexes in Davis with grass areas, trees, etc. The cost of replacing all of that would be substantial. There's also the fact that some people like having grass areas. What you're suggesting again has little to do with the proposal to ban leaf-blowers and its effects on real-world Davis. It's a side issue.
- Why are we still maintaining lawns anyways? What is the obsession with old European standards of landscape beauty which are clearly unsustainable in our environment since we don't have the same climate these rules were developed.
"RE: We already have noise violation laws"
- That still does not address the health concerns. Or environmental concerns from use of oil.
- What "health concerns"? There hasn't been any information provided on this page which suggests they're anything more than concerns. If there were serious data supporting a causal link between leaf-blowers and significant health problems, opponents of a ban would be approaching this very differently. Many people's negative reaction is due to the fact that the principal reason for banning blowers appears to be dislike. No one has added any actual information on health effects, making that point seem suspiciously like pretense. —TomGarberson
"RE: A Ban on leaf blowers could affect electric blowers"
- This is local politics. Your voice is more significant here than on any other level of government. If you are afraid to ban gas blowers because electric blowers are good you could voice this and affect the policy. However using this as a way to protect gas blowers is disingenuous. —upisdown
- This is a straw man. No one made a claim that "a ban on leaf blowers could effect electric blowers."
"RE: Raking can be bad for certain plants"
Well removing leaf litter in general is bad for plants (Unless it is blocking light). This material would normally be broken down and then reused by the plant. Using incredible amounts of energy to move this leaf litter to a different area to be decomposed so it can be wrapped up in plastic and shipped back to be used as soil amendment is wasteful. Leaf blowers also have negative impacts of plants by removing potentially beneficial insects or pollinators. —upisdown
hmmm I think that specific point was aimed at parts of the arbo where we are talking about exposed root systems, in that case I don't think wet decaying biologically active stuff on top of them is necessarily the best thing for them...
- Please cite research backing the above claim that leaf matter harms exposed root systems. Otherwise, remove the claim.
"RE: Bans would prevent the elderly from working on their own landscapes"
- So wait you are saying old people can carry heavy engines on their backs and blow leaves around but they cant lift a rake? This is just absurd. You are really grasping. Maybe they should keep landscaping they are capable of taking care of, or talk to neighbors to get help or pay people. We shouldn't continence trump our collective space. —upisdown
- Most leaf-blowers weigh between 2.7 and 5.5kg (source), and many have a shoulder strap or something of the sort. They don't require bending or pulling. They have a minimal effect on balance, unlike raking. They can be used from wheel chairs or walkers. The same cannot be said of a rake.
- 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, would be laughable if it weren't so ridiculous —SteveDavies
"RE: But leaves make mulch and compost"
- Using incredible amounts of energy to move this leaf litter to a different area to be decomposed so it can be wrapped up in plastic and shipped back to be used as soil amendment is wasteful. There are much better alternatives. Reading through your reasoning I question if you are able to see more than two possibilities for any given problem.upisdown
- Another straw man. The point on the list to which you're responding refers to leaf vacuuming for composting/mulching in your own yard. Additionally, you're mistaken in assuming that the arguments against a ban are the reasoning of any one person.
- There's no indication that the leaves are even leaving the property, why would you make that assumption? There are plenty of people who work on their own yards with their own equipment. Beyond that, why do you feel a need to revert to ad hom attacks? You can respond to an argument without insulting the person making it.
"Re: "Leaf blowers allow for a quick, harmless way of maintaining such areas."
- 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.
Don't know where to put this data, but here is a list of cities that have leaf blower bans (found 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).
- Mow the leaves into the lawn. here's an article about the benefits
- Current corded electric mowers are quite inexpensive and powerful enough to mulch. Battery powered are more expensive, but may be better for some yard layouts (if you have many trees in the middle of your lawn, etc). They are also very quiet (like a box fan on "high"), to the point you can chat with somebody as you mow.
