News

Guest Opinion: It's time to address leaf blowers (again)

Longtime resident calls on city to act on gardening tool some consider a public nuisance

A few days ago, as I was composing a profound, but now-forgotten thought, I was jolted out of my reverie by the angry roar of a leaf blower across the street from my house. After a brief respite, during which I managed to recover my concentration and return to work, my ears were assaulted by the roar another one, this time down the street. Then another, now on the next block.

In frustration, I posted the following comment on our neighborhood blog, NextDoor.com:

Dear Neighbors:

May I take this opportunity to post my annual reminder that gas-powered leaf blowers are ILLEGAL in Palo Alto. "Illegal" means against the law, banned, criminal, forbidden, lawless, outlawed, prohibited, proscribed, taboo, unauthorized, unlawful, wrongful and otherwise verboten. If any part of that is unclear, overly technical, or too legalistic, allow me to translate: DON'T DO IT!

The City has determined that these machines are noisy, dangerous and polluting, and whether or not one agrees, we are a nation (and a city) of laws. If your gardeners are using illegal, noisy, dangerous, polluting gas-powered leaf blowers, may I respectfully suggest that you kick in a few extra bucks to help them finance the transition to legal, quiet, safe and non-polluting electric ones? These guys work very hard, don't get paid very much, and it is ultimately the homeowners, who aid and abet their criminal activity, who are culpable.

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Thank you for respecting your wheezing, nerve-wracked, sleep-deprived, law-abiding neighbors by hiring gardeners who promise to do the same.

Within a few hours, I had received 54 responses — 53 of them positive. The sole dissenter opined that "It's not that big of a deal." Apparently for most of us, it is, and it has been for a very long time. Since then, people have continued to reply to my post with analytical, anecdotal and epidemiological evidence of just how disruptive and dangerous these machines are (ever wonder why their operators wear face masks and earplugs)? Neighbors reported on respiratory and sleep problems; they suggested environmentally friendly alternatives; they recorded their frustrations at the inability of the city to enforce its own ordinance prohibiting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, as the vast majority of my respondents attested — despite hundreds of complaints every year — the 2005 ordinance has proven ineffectual and unworkable. The best we can do is call the police, who typically arrive long after the culprits have left the scene (possibly because our police department actually has more important things to do). Our "311" service appears to be marginally more effective, but not much.

Many of the people who responded to my plea expressed sympathy for the gardeners, as I do. I doubt that many of these folks live in Palo Alto and are even aware of the local ordinance. Many of them simply work for landscaping companies that provide their equipment. It is for that reason that I am advocating a redirection of our efforts. Let's take the fight to the homeowners and property managers who hire these gardeners: Most likely, many of these homeowners are not present during the day and are unaware that their gardeners are in violation of the law.

There would seem to be a simple, and even obvious remedy to what is widely recognized to be a public nuisance for some, a chronic health hazard for others and an environmental calamity for everyone. Homeowners and property managers should be issued a citation, perhaps preceded by a one-time warning but followed by a real penalty. A couple of $300 fines would provide a strong incentive for property owners to require their gardeners to transition to electric machines — or rakes! Gardeners are usually off to their next job by the time the police arrive. Houses and apartment buildings, however, aren't going anywhere, and in the age of the ubiquitous cell-phone camera, it would be easy to document the time, date and location of the offense. A mandatory fine should do the trick — think of those unwelcome notices that inform drivers that they have run a red light on El Camino or been recorded using the carpool lane on the Bay Bridge.

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I do not wish to enter into a discussion here of why some of our fellow citizens find it necessary to blow toxic particulate matter from one side of the street to the other; or to document the fact that more people died in the 20th century from air pollution than from World War I and World War II combined; or to cite medical evidence of the correlation between noise and dust pollution and arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction, reduced cognitive performance and endothelial dysfunction; or to enlist the authority of the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society or the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Rather, this statement is limited to suggesting a practical, pragmatic, revenue-generating solution to a problem that has plagued our community but remains unresolved.

The City Council has recognized the negative impact of gas-powered leaf blowers upon our health, our environment and our quality of life. Furthermore, the council is aware of the overwhelming popular support for banning them from our city. So I'd like to ask our elected officials: Would you finally please act upon it?

Barry Katz is a longtime resident of Palo Alto. He has been singularly ineffective in his campaigns against ugly buildings, greedy landlords, useless parking structures and other community issues.

