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Fairfax Council Moves Forward with Leaf Blower Restrictions

Do you think the town should ban or restrict leaf blowers? Tell us in the comments.

 

All five Fairfax Town council members appeared supportive of some sort of leaf blower restriction when they discussed the topic at their Dec. 5 meeting.

A petition consisting of more than 42 hand-written pages and more than 1,000 signatures was delivered to the town in October, triggering a look at the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.

Fairfax Mayor John Reed said the topic has “definitely been on the radar” in town.

In San Anselmo, someone can only use a motorized leaf blower from 1 to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays for no longer than thirty minutes at a time per property.

Councilmember Ryan O’Neil mentioned a few concerns he has about banning gas leaf blowers — citing how important they are when it comes to clearing hilly areas to prevent flooding as well as how they provide are a safer way to do household chores, such as cleaning roof gutters.

Fairfax resident John Sergeant told the council he was opposed to a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, which the council was originally discussing.

“When we have rain, electric leaf blowers just don’t cut it. They don’t have enough power to move wet loads,” he said.

He once had a loud gas leaf blower and, out of concern for his neighbors, purchased an expensive gas leaf blower that’s significantly quieter, he said. “If someone says their baby is sleeping at 3’o clock in the afternoon, then I’m happy to do the leaf blowing at another time,” he said. 

He said he feels the town is overregulating the lives of others. “I know I’m older and living in the past times, but I like the idea of neighbors being able to work with each other and show consideration instead of having regulations that ban something completely,” said Sergeant, who has lived in Fairfax for more than 40 years.

Sergeant continued playfully. “In my neighborhood the irritating noise for me is from children and babies yelling, but I don’t want to ban that.” Everyone in the council chambers erupted into laughter.

He asked the council to not consider a complete ban and to instead look at different regulations or limitations that could be put in place.

He also pointed out that the petition had many signatures of people who don’t live in Fairfax. “There’s Chicago, Ohio, New York and even Sean from Ireland,” he said, generating a few chuckles in the room.

The petition, which has a majority of Fairfax signatures, does also include residents of San Anselmo, Woodacre, San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley, Sonoma, Point Reyes, San Francisco, Larkspur, Ontario, Berkeley, Colorado, Greenbrae, Pleasanton, Ireland, Brooklyn and Ohio, among other locations. See the staff report for the item, with the petition, attached at the right. 

Fairfax resident Mark Bell said was happy the council was discussing leaf blowers. “I think for the most part, rakes do a really good job 80 to 90 percent of the time. I think it’s a really good idea to either get a decibel ban or get rid of the commercial [blowers] in a residential area.” 

He also suggested the town allow leaf blowers once or twice a month — on essentially a leaf-blowing day. “It could be an open day where you can go wild with your leaf blower,” he said, making several people in the audience laugh.

The council members discussed elements they liked in the town of Ross’s ordinance, which restricts unnecessary noise and limits the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers to the hours of 9 a.m. through 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Town staff will bring the leaf blower item back to the council at a later date for additional discussion. 

 

