Editorial in the December 2013 Issue
“It shall be unlawful for any person to use or operate within the City, any portable machine, powered with a gasoline engine or electric motor, to blow leaves, dirt and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns, and other surfaces. (Ord. 535)” So reads the Del Mar ordinance on noise regulations.
It further states that the purpose of the ordinance is “to secure and promote the public health, comfort, safety and welfare, and to protect the rights of its citizens to privacy and freedom from nuisance... to prohibit unnecessary, excessive, and annoying noises at levels which are detrimental to the health and welfare of the community, and to minimize airborne dust and pollen.”
Leaf blowers have been banned here for about a decade, but they continue to flourish even though they compromise the health of all living organisms. Enforcement is lax and neighbors hesitate to “turn in” violators even though lower income minorities/gardeners ironically are being harmed the most.
We are playing a deadly game here. Starting up a noise-polluting, two stroke leaf blower is much more air polluting than cars. They fire up at more than 100mph and kick up animal fecal matter, allergens, chemicals, molds, and other toxins which travel directly into human breathing channels. This deadly particulate matter is hazardous to human health as well as plant, insect, and animal life.
Both the Natural Resources Defense Council and the California Air Resources Board strongly recommend banning these devices to cut down particulate matter. They have documented the harm caused including cardio-pulmonary disease, heart attacks, depressed immunity, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, hearing loss, and asthma. The small benefits hardly match the deadly cost.
We have neat yards and compromised health. Why continue doing this to ourselves?
What to do? Rake, sweep, recycle, change the enforcement targets, and educate residents. Raking and sweeping may take a little longer but are healthy activities. Leaves are excellent sources of energy and food for plants if allowed to decompose in mulchers. Leaf blowers contribute to global warming. Leaves have a cooling impact.
It is way past time for vigorous citizen action. Don’t wait for someone else to handle it. With concerted effort, one citizen at a time, we could be leaf-blower-free early in 2014. On most days we see a blower on almost every block. Each of us needs to speak up (“Hi, I want you to know that those leaf blowers are banned here, and your owner could receive a pretty big fine - maybe as much as $1,000. I would appreciate it if you would stop using it .”) Encourage both gardeners and owners to help improve the quality of the air we all breathe. If we encounter resistance, call Patty at city hall 755 9313 to follow up and issue a citation if necessary.