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Guest Opinion: It's time to address leaf blowers (again)

Longtime resident calls on city to act on gardening tool some consider a public nuisance

by / Contributor

Uploaded: Fri, Aug 23, 2019, 6:54 am

A few days ago, as I was composing a profound, but now-forgotten thought, I was jolted out of my reverie by the angry roar of a leaf blower across the street from my house. After a brief respite, during which I managed to recover my concentration and return to work, my ears were assaulted by the roar another one, this time down the street. Then another, now on the next block.

In frustration, I posted the following comment on our neighborhood blog, NextDoor.com:

Dear Neighbors:

May I take this opportunity to post my annual reminder that gas-powered leaf blowers are ILLEGAL in Palo Alto. "Illegal" means against the law, banned, criminal, forbidden, lawless, outlawed, prohibited, proscribed, taboo, unauthorized, unlawful, wrongful and otherwise verboten. If any part of that is unclear, overly technical, or too legalistic, allow me to translate: DON'T DO IT!

The City has determined that these machines are noisy, dangerous and polluting, and whether or not one agrees, we are a nation (and a city) of laws. If your gardeners are using illegal, noisy, dangerous, polluting gas-powered leaf blowers, may I respectfully suggest that you kick in a few extra bucks to help them finance the transition to legal, quiet, safe and non-polluting electric ones? These guys work very hard, don't get paid very much, and it is ultimately the homeowners, who aid and abet their criminal activity, who are culpable.

Thank you for respecting your wheezing, nerve-wracked, sleep-deprived, law-abiding neighbors by hiring gardeners who promise to do the same.

Within a few hours, I had received 54 responses — 53 of them positive. The sole dissenter opined that "It's not that big of a deal." Apparently for most of us, it is, and it has been for a very long time. Since then, people have continued to reply to my post with analytical, anecdotal and epidemiological evidence of just how disruptive and dangerous these machines are (ever wonder why their operators wear face masks and earplugs)? Neighbors reported on respiratory and sleep problems; they suggested environmentally friendly alternatives; they recorded their frustrations at the inability of the city to enforce its own ordinance prohibiting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, as the vast majority of my respondents attested — despite hundreds of complaints every year — the 2005 ordinance has proven ineffectual and unworkable. The best we can do is call the police, who typically arrive long after the culprits have left the scene (possibly because our police department actually has more important things to do). Our "311" service appears to be marginally more effective, but not much.

Many of the people who responded to my plea expressed sympathy for the gardeners, as I do. I doubt that many of these folks live in Palo Alto and are even aware of the local ordinance. Many of them simply work for landscaping companies that provide their equipment. It is for that reason that I am advocating a redirection of our efforts. Let's take the fight to the homeowners and property managers who hire these gardeners: Most likely, many of these homeowners are not present during the day and are unaware that their gardeners are in violation of the law.

There would seem to be a simple, and even obvious remedy to what is widely recognized to be a public nuisance for some, a chronic health hazard for others and an environmental calamity for everyone. Homeowners and property managers should be issued a citation, perhaps preceded by a one-time warning but followed by a real penalty. A couple of $300 fines would provide a strong incentive for property owners to require their gardeners to transition to electric machines — or rakes! Gardeners are usually off to their next job by the time the police arrive. Houses and apartment buildings, however, aren't going anywhere, and in the age of the ubiquitous cell-phone camera, it would be easy to document the time, date and location of the offense. A mandatory fine should do the trick — think of those unwelcome notices that inform drivers that they have run a red light on El Camino or been recorded using the carpool lane on the Bay Bridge.

I do not wish to enter into a discussion here of why some of our fellow citizens find it necessary to blow toxic particulate matter from one side of the street to the other; or to document the fact that more people died in the 20th century from air pollution than from World War I and World War II combined; or to cite medical evidence of the correlation between noise and dust pollution and arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction, reduced cognitive performance and endothelial dysfunction; or to enlist the authority of the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society or the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Rather, this statement is limited to suggesting a practical, pragmatic, revenue-generating solution to a problem that has plagued our community but remains unresolved.

The City Council has recognized the negative impact of gas-powered leaf blowers upon our health, our environment and our quality of life. Furthermore, the council is aware of the overwhelming popular support for banning them from our city. So I'd like to ask our elected officials: Would you finally please act upon it?

Barry Katz is a longtime resident of Palo Alto. He has been singularly ineffective in his campaigns against ugly buildings, greedy landlords, useless parking structures and other community issues.

Comments

Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2019 at 8:32 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2019 at 8:32 am
31 people like this

I agree 100%. Most of the leaf blowing is pointless anyway, but, for those who want it, there are perfectly good corded electric and battery-electric blowers out there that are quieter and much less annoying. And mowers, too, while we are on the subject: although most mowers are cleaner and quieter now than they used to be, battery-powered mowers are even better. I used my battery-powered mower for several years -it worked perfectly well- and eventually sold it after the transition to drought-tolerant landscaping.