- Burn down all the trees in Davis. No trees, no leaves.
- Bring in a bunch of giraffes to eat the leaves before they fall to the ground.
- Find a way to get rid of the planet's gravity so that leaves will not fall to the ground.
- Dress all the leaves in town in tiny little t-shirts that read "Hang Tight" and hope they are inspired.
- Bring in robots to dispose of the giraffes after they eat the leaves.
- Build leaf tunnels for them to safely leave town.
- Stage a protest after gathering signatures.
- Bring in zombies to tear apart the robots.
- Declare Stephen Souza's mustache a leaf sanctuary and herd them there.
- Feed them to the ducks in the arboretum. Wait, no. That's bad.
- Follow the Zombie Attack Response Guide to deal with the zombies.
- Spray superglue from low flying airplanes. The leaves stick to the trees, the mosquitoes stick to the leaves, everybody is happy.
- Complain about how there weren't leaves falling before Borders/Target/Trader Joe's was opened.
- Genetically engineer square leaves that can be stacked.
- Three words: Leaf Flavored Froyo
- Make Downtown suck more so that all the leaves will blow out of the neighborhoods and accumulate downtown.
- How? I don't see any possibly ways. — MM
- Make sure there is enough money for the alternate solutions.
- Replace all real trees with fake tree cellphone towers, removing leaf problem and guaranteeing good cellphone reception. Wellman still won't have reception, though.
- Banning gas-powered lawnmowers because they pollute and are noisy.
- Yeah let's follow the way of North Korea and do it all by hand :) http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=YZAp7gWWANI&feature=related
Godwin's Law but with a North Korean slant. Please explain how banning leaf blowers is the same as being like North Korea. (false equivalency, and quite ridiculous to boot)
- Banning street-sweeping vehicles because they are noisy and they kick up smelly wet dust everywhere harming the poor bikers stuck behind them.
- Banning babies as they are loud, annoying, and environmentally unfriendly. (Already done in some seniors only neighborhoods.)
- Banning chopper motorcycles because they are loud (Passed in CA in 2010, signed by Arnold.)
- Banning dogs in Davis that bark and crap on my lawn because they are annoying too. (There is a law requiring people to clean up after their dogs, but inconsiderate owners are not following it).
- Banning air conditioners because neighbors leave them on 24/7 during the summer and I can't sleep with my window open due to the noise.
- Banning trains from coming through because they are loud. (Well trains serve a very different purpose than leaf blowers.)
- Re-banning being annoying.
- This is just one of the many proposed bans in Davis
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 —PeterBoulay
- I agree. If you really care about leaf-blowers this much, pay your gardener extra to use a rake or petition your complex to pay their maintenance people extra to rake the property (have fun with increases to rent). Hell, take it up with your homeowners' association. If a specific neighborhood wants to ban leaf-blowers, go right on ahead. Unless of course, that is too much trouble for you and you would prefer the government to force everyone to go your way? —hankim
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
- Again this is ludicrous and I'll support those who oppose this. I spoke to 5 lawn maintenance folks working our street today and all of them absolutely laughed at this idea. They raking takes them a lot more then 10% extra time....—PeterBoulay
- Then they should all charge by their time spent rather than by the job. If it were outlawed then all of the maintenance folks would be in the same boat and none would have an advantage over the others. And you know what? It would be healthier for them, too. —CovertProfessor
- The problem with charging by time spent is that when it comes to things like raking leaves, people would be paid the same no matter how productive or efficient they actually are. Jobs that are salary-based usually require people to finish tasks by a certain deadline and they might even end up finishing work overnight in order to keep their jobs. If someone were to be paid by the hour for raking leaves, taking two hours to finish the job would be more beneficial for the worker (promoting inefficiency). In a system that pays for a task finished, it is most beneficial for the worker to finish up and move on to the next client as quickly as possible (promoting efficiency). —hankim
- Customers are not willing to pay by the hour. They want monthly contracts. —DonShor
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
- Right. It's got nothing to do with being able to think while I'm working at home or being able to walk down the street without having my eardrums assaulted, nor is it about watching people waste gas when they could be using less fuel with an electric blower (still loud, but less loud) or using a — gasp! — rake. —CovertProfessor
- the ban? it has nothing to do with that really. It has to do with percieved property values. I don't use one, and I'm not going to start. But this sort of government regualtion of activity is not based on actual harm to people. If actual harm is the question, there are ways to reduce and eliminate the use of gas powered blowers that do not require a city ordinance. rocksanddirt
