Town Square

Menlo Park again mulls a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers

Original post made on Nov 18, 2021

Twenty-three years after Menlo Park voters halted a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, the city is once again thinking of enacting one.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 18, 2021, 10:21 AM


Posted by menlo parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 18, 2021 at 1:10 pm

menlo parent is a registered user.

Yes. Please.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It makes no sense to ban a specific technology instead of imposing noise limits on all types of garden equipment.

If ICE (internal combustion engines) cannot meet a reasonable noise limit then they can be prohibited and if electric blowers exceed the same noise limit then they should be banned.

Posted by sjtaffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 18, 2021 at 7:48 pm

sjtaffee is a registered user.

The banning of gasoline powered leaf blowers is a good start toward lowering air and noise pollution in MP. My suggestion for enforcement is to warn, cite, and then fine homeowners who allow this practice on their property. It will be a lot easier than trying to track down the gardeners who are constantly on the move. Home owners should also be allow gardeners to plug into their household energy supply for corded blowers and/or offer recharging outlets for cordless blowers. Alternatively, the could purchase an electric blower for their home and instruct the gardeners to use it when on their property.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 19, 2021 at 8:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If we want to control chemical emissions as well as noise then set standards for both.

And then whatever blowers using any technology that meets those standards is permitted and those blowers using any technology are prohibited.

Design based regulations inhibit innovation while performance based regulations encourage innovation.

Posted by Lash
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 19, 2021 at 11:32 am

Lash is a registered user.

Gasoline powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers and chains saws all cause substantially more pollution than cars. I have seen some older studies but nothing recent so I won't quote them for now.

Regardless, I fail to see the issue as a noise problem. If the plan to is ban ICE lawn maintenance devices then let's also ban all ICE. Ridiculous, first world entitlement issue.

I have to agree with Kathleen Daly from Zoe Cafe, this is an unfair burden on service workers. Easy target to attack service workers vs making home owners responsible for their gardeners' choices.... Maybe that's the answer... craft the enforcement side of this to make the home owners responsible for what is used to maintain their lawns.... then watch the city council cower.

Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 22, 2021 at 10:16 am

Menlo Park Parent is a registered user.

Gas leaf blowers are a significant noise and air pollution problem in Menlo Park and the sooner they are banned the better. They constantly disrupt the peace and their aggravating noise is audible from inside my house, from several houses away, even with all (double paned) windows and doors closed. Their noise travels for more than a block, and their noise and fumes make it unpleasant to take a walk during the day. I am seeing more of them used on weekends and holidays as well, and they are constantly used illegally on Spare the Air days.

It's good to take into consideration equity issues, however, here, there is no equity issue that would prevent a ban. I have spoken to a number of gardeners about gas leaf blowers--many of them already have electric blowers, which they use at the request of their clients. If some gardeners have electric blowers, among their thousands of dollars worth of equipment, then I'm not sure what the argument is that they are financially unobtainable for others. The city also could implement an incentive program to trade in gas blowers for electric models. Penalties for illegal use should be levied against homeowners, not against gardeners.

The police have been good about responding quickly to my calls about violations, and visiting gardeners to explain the rules (despite the oft repeated baseless concern that it’s impossible for police to arrive in time, while the gardener is still there). Some enforcement of a total ban will be necessary, but I don’t see enforcement as an issue that should prevent a ban, in fact, it would be simpler for all if these things were banned outright.

The state has banned the sale of these machines, starting in 2024, but this won’t stop their use, and certainly not before then. Other cities have enacted bans, Menlo Park can do it too.

Posted by David Roise
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 23, 2021 at 1:42 pm

David Roise is a registered user.

There is already an ordinance on the books that prohibits the use of "non-certified leaf blowers" in Menlo Park. See Web Link The ordinance also limits the use of "certified leaf blowers" to the hours of 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and prohibits their use on Spare the Air days. The ordinance defines "certified leaf blowers" as meaning "only those leaf blowers measured at sixty-five (65) dB(a) or less at a distance of fifty feet (50’) by an independent laboratory per American National Standards Institute ("ANSI") standard B175.2-1996, as certified by the manufacturer. (Ord. 895 § 3 (part), 1999)."

If Peter Carpenter were correct that setting standards for the use of leaf blowers would solve the problem, we wouldn't be having this discussion, since there is already a standard in place, at least with respect to noise. The problem is 1) the leaf blower industry doesn't seem willing or able to manufacture leaf blowers that meet the above standard, and 2) Menlo Park police don't seem willing or able to enforce the existing prohibition on "non-certified leaf blowers".

If I could wave a magic wand, I would ban the use of all 2-stroke engines in Menlo Park, since as pointed out by others above, it's not just the noise, it's the pollution. I would also impose fines on homeowners who allow these infernal devices to be used on their property.

Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 23, 2021 at 1:50 pm

Iris is a registered user.

This is low-hanging fruit to address climate change and to improve health.
Could there be a fund established for bridging the cost gap for lower-income gardeners to replace their equipment?

Posted by krswitky
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 24, 2021 at 9:11 am

krswitky is a registered user.

It's high time that Menlo Park follow the lead of many other cities in banning these noisy, polluting machines that harm the workers who use them. Like David Roise above, I wish we could ban all two-stroke engines (the worst in both noise and pollution), and indeed - all leaf blowers, for they do irreparable harm to our soils. But this is a good start, and I hope City staff and the Council move swiftly on this matter.