Let's find ways to encourage the transition to battery-powered landscaping.


M-A Gardener's Association
another community
on Aug 23, 2019 at 9:18 am
M-A Gardener's Association, another community
on Aug 23, 2019 at 9:18 am
5 people like this

The other (and former landscape maintenance alternatives) are just as irritating and/or impractical.

The sound of aluminum rakes is grating to the ears & hosing debris off the sidewalks is now considered a waste of water.

Electric leaf blowers are quiter but you have to have access to outdoor AC and a very long extension cord.

So what is a poor landscape maintenance person to do when they only have about 20-30 minutes to clean-up the outdoor areas?




Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:14 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:14 am
15 people like this

Posted by M-A Gardener's Association, a resident of another community

>> Electric leaf blowers are quiter but you have to have access to outdoor AC and a very long extension cord.

>> So what is a poor landscape maintenance person to do when they only have about 20-30 minutes to clean-up the outdoor areas?

Rechargeable battery leaf blowers. Just in time for leaf season, here is a fresh rundown right here:

Web Link


Bill Bucy
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:22 am
Bill Bucy, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:22 am
6 people like this

We should all re-read the 8th paragraph in this piece which notes, "the 2005 ordinance has proven ineffectual and unworkable" and then go out for a nice cup of tea when the gardener is scheduled to arrive.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:23 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:23 am
5 people like this

Palo Alto is a city that loves it's canopy and protects it with requirements. My Redwood tree out front is dropping nuts and leaf pieces chewed off by the squirrels. I can clean that one day and the next it is littered. My back yard is the recipient of both my and other people's trees on a continual basis. That is the reality of living in a tree city. And when the wind comes up then the yard is littered by tree pieces from all surrounding yards. I wish the residents who do not have to deal with a situation quit dictating to those who do have to deal with the situation.
I do note that the PA maintenance crews who clean up the parks are using untethered leaf blowers. That is reality.


Anon
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:56 am
Anon, Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:56 am
5 people like this

Under both the current ordinance and the author’s proposal someone has to notify the police of the violation. So are the police going to be more willing to respond in a timely fashion if the citation is given to the homeowner rather than the gardener? Or will the citation be issued to the homeowner when the violation is reported without any requirement that the police respond?

If the author’s proposal is adopted, then as soon as I get my warning (or initial fine if there is no warning) I will tell my gardener that I no longer desire his services unless he starts using leaf blowers that comply with the ordinance, So it seems like the City would be making me the heavy so it can avoid having its police officers issue citations to gardeners.


jim
Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:59 am
jim, Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:59 am
10 people like this

Thank you Barry for a well written thoughtful article. I will tell my gardener to not use gas and will help him buy an electric.

I agree the law should allow for dated photos as evidence and fines to the property owner.
In addition, only rakes should be allowed on streets. I see gardeners blowing dust every day. The city cleans the small debris that would be left by using only rakes on the streets. Electric blowers should be confined to yards.

In many yards, there are sufficient outlets for a corded electric. For others, a gardener would need a premium cordless with at least 2 spare batteries charging in his truck to be able to service yards.


Drake
Meadow Park
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:03 am
Drake, Meadow Park
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:03 am
3 people like this

We should NOT use the police to enforce this law. Live with it.


lstovel
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:03 am
lstovel, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:03 am
24 people like this

I chipped in $300 so my gardener could buy a battery-powered leaf blower–they are very expensive–because I could not stand the smell of the gas blower. It may be that he uses it only at my house, but I am much happier not having the smell.


PA Grandma
Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:08 am
PA Grandma, Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:08 am
25 people like this

If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, the dust and dirt kicked up by the leaf blowers, whether they are gas or electric, is hazardous to your health. And it leaves a layer of grit over everything in the vicinity, including the side of your house and roof, which washes into the rain gutters and drains to to Bay. It is pollution.


sequoiadean
Registered user
Los Altos
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:19 am
sequoiadean, Los Altos
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:19 am
15 people like this

Thank you Barry for the letter. I live in Los Altos (after 30 years in Palo Alto), and gas leaf blowers are a big nuisance here too. I and other residents are being more proactive about calling the police about these horrible devices, and they are now issuing more citations. We have also created flyers that we give to homeowners and gardeners notifying them of the ordinance, and this is having a positive effect on reducing the number of gas leaf blowers in use. I think if everyone who is bothered by these devices calls the police and complains, they will get the picture that this is important to the citizens of Palo Alto and enforce the law.

