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Tonight: Council to consider a ban on gasoline-powered leaf-blowers

Original post made on Jan 9, 2019

The Portola Valley Town Council, when it meets Wednesday, Jan. 9, will consider banning gasoline-powered leaf blowers, along with the harmful practice of using electric blowers on soil surfaces.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 8:47 AM

Comments (7)

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 9:52 am

Excellent. Good for you PV. Wish Menlo Park would do the same, but also a ban on electric blowers. The dust and toxic chemicals these contraptions but onto and into our homes and bodies is inexcusable. Not to mention the noise. BTW Many gardeners have no clue as to the harm it does to them and the environment.

Teach your kids to rake folks.

Posted by Not Quite Yet
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jan 9, 2019 at 10:31 am

I've tried the Stihl battery blowers and they are quite good, but not good enough for the big jobs here in Portola Valley. Couldn't move a big pile of oak tree leaves dry, forget the wet ones. The largest battery backpack only lasts about 90 minutes going full out, which means Landscape crews would need multiple charged backpacks to get through the day (they take several hours to charge).

For small jobs and for do it yourself folks they are great. A trade in program would really help get things started, a ban would certainly cause a ruckus and likely large increases in fees (remember affordable housing goals?). Also, my gardener has been using 4-stroke blowers for several years now, they are much quieter and certainly exude less emissions than the 2-stroke. I'm guessing a large percentage of crews are using 4-stroke now.

At our house we use shredded redwood bark for ground cover. IMO holds moisture much better than oak leaves and looks much better. Very easy to blow the oak leaves off without removing the "gorilla hair" as it mats down nicely. IMO oak leaves are very "dirty" and take forever to break down, and they look horrible as a mulch. That said, the majority of leave blowing here occurs on the driveway. We have 67 oak trees on our property and the leaves somehow always find their way onto the patio, deck and driveway! Also, IMO, any landscape crew worth what they get paid would never blow down to bare dirt...Hello?

My vote, get things started but not time for an outright ban. The tech is just not there yet. Oh, and if anyone's kids have time to rake, send them over....

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jan 9, 2019 at 12:05 pm

"Soil moisture is essential to keeping landscaping alive over dry months, she said in a 2015 Almanac interview."

But if leaves drop in the fall, then the dry months have already passed. Also, from a fire hazard perspective, it seems unwise to leave a blanket of leaves on all soil year round.

I'm all for reducing/eliminating 2-stroke gas blowers, but it seems odd to outlaw use of electric blowers on soil as if this were equally harmful/unwanted. And according to the rationale offered, we should also outlaw raking leaves on soil.

Posted by Tricia
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 9, 2019 at 1:07 pm

Wish Atherton would ban gas blowers!!

Posted by Menlo Neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 1:43 pm

I stepped on my front patio this morning and heard a gas blower going full blast. I couldn't see the gardener but the noise was deafening and extremely annoying (as it is every day of the week). Even worse, I could smell and taste the raw and consumed gas fumes even though the blower was some distance away from me. Portola Valley is documenting the negative impacts on us all in our neighborhoods from noise and air pollution (significant fumes, dust and particulates) and related environmental and plant damage. Each community has distinct characteristics requiring different approaches to solutions to this problem, as Not Quite Yet points out. Menlo Park is a moderately dense residential environment and the impacts of heavy duty (full power) blowing are in your face noticeable. Gas blowers should definitely be out of the picture -- quite harmful to children, pets and the rest of us. Some combination of electric blowers, clearly defined areas of use and raking should offer an approach for Menlo Park and similar communities. If the MP City Council has the nerve to address this issue, effective enforcement would be a necessary accompaniment (based on Palo Alto's experience dealing with gas blowers).

Posted by Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:33 pm

I’m so sorry you View redwood leaf mulch as unsightly, and prefer gorilla hair, because the former is natural and native to this area, and the latter is not. While I am hardly a hardline nativist, and I do own an electric leaf blower, I almost never use it. Perhaps theee times a year. In my opinion, gas blowers should absolutely be banned. The “big jobs” will just have to go back to brooms and rakes. I find peadblowera in general massively disturbing, noise-wise, and they go completely against what PV is all about. Can we not just remembrance the sound of birds and silence?

Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 10:05 pm

We use an electric leaf blower to clear off our roof and driveway, especially when it is about to rain. When the batteries run out (we rotate 2 batteries, but really need more for any job over 20 minutes) we rake or sweep. We would never consider using a leaf blower over soil or planted areas (or letting a gardener do so). From time to time we have had a gardener blow leaves off the roof and the driveway, always collecting them for mulching in our back yard. The gardener uses a gas-powered blower, at the lowest possible setting for the work. The sound is barely audible off site.

What people are advocating for here, in my o0inion, is a ban on a tool because it is mis-used by some (many?). Shall we ban cars because people run stop signs and drive dangerously? I see as many complaints on our local PVForum about dangerous driving as I do about leaf blower noise. Maybe banning gas-powered leaf blowers will be a popular choice, and I will appreciate quieter Thursdays (it seems that all of our neighbors' gardeners descend on that day, even on Thanksgiving!).

We already have a noise ordinance that addresses power tools. Has that been adequately enforced? If not, how will a ban be enforced? Will the Sheriff's Office respond to citizen complaints, or will that be handled by Town staff? We run a pretty lean staff, and this could be a full-time job.

PS - my standard minor rant: I appreciate commenters who use their real names. This is not a national security issue, why not participate in a way that shows you are willing to stand up for your opinions? Fear of reprisal? I believe community civility would be enhanced by eliminating anonymous commenting. After all, if you attend a public meeting to voice your opinions or concerns, everyone knows who said what. Is that a problem for so many?

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