- Well, I don't even see the connection between leaf blowers and property values. What I do see, and experience practically every day, is the noise and dust from the infernal things. What's your evidence that this is really about property values? And if there are other ways to reduce the harms, why not mention them? —cp
- Sorry—I'm in a wheelchair and can't use a rake. I'll continue to use my gas-powered blower. Electric cables can get tangled in my chair. —PeterBoulay
- Use cordless leafblowers, they don't have cables, pollute less both air and noise, and are lighter than gas-powered ones: http://tinyurl.com/39zmvgm —amesguich
- So, the effect on your hearing and others' hearing — the effects on others' asthma and allergies — the use of gas — none of these bother you? The leaves are that oppressive? —CovertProfessor
CP- no… it is not the leaves… Oppressive is your attempt to dictate what I do in my own back yard or how I spend my money.
- So in your view of the universe we all live on these separate islands where our actions don't affect each other? You don't believe you share the environment with everyone else and everyone yet to be born?
- Downright dictatorial, in fact! —TomGarberson
I also await the data that demonstrates they have affected any residents hearing, asthma, and allergies (sure some of it is intuitive if you are trying to damage yourself). While at times they can be annoying I agree (just as dogs crapping on my lawn and inconsiderate Davis dog owners not cleaning it up), they do serve a purpose for which raking isn't practical. Also wet leaves on pavement and sidewalks in the fall are a hazard and liability. My alternative is to cut the trees down, thereby eliminating what I considered valuable summer shade— the leaves become unbearable, particularly fruitless mulberries that drop for 4 months.
- No dictatorial, just reasonable regulation to make sure one's freedom do not cross another's freedom. —amesguich
- CP-the leaves get dragged in the house by my dogs (fenced backyard w/ a huge old tree). I prefer not to have a house full of gluey wet leaves if I can help it. As to the sound-I listen to my IPOD. As to my neighbors I live in upstate NY where fall is Damp and wet-dust is not an issue. My neighbors have never complained about our using one. As to the use of gas I don't like to have cables dragging around my wheelchair...this is safer. —PeterBoulay
- Well, Davis has California-sized lawns — tiny by East Coast standards. So, neighbors are very much affected by sound and by particles. And I didn't think you could blow wet leaves anyway, unless you just mean that it is humid where you are. In any case, sounds like things might be different in upstate NY, but this is a page about banning leaf blowers in Davis. I wouldn't recommend playing an iPod loudly as a remedy for a loud leaf blower (you'd be much better off with ear protection), but that's your choice. —cp
- Not to mention the heavy bicycle traffic right next to yards, with bicyclists zipping by with no enclosure. Pedestrians as well. Davis is a very friendly town for those who choose to live without a car, and that kind of changes the balance of what is problematic. The community also, quite frankly, likes to regulate itself legally, with various control or limiting measures. For good or ill, that's simply part of the local ethos. -jw
- Eh, my iPod hardly covers up the noise from the leaf-blowers in the morning. I have to turn on my stereo and turn up the music if I don't want to hear the leaf-blowers. Rude awakening for a college student sometimes. Sigh —ClarenceL
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
- Good question, I looked into this. Our noise regulations cover them if the policeman/policewoman decides it is too loud. But calling the police every other morning seems a bit of a misuse of law-enforcement. —amesguich
- Save money, boycott yard maintenance, rake your own leaves. Or the troll'll get you when you walk over the bridge.—BrianOrr
- People normally hire others to do their work if they can earn more money doing other things in the time it takes to do the work they hire someone else to do (gotta think of the opportunity costs). —hankim
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
I know people who would pay good money for the bottom 6 inches of that slop Daubert
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
- If any, the hike in price will be really small. Maybe a gardener will charge an extra $20 for large apartment complexes -worse case scenario-. This will especially not affect apartment complexes, as the price gets split among the units. Many landlords won't even bother raising the rent any more than they do yearly. In the big picture of what it costs to maintain a building, this price increase, if any is insignificant to the landlord. —amesguich
- $20 per what? Week? Month? Year? Do you have a basis for that figure? Do you know what a normal price is per-worker-hour for landscaping/yard work? I certainly don't, but I assume you have some basis for deciding on the $20 figure.
