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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