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Atherton to begin exploring gas-powered leaf blower restrictions

Original post made on Sep 11, 2019

After a study session debate about whether Atherton town staff has the time to explore limiting leaf blower use in town, council members asked staff to estimate the amount of time it would take to look into the topic.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 9:31 AM

Comments (10)

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2019 at 10:32 am

"To understand what we're trying to accomplish, I have to understand what the issues are and I don't understand what the issues are,"
Councilman Cary Wiest also said he wasn't interested in devoting time to the discussion.
All of which leaves me to the question is councilman Wiest a Donald Trump appointee?

a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 11, 2019 at 12:29 pm

or a Trump donor ?

a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 11, 2019 at 12:44 pm

How about a solution that costs the gardners NOTHING: Eliminate blowers of all types (unless you have large cheeks).

Let the homeowners figure out if paying their gardner to use a rake and broom is really worth keeping their driveways & walkways pristine.

Comment below from the Almanac archives:
"In January, the Portola Valley Town Council amended an existing noise ordinance to ban the use of gasoline-powered blowers. The council agreed to a two-year delay before the regulations go into effect to allow gardeners and homeowners to replace their equipment."

Posted by MC
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:20 pm

I agree that leaf blowers are as bad or worse than noise pollution from airplanes. A crew with rakes and brooms can do the same job with less noise and no pollution but maybe not quite as pristine and it takes a small crew for a large property, or more time for that blower turned rake and broom user. So I say let the gardeners make more money and spend the time. Also allow only electric blowers, and allow them only one day per week...maybe Tuesdays.

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Memberone. Agreed, no power blowers of any kind.
Two years to buy a rake in PV!

Posted by menlo parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:21 pm

menlo parent is a registered user.

You’re absolutely right, Memberone. Eliminating leaf blowers would cost gardeners nothing, while having the added benefit of protecting them from high frequency hearing loss, inhalation of pollutants, and back injury. Why we impose these horrible machines on them just so they can blow dirt around is beyond me. Pay for an extra half hour and let them use a rake, for Pete’s sake. Healthier for everyone.

Posted by Sensible
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 12, 2019 at 9:08 am

Anyone who thinks "a rake and broom" can replace air-blowers for removing fallen debris in the their yard are sadly mistaken. Try raking or sweeping fallen leaves or Redwood fronds from any patch of ground-cover or ivy. Doesn't work! Blowers are an essential tool but the decibel level MUST be limited by law. The town of Burlingame has stickers its public works manager will apply to any gardener's blower when they bring it in for a decibel test. That's sensible and effective. Problem solved.

Posted by westatherton
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Sep 12, 2019 at 10:19 am

westatherton is a registered user.

Large commercial landscape firms seem to train their staff to use leaf blowers properly. They are designed to be used like a broom or rake. Most of the gardeners in Atherton seem to be smaller crews that are independently operated. Many of the gardeners working in crews in Atherton use the leaf blowers indiscriminately. They keep the blower on continuously, not in short bursts, and they blow anything and everything off the property that they are assigned to, and often times its just dirt that they are moving around. They are understandably in a hurry but they get noise blocking headmuffs so they are oblivious.

This is true for my own gardener, a very nice independent firm and staff but they come over from another city and when asked about battery powered leaf blowers they say it would be unfair to have them use them if everyone is not required to do so, especially with pressure to keep the service fees low. However I am loathe to change my gardener just because of the blower and obviously it's human nature to only hate the neighbor's leaf blower noise, not your own.

The landscape fees may go up but what is the collective price we would be willing to pay for more tranquility in our neighborhoods?

It is a reality that many residents of Atherton spend the day at home, including those who have the opportunity to work from home. It is hard to find a day in the weekdays where there is peace and quiet especially from 10am to 4pm when the gardening crews are most active.

What may make the Town Council (and Town staff) more interested is a new set of licensing fees to require garden/landscape firms in Atherton to get permitted, as well as penalties that would be leviable against firms who violate the Town policies.

This is a huge market which is obvious when seeing the sheer number of compost bins that are along the street on a typical Atherton home. All of those leaves came from somewhere.

I am strongly supportive of the Town Council taking the time to look at this issue and compare what other neighboring municipalities have done.

Posted by Snipview
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 12, 2019 at 11:06 am

whatever, MEMBERONE, rather than dragging the President into this, why don't you ask your gardener to use battery powered leaf blowers as some of us have done?

a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 12, 2019 at 5:29 pm

Dearest Snipview,
Member "whatever" initiated the discussion about our POTUS. I merely clarified an issue.
More important than that: I do NOT have a gardner. And I do not use a blower of any type and my landscaping looks just fine.
Please tell me what the difference between a batt'y operated blower and an electric or gas powered blower is when it comes to elevating carcinogens in the air...for days.
Look within yourself before you make assumptions about others.

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