- According to the article DonShor posted, the gardeners said they would have to charge $50 more a month from the initial price of $75 a month. Your numbers seriously look made-up. —hankim
- Going from 23 to 34 minutes for a standard gardening job is pretty hefty. Proportionally, I would expect to see more like a 50% increase in cost (reflecting the 50% increase in time), or a raise of $30-35 on that base cost. Either way, I think it's hard to argue that the cost is truly "insignificant" or that it wouldn't be passed on to tenants. Whether it's an extra $240 per year (amesguich's figure, assuming (s)he meant monthly) or an extra $600 per year (gardener's estimate), and regardless of your income level, there is a significant cost involved. I wouldn't be surprised if the $20/month extra was a reasonable figure for a renter in an apartment complex. Note that I'm not commenting on whether it's worth the added cost; I'm just saying, it will have an impact on rental costs. —TomGarberson
- You can't speak for many landlords as Davis is not a Rent Control city, nothing stands in their way to exploit this issue financially.—BobBlumenfields
- @hankim: Asked my gardener, he gets paid every two weeks. He said using the rake is just more physical effort, but he would charge around $20 more every two weeks at most. This is in addition to the 4 hours a week he works for us. Also asked the neighbor's gardener, he said no more than $15 more every two weeks. Not nice to assume that people made stuff up. @BB: Not speaking for all landlords, making a reasonable guess. You trying to split hairs. If your landlord raises the rent by more than $100 a year, no matter what I would recommend that you relocate ;) —amesguich
- You did not specify where you got your information from and you did not even mention a time frame. Makes the numbers hard to believe. Also, if you hate leaf-blowers so much, maybe you should start off by having your gardener use a rake first instead of jumping to the conclusion that a ban works for everyone. —hankim
- You can't be sure of that. I had a landlord who wanted to raise rent $150 over a parcel tax of $100ish (I don't remember the exact tax) that he would only pay once that year. Some will eat the cost, others won't. —WilliamLewis
- amesguich: that's nice you asked yours and your neighbor's gardner, I am sure they represent all landscapers. A reasonable guess doesn't start out with "Many landlords won't even bother raising the rent," rather, you start by saying "in my opinion (not an educated guess either, as a hypothesis assumes independent, verifiable, data exists). I am not splitting hairs. I am questioning your reasoning. Who the hell are to you to set a limit at $100; some people live paycheck-to-paycheck, any increase means less food. What, if your mortgage goes up $10, no matter what I would recommend that YOU relocate. It sickens me, the kinds of blase attitude people have towards pricing others out of the market. I sure hope you face foreclosure someday and feel the real value of money. BobBlumenfields
- @BB: I did not write that, read carefully. I said that those are the estimates I got for two large apartment complexes. Why would you attack me personally? I know what increase in costs mean to people. I come from a poor background. But I am paying my rent every month, as well as my taxes, and as you do, I have some rights. One of which is not being exposed to anything more than minimized reasonable noise levels and minimized reasonable levels of pollution. People using their gas leaf-blowers within the existing regulations violates this right, and I am trying to push for compromise. Not attacking individuals' character. —amesguich
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
- Look at the related issues up above. I totally added in banning street sweepers! —hankim
- BB: Read williame's comment above. That also happens to us and many people. I Can't study at home. 4 times a week there is leaf blowers right next to my apartment for over an hour each time. Then biking to campus or work, a couple more lifting dust right in front of me. Plus, no real need for them. Street sweepers are necessary once in a while and can't really be replaced by mop and bucket (be reasonable). That's why banning leaf-blowers. How the specific regulation will go is up to city council. My guess is complete ban on Gas leaf-blowers, and day/time restrictions on electric leaf-blowers; but that's just a guess because that is what almost every city in the bay-area & Sacramento has. —amesguich
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
- Since we don't live in a utopia every person we deal with is not a rational person capable of reason. Or what if they are a business and they have to weight making money or not annoying you - sorry but they are going to choose make a profit every time because you don't pay them and that is completely rational for them to do so. That is the whole point of having local government is so that we can come together and discuss things and try to make policies with foresight that benefit the most people possible.
