Are you as tired of hearing about leaf blowers as you are of hearing them? You’re not alone. Leaf blowers have been a problem for many residents in Sonoma Valley for years, and the problem has only gotten worse, not better, in that time.
After six years of negotiations, the Sonoma City Council passed an ordinance on March 21, 2016 that permits the use of electric or battery-powered leaf blowers in city limits, but prohibits all gas-powered leaf blowers. Now, a few individuals are circulating a petition to overturn this hard won compromise, asking residents to say “no” before giving the new ordinance a chance.
The following will help you understand what you are being asked to sign. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision if and when you are asked to sign this petition.
The Sonoma City Council recently passed an ordinance to ALLOW the use of electric and battery-powered leaf blowers within city limits while PROHIBITING the use of gas-powered ones, beginning July 1, 2016.
The petition is asking the council to either:
(a) overturn their decision, or
(b) place the issue to overturn it on the ballot in November.
They say “Let the people decide.” Sounds reasonable, right?
Not so fast! Consider the following:
• Ballot measures can only be amended or tweaked with another costly and time-consuming ballot measure.
• Historically, ballot measures are used for issues of taxation, revenues, and infrastructure, not policy. A few recent articles in the Sonoma Sun help explain why:
• Even if the ordinance were to be repealed, gas-powered leaf blowers already violate the City’s own noise ordinance of 70dB. What they are really asking for is continued permission to violate a municipal code that is widely respected by law-abiding residents, visitors, and businesses in Sonoma.
The long term risks of using gas leaf blowers are well documented, and the Council and public have had over five years to review the evidence.
There is more scientific evidence than ever documenting the health and environmental threats posed by gas leaf blowers, from the American Lung Association, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Mt. Sinai Hospital Pediatric Unit, American Academy of Pediatrics, Environmental Health Perspectives, New England Journal of Medicine, and many more.
The compromise ban the Council passed had the support of landscapers, business people, homeowners, and ban opponents and proponents alike.
This compromise ordinance was the end result of an open, transparent process. More than 800 people signed a petition supporting a ban on blowers, dozens of people spoke at meetings asking for relief from leaf blowers, and the Council received an unprecedented amount of mail, heavily supporting some kind of regulation.
Leaf blowers’ 200 mph winds kick up dangerous fine particulate matter containing pesticides, fertilizer, animal feces, toxins, mold, pollen, fungal spores, carcinogens such as Roundup, etc. Our nose can filter out everyday dust and pollen, but not fine particulate matter, which can get deeply embedded in our lungs. The finest particles can even enter the bloodstream and harm organs.
The two-stroke engines used in gas leaf blowers are banned in many countries due to their dangerous emissions. Landscaping equipment is a significant source of air pollution, yet remains largely unregulated.
Many industries, including automobile manufacturers, energy, and construction are turning to green technologies to make our communities and cities quieter, cleaner, and more environmentally friendly – it’s time for residential and commercial landscaping companies to get on board.
Time to Pay it Forward
As members of our community, we are asking you to consider the future health and well-being of Sonoma’s residents, especially children, the elderly, and those with fragile health. (School District decision http://sonomasun.com/2015/11/11/gas-leafblowers-ousted-by-school-district/)
Here is Sonoma’s new Leaf Blower Ordinance.
Help our spread the word! Download and distribute our LEAF BLOWER FLYER.
Or, hear what a real life leaf blower has to say in a recent article in The New Yorker: “I Am a Leaf Blower.”