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Clearing a path

Original post made on Nov 13, 2007

Todd Feinberg uses his battery-powered leaf blower on Harriet Street in Palo Alto Monday to clear a sidewalk littered with fallen leaves. Photo by Norbert von der Groeben/Palo Alto Online.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 13, 2007, 9:48 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by Steven Feinberg, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 13, 2007 at 11:33 am

As his Dad, I am so proud! SDF

Posted by Raker, a resident of Ventura
on Nov 13, 2007 at 11:53 am

And we'd be more proud if he used a rake, to minimize global climate change!

Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 11:59 am

He is also violating a City ordinance that prohibits blowing your leaves into the street or onto the sidewalk. Text of ordinance is below.

9.48.040 Discarding rubbish, dirt, leaves, debris or discarded material on streets or other public or private properties.

No person shall put, place, sweep, throw, brush, blow or in any other manner deposit any rubbish, dirt, leaves, debris or discarded material of any kind or character upon any sidewalk, street, alley, gutter or other place in the city, nor shall any person throw, sweep, blow or brush any rubbish, paper sweepings, leaves or dirt from any residence or other building or grounds onto any sidewalk, street or alley or onto any other public or private property without authorization.

Posted by R Wray, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:04 pm

I hope he picks up those leaves he blew in the street; otherwise he is breaking the law.

Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Richard's post came in while I was writing mine.

Posted by Jim, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:12 pm

Give the kid a break. At least he's doing some semi-manual labor.

I use my battery-powered electric blower to sweep leaves. I blow everything from the sidewalk to the street into the street (yes, I know, not PC), then I blow everything else into my back yard, where I rake it up. Arrest me, if you want.

Posted by Judy, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Why isn't he using a rake? And he could pick up the leaves with two wooden boards. This picture sets a very poor example for the rest of Palo Alto.

Posted by Arrest them both, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff].

Posted by Jim, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Forgot to mention: Those Black & Decker battery powered leaf blowers are the tits! Can be had for about $100 (including extra rechargeable batteries).

Posted by Rachel, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:55 pm

Are you people kidding me? I agree with Jim, at least he is trying! For a moment this morning, I had forgotten that I live in the snooty Bay Area where "Nothing is ever good enough". I thank most of you for reminding me. No wonder people from other areas think we are snooty.

And Judy, really, 2 wooden boards??? That sounds like a nightmare.

Posted by Danny, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:56 pm

You are all assuming quite a bit based on one still photo. First of all, we're in the 21st Century here folks. A battery-powered blower is much more practical and effective than a rake. Also, making assumptions and calling for someone who is cleaning the sidewalk to be jailed is absurd. Trust me, he followed the city ordinance to a T, but you all are seeing a snapshot (prior to removing the leaves from the street) and making bold and inappropriate assertions based on one still photograph. Are you the same people who would see a picture of an Elvis impersonator and immediately assume it's ACTUALLY Elvis?

Makes me sad to be a part of this city to read comments like this. You all should be ashamed of yourselves.

Posted by blow em into the street, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2007 at 1:03 pm

I dunno, Danny. It looks like the neighbor across the street does the same thing. Look how clean their yard is and the line of leaves along the curb. This is more than a snapshot in time before all the leaves are cleared from the street. This is a habit that's widespread across the city.

Posted by Danny, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2007 at 1:07 pm

I was once assaulted and robbed at gunpoint. THAT was an offense worth arresting someone for. Clearing leaves off of a city sidewalk? Please. Let's put this into perspective.

Posted by FYI, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2007 at 1:13 pm

The building across the street is the Children's library. Therefore, it looks like the city is out of compliance too!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2007 at 2:44 pm

I know of one home where the owner uses a hose almost daily to squirt the leaves off their property. This is also a waste of water.

Posted by Geoff, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 13, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Snooty? Ha! No, sorry, snooty would be "What, only a little electric Black&Decker? That's nothing compared to the <insert more powerful blower> that my landscaper uses! Too bad he can't afford a landscaper like mine!"

I'd agree that arresting the fellow is a bit overboard, but it rather makes me happy to see that there are others around here that are aware of such wastes, too. Certainly, there are bigger things to be concerned with at this time, but the little things add up too (and we have to start somewhere), and what's wrong with a rake/broom and pan? What, you might break a sweat or something?

Blowing leaves around (without picking them up) only makes one's lawn look "nice" for a while, while the leaves are left to blow into your neighbors' (or back onto your own) lawn, clog the gutter drains, create hazards for bicyclists, etc., at the cost of the electricity (or in other cities, gasoline) it takes to run these blowers. Rather absurd, in my opinion.

No, I don't think the folks were snooty. Just trying to raise awareness, which is not a bad thing.

Posted by trudy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2007 at 3:47 pm

I believe if the leaves are from a city tree, i.e. one in the sidewalk area, he can indeed legally blow them into the street.

That said, congrats on the electric leaf blower. Next step, use a rake instead and use the leaves as either mulch or in a compost piles.