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
I'll hazard a guess that a city ban on leaf-blowers wouldn't even affect the University unless they wanted to adopt a similar policy to be neighborly. It's very true, though—trying to rake around fragile plants (especially under coastal redwoods... grew up with those in the back yard) is a big challenge. A lot of the time, you might as well do it by hand. —TomGarberson
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 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?
- AnnieOakley: You know when you ask people to do a Google search, you shouldn't expect those people to seek the same confirmation bias you find. Santa Barbra still has people breaking the law, using gas mowers, because of the issues cited above. Cities that have banned blowers are no less air polluted than those without the ban, look at the DATA, those cities have no less asthma-related hospital visits as those without. A ban means a way for local government to extort money by their people by force. Our prison population is already too high, are you advocating to put people behind bars for blowing air? It COSTS money, you advocate to push that cost on others because of YOUR distaste to a loud noise. You wish to enforce behavior through legislation, did prohibition stop people from drinking will a prohibition on gas blowers stop people form using them? No. You just wish to punish people for their market choices, to push people out of a housing market, and for what and for who? Instead of asking people to "search," how about you do your own damn homework and provide evidence. —BobBlumenfields
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
- Ames—get a white noise machine or as Jim said—earplugs. It is not your neighbor's or the gardener's fault that you work nights (I work nights and sleep days-I know how it is). The fact is that the world doesn't operate on your schedule. As to the gardeners ignoring you—I would too-you didn't hire me. Maybe if you paid his bill, he'd be more considerate to your requests. Find the person who pays the bill and have them push the issue. —PeterBoulay
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
- Well written and agreed. —PeterBoulay
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.