I completely agree that it is the homeowner who should be responsible and pay the fines, not the gardeners. They are just doing their jobs, and we should want to help them do it in a healthier manner.

Those of you who say "I wish the residents who do not have to deal with a situation quit dictating to those who do have to deal with the situation." have it all wrong - we are dealing with the situation every time your gardener is disturbing the neighborhood by using a gas leaf blower. We can't ALL go out for a cup of tea every time there's a leaf blower within hearing distance. That's all we'd be doing all day then.

Have you noticed that NOT ONCE, EVER, have you seen a homeowner use a gas leaf blower? If a homeowner uses one, it is 100% of the time electric, because they do not want to breath in the pollutants from the gas one. Why is it we subject our gardeners to something we would not tolerate? If you have a gardener, chip in a few bucks to help him buy an electric leaf blower.

Better yet, pay the gardener more to use a rake and a broom, or pay him for his time, and get use to the fact that a minute after the leaves are cleaned up, they will start falling again. It's a losing proposition in a tree-covered community to eliminate all leaves, nor is it good for our soil, our gardens, the critters that live here. I could go on.


SuperD
Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:21 am
SuperD, Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:21 am
12 people like this

If gas powered leaf blowers are the biggest concern in your life, you are living a blessed existence!


Nayeli
Midtown
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:34 am
Nayeli, Midtown
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:34 am
37 people like this

Recently, I explained to one gardener (in Spanish) that the law requires only electric blowers. He told me that he doesn't have the power to make that decision.

He said that his boss had recently bought a new electric blower, but decided to start another "crew" in his gardening company (and that new crew uses the electric one). Their crew was forced to continue using the gas-powered blowers.

Interestingly, he said that most of the crew members are daily contractors who are paid under the table. He said that if anyone made an issue of it, the boss would simply hire someone else.

The gardener mentioned that they are told to "play stupid" if they are confronted by cops or someone from the city. He said that their boss told them not to worry too much because no one at the city or police actually pays attention to this law anyway.


Nayeli
Midtown
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:41 am
Nayeli, Midtown
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:41 am
36 people like this

@ SuperD - I'm not sure that gas blowers are anyone's BIGGEST concerns in their lives.

However, if you have an air conditioner (meaning you don't rely on open windows to cool your house), you've got a blessed life. If you have no health problems (like asthma) and/or no worries for your children's health, etc., then you have a much more "blessed" life.

I guess that this is "Palo Alto privilege?" Of course, not everyone in Palo Alto is so privileged. Some people can close their windows and turn on the air conditioner. Many of us cannot.

Each and every week, when carbon monoxide from a gas blower is flowing into your home or apartment from an open window or window fan and you see your child coughing, you might not think that you're so "blessed" at that particular moment.


Of course
Mountain View
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:43 am
Of course, Mountain View
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:43 am
22 people like this

Reminds me of Grapes of Wrath...one who won’t gets replaced with one who will.

Shining example of why CA continues to encourage illegal immigration. Cheap labor!


Diana
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2019 at 12:52 pm
Diana, Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2019 at 12:52 pm
20 people like this

As with enacting or enforcing any law, you have to ask yourself who gets hurt. On the one hand we have residents who desire tidy leafless lawns and gardens, on the other we have residents who want to protect their health and the health of their gardeners. Protecting health is more important than pleasing the aesthetic tastes of the few who believe a leafless lawn is more important than a healthy environment.


Jim
Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 1:27 pm
Jim, Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 1:27 pm
23 people like this

The worst part of blowers (gas or electric) is blowing on the street. It just raises a lot of dust. If there is heavy debris on the street - use a rake. It's actually easier for this. Getting the streets super clean (and sending the dust to everyone else) should not be your gardeners job.The city cleans the streets.
This is the main cause of breathing problems and adding dirt to your household if you don't have air conditioning and need to open windows.

Walk around and watch when gardeners blow on the street and see all the dust put into the air.


Just Say NO To Messy Trees
Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 1:49 pm
Just Say NO To Messy Trees, Community Center
on Aug 23, 2019 at 1:49 pm
12 people like this

Another way to reduce/eliminate both gas & leaf blowers in PA is to eliminate the trees & that drop a lot of stuff on the ground.

Evergreens drop needles & cones while ginko and other deciduous trees like maple are known for dropping lots of leaves.

^^^These should all be removed & replaced with trees that don't drop leaves or debris.

This will also cut-down on having to clear rain gutters as well.


