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Leaf Blower Bans In California in 2013 - News Update: Despite Law, the Leaf Blower Prevails

First Posted: Sep 12, 2013 09:51 AM EDT
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It's the bane of many residing near gardens and yards throughout the US, whirring leaf blowers fueled by loud two-stroke engine buzzing incessantly on a weekly or daily basis.

Manned by gardeners as an alternative to the broom, blowers are commonly used as a shortcut to sweeping dirt from concrete. They are also utilized by many misguided yard keepers to rid flower or garden beds of plant and organic matter -- an odd practice considering said matter serves to nurture most gardens as natural fertilizer.

In addition to their obvious noise issues and superfluous purpose, leaf blowers pose multiple health risks due to air pollution attributed to their use. The pollution comes in the form of unburned fuel, from the inefficient combustion process inherent in such devices, and from a mixture of fine particles blown into the air, particles that can go deep into the human lungs. 

In turn many councils and organizations from LA to Miami, the Hamptons to Florda have endeavored to ban the device. To address these concerns and others, many cities have banned leaf blowers; and Santa Monica has recently renewed its commitment to the enforcement of its leaf blower ban, which has been in place since 1991.

According to the law (S.M.M.C. 4.08.270) No person shall operate any leaf blower (gas, electric, or battery powered) within the City. A leaf blower is defined as any motorized tool (gas, electric, or battery powered) used to propel fallen leaves and debris for removal. Infractions will be punishable by substantial fines to property owners, property and landscape management companies, individual operators, and/or water customers.

Still, in an economy dogged by emissions, fuel efficiency and carbon footprints, no nationwide legislation or utilitarian political stance has yet to prevail over the use of the leaf blower.

Meanwhile, the argument might be nicely summarized by Northern California-based author and academic Andrew Weil -- twice on the cover of Time magazine, author of ten books, and "The voice of reason in a deeply divided world," according to the San Francisco Examiner. "When it comes to really bad ideas, the leafblower ranks right up there with adding lead to gasoline and using CFCs in aerosols. Leafblowers are diabolical machines. Even if the claims their promoters make for them were true, the damage leafblowers do outweighs such meager benefits by many, many orders of magnitude," he says.

"Using these hideously noisy, highly polluting machines on sidewalks and driveways is bad enough. Turning them on lawns and gardens, beneath shrubs, between hedges, and around the trunks of trees -- as everyone is obviously doing these days -- is irrational. Unless, that is, the people who are doing it are landscape professionals, in which case it is negligent, almost to the point of criminal."

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