- Where to start? First of all, a Grand Jury is hardly any sort of authoritative source. What's the old saying, "a good lawyer can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich"? Grand juries are usually just a bunch of citizens that volunteered for grand jury duty. As to the harm of noise, 2 stroke engines and dust, I spent lots of my youth riding trail bikes an working on farms experiencing all of that. No harm, no issue. Are leaf blowers a bit annoying? Yeah, sure. Are they going to make you sick and deaf? I hardly think so. —jimstewart
- Well written Jim—a voice of reason and sanity. —PeterBoulay
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
- Some of those laws would effectively ban leafblowers: you can only make a motor so quiet, and there's really no way to blow the leaves around without kicking up dust. —JoePomidor
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
- A thick blanket of leaves can easily kill a lawn, and a wet one can turn pavement slippery. Unfortunately, we live in an unnatural world, so there are some aspects that natural solutions simply cannot address.—JoePomidor
- Perhaps there should be a movement to ban lawns... —SteveDavison
- That's not uncommon, especially in locales that lack a sufficient supply of water. What tends to actually be passed are something along the line of tax credits for not having a lawn and using xeriscaping (the Wikipedia article is a bit misleading — xeriscaping in Florida, for instance, means lots of ferns and moss; there's loads of water available, you're just trying to avoid constant irrigation due to the traditional flat grass lawn's tendency to lose water). Davis has the creepy/wonderful moist valley soil, so I don't know how xeriscaping would look locally; Don might know. -jw
- http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/improve-soil-rake-less.aspx Of course, to achieve the proper pulverizing of the leaves, you'll have to use a power mower. But the leaves themselves are not harmful if reincorporated naturally in most cases. Walnut leaves may be an exception. In most cases leaves could be allowed to naturally decompose on site, rather than being hauled off to landfills. —DonShor
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
- Absolutely. But many, even in the People's Republic of Davis, feel that excessive regulation of an individual's activities is striking the wrong balance when it comes to those interests. Davis has a long history of excessive regulation. See, for example, the recently repealed, unconstitutional Davis Municipal Code/26.01.010 which prohibited being annoying. As you said, there are certain restrictions that come with living in a a city. But there are also certain annoyances inherent in such places with which we all must live. Those seeking to live in peaceful silence probably shouldn't move to a community with more than 60,000 people, criss-crossed by two freeways, train tracks, and numerous major roads, and home to a bustling economy and major university. Leaf-blowers are being targeted here because people find them annoying. Hell, I find them annoying, too. But sometimes, the right solution is not to ban the things that are annoying. —TomGarberson
- Hey Tom—I'm annoyed by the train tracks behind my house...even though I chose to live here I think we should ban them. (/sarcasm off)
- Well trains are not really comparable to gas powered blowers considering they have entirely different purposes. There seems like quite a bit of circle jerking going on in a few of these comment threads.
By the way leaves are recycled into fertilizer when our town takes them away. PeterBoulay
- Technically, DWR chips and composts all green waste, not just leaves. Kind of a pain when the wind hits them, as they don't allow bags. I remember seeing 8th just east of Pole Line carpeted with leaves because it was windy just before they did pickup. -jw
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
Get a pet goat to eat the grass, and you can milk it for your antibiotic-free dairy! 2 for 1.
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: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/conference/ei15/session5/fitz.pdf —TomGarberson
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
- BRAVO!!! Well written!!! —PeteB
- You do realize that loud cars are banned, right? (And for good reason - read the municipal code) —Sjoe
- Yup they would however I would like to point out MY experiences raking. I lived in a house where I was subletting for a few months with my dog. The tree in the backyard was a nuisance in that the leaves were obscenely STICKY. Raking was a god-awful pain because half the time the leaves were stuck to the rake and I would have to remove them. Cutting down the tree was not an option. Know what did get the leaves up in 1/10th of the time? The gardening service that used a leaf blower that came once a week. Oh and people who are bitching might also be folk who really don't have even half an hour to spare in their weeks because they are working two jobs or people have already spent a great deal of money to buy their leaf blower. I would imagine considering the investment, the latter would very much "Care" if they can use a leaf blower. —OliviaY
2010-12-14 18:38:47 I think this comic is suddenly relevant.
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 crap...deal with you uptight losers...just deal with the leaf blowing reality of modern day life... —JoshLawson
^^^^^^^^ BOOM my man, how is a brother supposed to run a route if they can't mowblowgo???? Daubert
^^^^^^^^^"Landscaped" is past-tense...That's good. "Even bringing this kinda stuff up is why everyone in the world hates Davis so much." Hyperbole much? "We should strive to be more normal instead of this BS" Ah yes. More pollution means more normal. Got it. "just deal with the leaf blowing reality of modern day life..." Or the mercury poisoning of modern day life, or lead gasoline, or lead paint, or...oh wait...we figured out that stuff isn't good for us so we banned it. Boo hoo. I want my lead back!!!!!! There's no way the above comment is serious.
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: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Davisites-LNPP/122631437795225 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