Kimberly Sweidy
Registered user
St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 23, 2019 at 2:21 pm
Kimberly Sweidy, St. Claire Gardens
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2019 at 2:21 pm
29 people like this

In 2014, I realized how ridiculous it was for me to be having discussions with my landscape maintenance company about what equipment they needed to be using. I went to Hassett Hardware and bought for my home a Stihl Electric Leaf Blower for $119.95 and a 100 foot outdoor extension cord for $74.99. I have plenty of outdoor outlets. I instructed the company to use the equipment that I provided for them because it is required by law and because it's better for everyone. Problem solved.


Elaine
Los Altos
on Aug 23, 2019 at 3:48 pm
Elaine, Los Altos
on Aug 23, 2019 at 3:48 pm
28 people like this

This is not a small problem. Gas powered leaf blowers have the following negative effects:
- They shoot particulate matter (including gas emissions, spores, animal droppings, heavy metals) into the operator's lungs.
- This particulate matter hovers in the area for two hours after the blowing stops, effecting children and pets especially.
- They dry out plants and remove leaves and mulch that harbor beneficial insects.
- one hour of operation emits smog-forming pollution comparable to driving a 2016 Toyota Camry about 1100 miles, or approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Denver.

These devices are not good for people, not good for plants and not good for the planet.


Neighbor
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:43 pm
Neighbor, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:43 pm
14 people like this

I’m a female homeowner and when I’ve politely asked gardener crews (who do truly minimal work) to not use any blowers on my property, I basically am ignored. They temporarily stop. I think they are sexist.
Years ago, no one had blowers. They are useful a brief period in the Fall, that I can see. Otherwise a rake is fine. It isn”t time consuming to use a rake, that is a silly argument unless you have an unusual garden/yard. I am not going to purchase fancy equipment for a gardening business, they have multiple customers and should provide their own tools. I am not willing to become their employer.
I wish someone could stop those who blow leaves, dirt, dust out into the street, which accomplishes nothing and adds a mess.
The noise from a blower on Saturdays is awful near me.


Synchronize
Charleston Meadows
on Aug 24, 2019 at 1:26 am
Synchronize, Charleston Meadows
on Aug 24, 2019 at 1:26 am
8 people like this

When we first moved here, all the neighbors around used the same gardening crew. They came every Wednesday, did everyones yards in the morning and we all had peace and quiet for the next 6 days. Then the neighborhood changed over the years. People moved away and the new owners hired their own landscapers. Now the noise is daily and scattered throughout all hours of the day. (Sigh)


john_alderman
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2019 at 8:07 am
john_alderman, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2019 at 8:07 am
14 people like this

Please adopt the Santa Monica solution: fine property owners for the use of gas blowers on their property. It had a major effect there, and worst case is it raises some money for the city. And even a little enforcement helps...

Web Link


rezi
Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2019 at 10:29 am
rezi, Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2019 at 10:29 am
16 people like this

Do.your.own.gardening.


Pa
Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2019 at 8:36 pm
Pa, Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2019 at 8:36 pm
5 people like this

If property found using any leaf blower, I propose the following:
- Rental properties default into rent control status
- Owner occupied property loses their Prop13 status

That will solve multiple problems at the same time


musical
Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2019 at 8:42 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2019 at 8:42 pm
2 people like this

^ Fails the Eighth Amendment.


susidies?
Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2019 at 9:38 pm
susidies?, Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2019 at 9:38 pm
11 people like this

My impression is that the majority of gardeners who use gas blowers do so because of their lower cost. Perhaps if the city subsidized the cost of more environmentally-friendly battery-operated blowers the gardeners would be happy to purchase them instead.


Let it go
El Carmelo School
on Aug 26, 2019 at 7:54 am
Let it go, El Carmelo School
on Aug 26, 2019 at 7:54 am
3 people like this

Why does this topic keep popping up? Majority does not care

When a “law” or city ordinance is not obeyed by the majority then it’s time for it to go away.

Residents want there lawns maintained, the Police have bigger things to enforce, the Gardner’s want efficiency and more blowing power.

Get some earplugs or like above to grab a cup of tea.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:49 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:49 am
10 people like this

Posted by Let it go, a resident of El Carmelo School

>> Why does this topic keep popping up? Majority does not care

Actually, AFAIK, the majority does care. City Hall doesn't care.

>> Residents want there lawns maintained, the Police have bigger things to enforce, the Gardner’s want efficiency and more blowing power.

Too much blowing power just leads to massive clouds of dust blown down the block. There used to be a gardening service (might still be?) over on Georgia by the Gunn bike path cut through that had an extremely loud leaf blower that was loud even on the bike path on the other side of the houses. The gardener had houses on both sides of the streets and kicked up an enormous cloud of dust that blew down the block and over towards Gunn.

