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Are Leaf Blowers Getting a Bad Rap? |

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Are Leaf Blowers Getting a Bad Rap?
Are Leaf Blowers Getting a Bad Rap?


The following quoted comments were taken from the Cleveland Park Listserv.  To see the full story, and all the opinions involved, please visit www.cleveland-park.com:

“I've had it with these loud leaf blowers. Neighbors aren't getting the message that many of us hate them. I'm ready to explore the next step. What does it take to get them banned? Or is the problem enforcement? Here's an idea: if a blower is too loud to use without ear protection, then it's too loud to be used. Anyway, I'm looking for suggestions on how to ban them from the neighborhood.” 

Yes, noise can affect the general health and well-being of District residents. In the noisiest parts of the city, the sounds of cars, trucks, buses, helicopters, and sirens seem almost constant. Even in relatively quiet parts of the city, car alarms and leaf blowers are sources of constant annoyance. But no matter where you are, maintaining "peace and quiet" is a common expectation, seldom met in our bustling city. Here in Cleveland Park, some people would even like to ban the troublesome leaf blowers completely from the neighborhood.

“Noise. Spreading pollen, dust, fecal material. Wasting energy. Adding to air pollution. There are better ways to care for lawns than with loud, gas-powered leaf blowers. Remember, we're not talking about occasional leaf blower use in October only. Leaf blowers are now being used all year long, and that's a big change. Some people are subjected to multiple leaf blowers every week, or multiple times per week.“

Believe it or not, there are regulations in the District regarding the operation of leaf blowers.  The rules are pretty simple: leaf blowers can’t be louder than 70 decibels and can’t be used between the hours of 8:30 pm and 8:00 am.

So what’s the problem?

“I would not blast loud music from my house, because it would annoy my neighbors. I doubt you would either. So why can't we encourage that same kind of thoughtfulness when it comes to yard work? You may or may not care about climate change, but if you do, that's another reason to care about the use of these high-emission engines.”

Can we really compare the lonely leaf blower to loud music?  Different sounds are controlled differently in DC regulations. Some noises like those of safety signals, emergency vehicles, fire, ambulances, police, etc. are exempt from “noise control.” The use of portable power tools, home snow removal equipment, powered equipment for minor repairs, and power garden devices excluding leaf blowers, is allowed only on weekdays.

“Leaf blowers keep us from:

* Sitting outside
* Sleeping (let's hope that it's not an air traffic controllers house that has a leaf blower nearby)
* Working, if you work at home
* Enjoying a quiet meal
* Walking on the sidewalk next to where a leaf blower is in operation

For the sake of your neighbors please don't use them. Whenever you use a leaf blower, it's guaranteed that you're disturbing multiple neighbors.”

So what are we to do about the leaf blower?   While it is a nuisance at times, it is reasonably controlled by noise regulations. Yes, it is exempt at times, but what more is there to do? We live in a city filled with all sorts of noises.

Did you know that the unamplified voice is also exempt from noise regulations? 

It could easily be argued that the human noise should be regulated—especially the noise coming from rowdy patrons leaving Cleveland Park bars at 2 am. This noise pollution comes at a time when most are trying to sleep—leaf blowers hardly ever cause this problem!

We all prefer to enjoy peace and quiet at times and disruptions abound in this city. There are a lot more sounds than those produced by the leaf blower that disturb the “quiet” in the city.

What of the Sunday church bells, or the solid waste compactors that visit once a week?  Fire and police sirens screech and the steady sound of traffic hums along all day. Are these sounds any better? Are we just more used to them?

I think the leaf blower is getting a bad rap. We live in a city. There is commotion, activity, and constant sound. Sit back for a minute and you’ll hear so many—and maybe even sit back, relax, and enjoy the music of the city.