Posted by Many ways, a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 13, 2007 at 4:08 pm

I use a rake on my grass, an electric blower on my rock garden (the rake won't work there), a broom on my roof, and the leaves get scooped into my yard waste bin as my compost pile is already quite large. There are many methods of dealing with all of this.

It is also true that the shape of curbs tends to collect street-fallen windblown leaves, so one cannot assume a line of leaves in the street gutter always equals scofflaws at work.

Posted by Todd, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 13, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Hi, I'm the guy in the picture.

The leaves came from city tree located between the sidewalk and the street. I did gather up most of the leaves and put them into the recycling bin. I do have a landscaper. He worked on Saturday morning. The storm was Saturday night, hence the extra leaves. I only have one recycling bin. It is now full. The building across the street IS the children's library. Their landscapers took the leaves from the library's lawn and push them into the street. I don't use a rake for the following reasons: (1) the rake I have blisters my hands, (2) the grass at that point is very uneven and quite difficult to rake, and (3) I see nothing wrong with using a battery-operated Black and Decker blower.

I did get a laugh out of the comments. To each their own, I say.

The photographer was quite nice. We had a good chat about taking pictures (I took pictures for the Paly newspaper and yearbook in my day), his past years of employment, and (oddly enough) how "unique" Palo Alto people are with their posts on the Palo Alto Online Forum.

Thanks for the laugh, everybody. Enjoy the day.

Posted by Periwinkle, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Todd, good for you. Seriously, some of the people on this thread have too much time on their hands.

Posted by Jeez, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 13, 2007 at 4:58 pm

A boy clearing some leaves is worth a newspaper story? Jeez.

Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2007 at 5:00 pm

A battery-powered blower uses more electrical energy than a 115-volt blower. That's because of the inefficiency of charging and discharging a battery. There's also the energy cost of manufacturing the battery. If I was a viro, I would give Todd a demerit.

Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Nov 13, 2007 at 5:08 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Todd is also an excellent softball player. I'm proud to say our (now defunct) Palo Alto Weekly softball team had a tremendous rivalry with Todd's team several years ago. The games were always very competitive and both teams would talk and laugh together afterward, regardless of the winner. He is a class act all the way.

Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Nov 13, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

P.S. to "Jeez" -- this is only intended as a feature photo on our website, not a newspaper story.

Posted by Sparky, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 13, 2007 at 5:16 pm

I love the "greener than thou" preachers - they are always good for a laugh.

"I bought carbon credits to offset my battery powered blower use..."

"Who cares? I picked up my leaves with wooden tweezers, made from organically grown, fairly traded, renewable pine wood."

"That's nothing. I peed directly on mine to accelerate their composting into my native brush lawn, also saving water from not having to flush."

It goes on and on and on... ;-)

Posted by Jim, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2007 at 5:24 pm


Good for you. Takin' it like a man, and dishin' it back (with a sense of humor!).

You will do just fine in life. Best to you.

Posted by Todd, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 13, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Jim et al.

I also appreciate being called a "boy" seeing as I'm 32.

I must also say that Tyler was a great softball manager. His PA Weekly teams were always competitive. We actually "liberated" their female 3B for a few games the following season. Great people.

Also, R Wray, you will be happy to know that I just replaced the lightbulbs in my house and am using LED holiday lights this year.

This thread was a great read. It's why I love Palo Alto. No place like it in the world. I can't wait to see the replies my non-PA friends have to say about the comments.

All the best,


Posted by Periwinkle, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2007 at 6:15 pm

Sparky - - ROFL!!!!!

Posted by John M., a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2007 at 6:33 pm

Web Link

One would think that the picture Norbert took was this one, instead of a helpful citizen doing his neighbors a favor. Sheesh!!!

Go, Todd!

Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2007 at 7:36 pm

OK, Todd, if you replaced your incandescents with LED's, you're forgiven. But if you just add LED's where no lights existed before and claim an energy savings like the city is doing with King Plaza, then you don't get any points.

Posted by Todd, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 13, 2007 at 8:34 pm

R Wray,

I only added LED's where there were lights previously... and did not claim an energy savings. I didn't want to waste the paper.

Thanks again. Have a good one.


Posted by Green city, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 13, 2007 at 8:37 pm

If anyone did not like the leaves blower and we need to cut all the tree from the city. It will be a desert city. I don't think it is a problem for him as a good Palo Altan to use a leaves blower.

Green city

Posted by Shannon, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2007 at 8:42 pm

leaves in the street. oh noes. isnt that what the street sweeper is for?

Posted by Swiss Jeez, a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2007 at 6:17 am

I agree with Jeez... how does this even start to be considered news and then generate so many people talking about it? It must have been a slow news day.

They are leaves, people! Only in Palo Alto!

Posted by Karen B., a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2007 at 9:20 am

I am a close family friend and have known Todd for twenty-two years. He always seemed like such a nice young man.

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