- This type of activity was always and is now a "nuisance". If teenage boys were making this much noise with their music blaster they would be cited and dispersed. And arrested if they pushed back.

- The huge cloud of dust is bad for people with various respiratory illnesses.

- The noise is bad for people. It exceeds public health standards for noise.

- It contributes hydrocarbon pollution and GHGs.

- It serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

And, there are convenient, much quieter, alternatives available.

>> Get some earplugs or like above to grab a cup of tea.

The property owners should build sound barriers around their property if they insist on the gardener using this idiotic device.


Srsly
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:12 am
Srsly, Old Palo Alto
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:12 am
1 person likes this

[Post removed.]


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:12 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:12 am
Like this comment

Apologies for following up my own post, but, as-posted, it is confusing. The gardening -service- wasn't on Georgia; several houses that used it were on Georgia near the Gunn bike path cut-through. (Still doing this? Still creating its own dust storm?)


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:13 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:13 am
14 people like this

Use a rake and a broom like I do.
Blowers are unnecessary and pose significant health risks.


Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2019 at 11:01 am
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Aug 26, 2019 at 11:01 am
5 people like this

I did do my own gardening for 3 years, and it is exhausting. I have many other things I do such asVOLUNTEERING which actually takes time to do. Get a job or volunteer to help someone else


leafy
College Terrace
on Aug 26, 2019 at 12:08 pm
leafy, College Terrace
on Aug 26, 2019 at 12:08 pm
11 people like this

hate them hate them, they are disgusting, stink and are sound awful. People are sooooooo lazy they cant even clean their own yards, get some exercise!!!! Plant wisely and you wont need one!!

Most of the time the "blow and mow" fools, just come even when there is no need at all, it's just a weekly stupid waste of time. Summer Winter Fall.

Please call (650) 329-2413 write down the license plate number of the "gardener" and address and they will come and warn them.

2 stroke exhaust is super toxic, its half oil!!! What a way to add a little more ugly noise and worthless pollution. Leave your windows open and your lazy neighbor will fill your whole house with the crap!


Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2019 at 12:20 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Aug 26, 2019 at 12:20 pm
6 people like this

I'm not lazy; I'm 78 years old, leafy.


Old Joe
Barron Park
on Aug 26, 2019 at 2:02 pm
Old Joe, Barron Park
on Aug 26, 2019 at 2:02 pm
11 people like this

M-A Gardener's Association : "The sound of aluminum rakes is grating to the ears"

Seriously ? the sound of a rake bothers you so much and you suggest that a two stroke leaf blower is the better alternative ?


Bill Michel
another community
on Aug 26, 2019 at 2:44 pm
Bill Michel, another community
on Aug 26, 2019 at 2:44 pm
7 people like this

Grew up near Mitchell Park. Am frequently riding through PA... seems like
violation of the Ordinance is pervasive. We have a lot of "motorized landscape equipment noise here in REdwood City. Burlingame passed an ordinance in 2012...
might be instructive to hear how that is working... Web Link

Both from a noise, and an air-quality perspective, we should *definitely*
be moving away from the 2-strokes. There *are* actually gas powered models
that are pretty quiet, but environmentally, it would seem that electric
ones will continue to improve.

I encouraged our Council to work with the Air District and Manufacturers
to establish some sort of incentive program for landscapers to upgrade
their equipment to quieter/cleaner units.


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Aug 26, 2019 at 4:16 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Aug 26, 2019 at 4:16 pm
10 people like this

"He said that their boss told them not to worry too much because no one at the city or police actually pays attention to this law anyway."

That's the key. Same with the hardfought anti-idling ordinance. The city council makes laws but has no power to enforce that they are enforced. Or, even more absurdly, it chooses not to enforce its laws.

So pass the new law. Nobody will notice any change.


Allison
Midtown
on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:54 pm
Allison, Midtown
on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:54 pm
3 people like this

A few months back, I picked up the phone and complained about a gas blower being used across the street. A few days later I received a letter from the city stating that I am going to get a $300 fine if MY GARDENERS were caught using the gas blower. Um...okay.

I have been paying an extra $20 per month for the last two years to my gardener so he would use a gas blower.

I do think that calling the police is useless. I did it about 15 times -- the police come by and just keep on driving! They could care less about this law.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2019 at 3:44 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2019 at 3:44 pm
2 people like this

Yeah, I want to have the police prioritize leaf blowers over muggings and robberies around Palo Alto.