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Guy Dagar December 07, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Twice a week we have to endure more than two hours of "leaf blowing" where we live in Fairfax. They are the loudest machines I've ever heard. They are so loud we can barely hear ourselves talk. Gas blowers also pollute the air, not just by their exhaust, but by all the dust and pollen they stir up and put into the air. We have to put towels and rugs against the bottom of the doors to keep the dust and debris from getting in; we have to shut all our windows tightly as well. To old-fashioned Mister Sergeant, have you ever heard of brooms? Leaf blowers should be banned completely, not restricted or limited to certain hours or certain days. No matter when they are used they will disturb someone.
Sierra Salin December 07, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Leaf blowers are a waste. I personally do not know how humans ever lived or survived for all history before now without them, and go out in what is left of nature any day, and walk around on a ridge. I guarantee that one of the main things you will hear, are leafblowers..... Give this a read. One leafblower can be as bad as 80 cars... http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/blogs/green-products-services/leaf-blowers-55102003 http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/blogs/green-products-services/leaf-blowers-55102003
Carol Conway December 07, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I find it ironic that a Town which has banned the use of plastic bags still allows such polluting (noise and air) machinery.
Stacy December 07, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I asbolutely support a ban. The health impact to people and pets should be considered as well. As noted in the article pasted above, leaf blowers stir up the mold, allergens, and dust particles that otherwise have been tamped down with rain and decomposition, which aggrivates asthma and allergies. Even the EPA has stated that leaf blowers are an obvious source of particulate matter (PM) emissions. PM has been implicated as being responsible for a wide variety of adverse health effects that have been shown in epidemiological studies to contribute to premature deaths. Let's go back to using rakes and brooms!
sanford miles December 07, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I HATE THE THINGS BUT. I HATE MORE IS A GOVERNING BODY TELLING ME WHAT I CAN AND CANT DO. WELL IT COULD GIVE THE POLICE SOMETHING TO DO BESIDES BARKING DOGS.
Leonard Crosby December 07, 2012 at 06:50 PM
let the leaves pileup so the city will have to pay to clean the drains. solve one problem and create another.
valeri hood December 07, 2012 at 07:40 PM
The people that I see using leaf blowers take just as long using them as it takes to rake them up- same job, less noise
Jennifer Hammond December 07, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Yes, ban them please. They are both a noise and health nuisance. I hear where Mr. Sergeant is coming from, and appreciate his comments, but sometimes you need regulation when people don't seem to understand their impact on other people. There are other ways to accomplish the same job, but people can't prevent allergic reactions, and cannot drown out the noise.
Life in the Bubble December 07, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Thank goodness for this. Now that I have an excuse not to do yard work, I have more time for practice with my speedmetal garage band.
Life in the Bubble December 08, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Holy cow! I also just realized that I may have used my (electric) leaf sucker for a few minutes at 12:30pm, clearly outside the allowable 1-4pm window. I'm not sure my neighbors heard me over the constant din of SFD traffic, but I feel terrible and want to turn myself in for punishment. Nevertheless, apologies to my neighbors, hope the leaf sucker didn't disturb the everyday urban cacophony of construction noise, kids, sirens, traffic, chainsaws, loud car stereos, and modified motorcycle/car exhaust pipes that permeate the Ross Valley. But hey, it's cool if we use more time, money, and other public resources on new laws rather than actually talk to our neighbors about the noise. (For those without humor, I'm kidding of course. Step one. TALK to your neighbors first. Enacting new laws is a last resort, not a first step. There are much better uses of taxpayer dollars- like fixing the zillion potholes in Fairfax).
sanford miles December 08, 2012 at 12:47 AM
YOU HIT THE NAIL RIGHT ON THE HEAD. FOR A CHANGE TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOR., YES TALK. PEOPLE STILL DO THAT DONT THEY.
Nick Mason December 08, 2012 at 02:03 AM
I wish every city in Marin would consider similar legislation. Mill Valley has something on the books I believe. I live in a normally tranquil and picturesque neighborhood in Novato, and 2-3 times per week that peace is shattered sometimes as early as 8:30 in the morning by some retired yahoo with nothing better to do except blast the whole neighborhood every time there is a smattering of leaves on the ground. I have talked to him. I think he gets some smug satisfaction out of annoying everyone around him.
ACG December 08, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Reject ACG 7:28 am on Saturday, December 8, 2012 Leafblowing laws are usually migrant worker laws under the table. Why not ban lawn mowers and chains saws. They polute just the same and are actually louder than leaf blowers.
David Blue December 08, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Fairfax is not a leaf-blower type of town. Danville is, so is Palm Springs, so is Scottsdale, Arizona. But Fairfax? No way. Where else does the bicycle reign king? What other place has poetry readings in the park? Why do you think the people behind Good Earth chose Fairfax? The town has its own vibe; that's what makes it special, and machines that stir up dust while letting everyone within earshot know 'so and so' is cleaning up leaves, well, it don't fit. Ban 'em!
Average Joe December 08, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The Essex center in San Anselmo starts their blowers every Monday at 7:30 am. They've been confronted by neighbors/ reported to the police for years, yet it's the same thing every Monday. You guys can pass all the laws you want but it doesn't matter if law enforcement considers it a low priority.
Jory Prum December 09, 2012 at 04:11 AM
While leafblowers are noisy, annoying, and generally unnecessary, I'm always surprised at how little folks discuss the allergy problem they cause for folks like me. There's nothing like having all the pollens stirred up and thrown back into the air every day because someone can't use a rake.
Jory Prum December 09, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Leaf sucker is not the same as leaf blower. Personally, I don't have nearly as much issue with something that vacuums leaves rather than circulating pollens needlessly. Sure, the noise is irritating, but that's less of a concern to me.
Jesse3 December 09, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Yeah, go bitch at your neighbor and tell him you don't like his lazy, inconsiderate behavior. He'll understand.
Tom Sullivan December 14, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Instead of a leaf blower, there are lawn sweepers which you simply push along or tow behind a riding mower. No blowing dust particles into the air, no need for a city truck to come along and suck them up. No additional engines running, unless you use the tow behind type, which you would already be running you mower engine as you cut your lawn. Andy the push lawn sweepers are cheaper than most decent leaf blowers too! http://www.leafblowersdirect.com/lawn/lawn-sweepers.html

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