Me me me
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 27, 2019 at 4:17 pm
Me me me, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 27, 2019 at 4:17 pm
1 person likes this

The problem is that even as the lowest priority, when police have nothing else to do and come when called for a noise or leaf blower ordinance violation, and see the violation themselves, they do not stop the violation. They at most warn the violator. I’d be surprised if the fine has ever been paid.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2019 at 4:37 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2019 at 4:37 pm
8 people like this

Me 2 : “Yeah, I want to have the police prioritize leaf blowers over muggings and robberies around Palo Alto.”

Please provide ANY evidence that this priority inversion is actually happening, or even that ANYBODY has suggested such prioritization.

Perhaps this leaf blower “dust up” is just a slippery slope. Today it’s leaf blowers, and tomorrow it will be taking away everybody’s guns, right ?

The train is Victorian.


Old Joe
Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2019 at 5:20 pm
Old Joe, Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2019 at 5:20 pm
7 people like this

@Anon said....
> Perhaps this leaf blower “dust up” is just a slippery slope.
>Today it’s leaf blowers, and tomorrow it will be taking
>away everybody’s guns”

touché’


HUTCH 7.62
Portola Valley
on Aug 28, 2019 at 10:13 am
HUTCH 7.62, Portola Valley
on Aug 28, 2019 at 10:13 am
4 people like this

Why live in an overcrowded city and then complain about noise? The owners of those leaf blowers are often undocumented immigrants, who are struggling to survive, why cause them any more financial Hardship? Are any of you willing to buy them new quieter leaf blowers?


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2019 at 10:50 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2019 at 10:50 am
3 people like this

Posted by HUTCH 7.62, a resident of Portola Valley

>> Why live in an overcrowded city and then complain about noise? The owners of those leaf blowers are often undocumented immigrants, who are struggling to survive, why cause them any more financial Hardship? Are any of you willing to buy them new quieter leaf blowers?

Why do you assume that Palo Alto has to be noisy? I recall an acquaintance from a big city visiting me back in the 80's around the time the Apple Mac came out complaining about it being "too quiet". He preferred a noisier, more stressful environment. I preferred a quieter environment. All kinds of things were being developed around here at the time in that quieter environment.

Quieter electric leaf blowers are quite affordable, BTW.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:01 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:01 pm
1 person likes this

"Please provide ANY evidence that this priority inversion is actually happening, or even that ANYBODY has suggested such prioritization."

No. YOU please provide ANY evidence that this priority inversion is actually NOT happening, or that ANYBODY has suggested that it isn't prioritization.

Or maybe just look up the thread to see someone saying they've called the police 15 times. That's more evidence (albeit anecdotal) that you have yet to provide.

So there. Nah nah thbbbbbht.


Alice
Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2019 at 2:34 pm
Alice, Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2019 at 2:34 pm
11 people like this

Someone put their dog poop in MY trash can today. I wish the police would do something about these irresponsible and rude dog owners.


M-A Gardener's Association
another community
on Aug 29, 2019 at 3:22 pm
M-A Gardener's Association, another community
on Aug 29, 2019 at 3:22 pm
6 people like this

IF the professional gardener's associations agreed to eliminate the use of gas-powered leaf blowers & returned to the use of metal rakes, homeowner's water to hose off the sidewalks + an added fee for removing the debris & dumping it, would PA homeowners be willing to pay an additional $100-$125 per month for landscape services?

Fat chance....and an even fatter chance they would have their kids mow the lawns & rake the leaves.

Palo Alto resident parents have not instilled any values in their children when it comes to earning money.

So the gas-powered leaf blowers will continue.

Wear some protective earwear to ward off the noise.. That's what my workers do.

Adios complainers.

miguel


Nah
Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2019 at 3:29 pm
Nah, Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2019 at 3:29 pm
10 people like this

“ Use a rake and a broom like I do.
Blowers are unnecessary and pose significant health risks “


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2019 at 4:52 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2019 at 4:52 pm
3 people like this

Posted by M-A Gardener's Association, a resident of another community

>> So the gas-powered leaf blowers will continue.

>> Wear some protective earwear to ward off the noise.. That's what my workers do.

So, you recognize it as a health issue for the workers, but, not for neighbors subjected to it. That is "normal", and also, why we need -enforcement-.


Zinney
Green Acres
on Sep 1, 2019 at 2:05 pm
Zinney , Green Acres
on Sep 1, 2019 at 2:05 pm
3 people like this

I am hoping for good outcomes her.
I am not liking noisy working in my house area.


Clara Sims
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2019 at 10:09 pm
Clara Sims, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2019 at 10:09 pm
Like this comment

Does anyone know when this law goes into effect?


musical
Palo Verde
on Sep 3, 2019 at 1:47 am
musical, Palo Verde
on Sep 3, 2019 at 1:47 am
14 people like this

^ Passed by City Council on June 13, 2005. Still waiting for it to go into effect.


Kenny
University South
on Sep 4, 2019 at 6:15 pm
Kenny, University South
on Sep 4, 2019 at 6:15 pm
1 person likes this

Address leaf blowers again? Hah, like the issue was ever addressed in the first place. And no, passing a gas-powered leaf blower ban and then refusing to enforce it does not count. Does anyone really think that our city government will be any more effective this time?


Kenny
University South
on Sep 4, 2019 at 6:24 pm
Kenny, University South
on Sep 4, 2019 at 6:24 pm
Like this comment

"Why live in an overcrowded city and then complain about noise?'

Because it is Palo Alto and that is what people do here. When have you read Town Square when people were not complaining about something?


Ginny
South of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2019 at 9:59 pm
Ginny, South of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2019 at 9:59 pm
3 people like this

It is fair game to not like noise. Tend to your own problems please and let us stick to business at hand.


Responsibility
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 8:24 am
Responsibility, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 8:24 am
2 people like this

When we were renting, I used to try to get gardening services to rake instead. The workers preferred it. It was faster, less noxious for them, and it didn't leave nasty grit over everything including the house.

But there was always some new guy at some point and they would go back to the blowers because that's what they did. So when we got into a home, we didn't hire a landascaper (just as well, can't afford it anyway), and find on balance that not having the disruption, the grit all over the house and windows, the noise, and most of all the dust (asthmatic child), were well worth having to rake a few times a year.

When you can restrict the dust to your own airspace -- including the sidewalk in front of your house -- so that children and we can take daily walks for our health without having to breathe your toxic cloud, and when we don't have to bake in our non-A/C house all day because we had to close up early to avoid the toxic dust for your landscaping that didn't need the dust blowing anyway, then maybe I will be as dismissive about the issue as some above. Seriously, maybe we could require a tent over your house so that only you get the benefit of your dust, and see how long you think it's a non-issue -- it would keep down the noise for everyone else, too. I'm sure if it became commonplace, it could be very easy to put up and take down.

Until then, if it's such a non-issue, how about just getting a rake and a broom, or better yet, not being so anal about having a leaf here and there on your property? Maybe go volunteer at the hospital and sit with kids having emergency care for asthma attacks or elderly people with COPD (the ones who couldn't get the exercise they needed because of your "non-issue".)

I am 100% in agreement with the above poster, except I'd prefer to ban all leafblowers. For most people, hand tools won't be anymore timeconsuming and their homes and windows will be cleaner. Anyone with enough landacaping that they feel they can't live without a blower can afford to pay their landscapers a decent wage to sweep or rake. Or pay for a tent every time so you and your children's lungs own your own dust.


TimR
Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2019 at 10:13 pm
TimR, Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2019 at 10:13 pm
Like this comment

Soon after the law went into effect, I was in a class at the Pacific Art league, and watched out the window as a gardener at city hall used an electric blower plugged into his gasoline generator. It was unworkable from the very beginning--even for the city itself.


musical
Palo Verde
on Oct 1, 2019 at 12:15 am
musical, Palo Verde
on Oct 1, 2019 at 12:15 am
Like this comment

City Hall is not a "residential area" where our gasoline leaf blower ordinance applies.

Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are fine in non-residential zones,
but only Monday–Friday 8 am to 6 pm and Saturday 10 am to 4 pm.
Web Link


Wally
Gunn High School
on Oct 1, 2019 at 5:49 am
Wally, Gunn High School
on Oct 1, 2019 at 5:49 am
3 people like this

@TimR
Battery.
Lots of them on the market.
They have battery powered mowers, weedwackers, even chainsaws now, for Pete’s Sake
This is not difficult.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2019 at 12:14 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2019 at 12:14 pm
Like this comment

Posted by Wally, a resident of Gunn High School

>> Lots of them on the market.
>> They have battery powered mowers, weedwackers, even chainsaws now, for Pete’s Sake . This is not difficult.

Agreed. This thread should re-direct to reviews of all the battery-powered lawn/garden appliances from Greenworks, Stihl, Ryobi, Dewalt, Black and Decker, Worx, Makita, Remington, and, I'm sure, others. I wonder which product line(s) offer the best battery life/interoperability, etc. Reviews, anyone?


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