Ordinance Regulating Leaf Blowers A Possible Step Towards Complete Ban

by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes

A proposed ordinance regulating the commercial use of gas-powered leaf blowers was moved to a first reading in November by City Council on Wednesday, but it may be a small step towards a complete ban that could go beyond the leaf blower.

Under the proposed ordinance, gas-powered leaf blowers would be permitted for commercial use from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Councilman Jason Maughan, who worked on drafting the ordinance, was alarmed to learn the city did not have regulations on commercial use of leaf blowers and said the appropriate action is to “curtail the use between what are socially acceptable hours to the community.”

Committee of the Islands Environmental Committee Chair Barbara Joy Cooley has been advocating on behalf of many concerned citizens for a complete ban on gas-powered leaf blowers based on noise and air pollution issues caused by these lawn-care tools. She cited a study done two years ago by the California Air Resources Board that showed the best-selling commercial gas-powered leaf blower operated for one hour emits air pollutants comparable to driving a 2017 Toyota Camry 1,100 miles.

This ordinance is a baby step by regulating the times, but does not do anything about air pollution,” said Cooley.

She also pointed to the successful enactment of a leaf blower ordinance in the Village of Key Biscanye, a town on a barrier island across the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami. It’s one of 107 communities with different levels of leaf blower restrictions as of 2017, according to the Quiet Communities Organization. Cooley called upon the council to step up to the challenge. “You are excellent environmental leaders,” she said. “….this is an air quality and pollution problem we can do something about.”

Councilman Richard Johnson, who was in full support of regulating the hours of operation, questioned whether the measure went far enough. “Our constituents are seeking an outright ban,” he said. “This ordinance is a short-term solution, maybe we should look at how to craft a long-term solution.”

Sanibel resident Mike Miller encouraged council to consider a ban with a transition or grace period. “I think it would be an effective compromise between those constituents that want relief from the noise and air pollution and also reflecting concerns of those who feel the effectiveness of the technology is not where it should be,” he said. “Battery technology is advancing significantly and proof of that is in the e-bike…Sanibel needs to get ahead of the curve.”

Johnson and Sanibel resident Mary Ann Bell further raised the point of leaf blowers not being the only contributing factor to noise and air pollution. Bell agreed with having a full ban on leaf blowers and said she believes air quality is every bit as important as water quality, but noise pollution is part of the problem.

The thing before us today is a noise regulation and I’m not prepared to leave that off the table in order to attempt to grab more,” said Maughan. “I would like to deal with that today and I’m quite happy to listen to anybody else who wants to work on the issue or expand it out into a ban, but my immediate issue is these need to be regulated.”


Comments (7)

  1. A problem just as huge as leaf blowers is the weed whackers/string/blade/cutters etc. that are used to go around beds and mulched trees, etc., etc. I’ve seen the workers, big ear protectors covering their ears of course, use them for large sections of grass instead of a mower. I hear them constantly, every day of the week. Not as much on Sunday, as that is usually the home owner do-it-yourself guy.

  2. Please comment on low noise , no air
    Pollution , battery powered leaf blowers.
    These are available in the market place.
    Robert Fox , Captiva

  3. I hope residents and property owners are prepared for an immediate and significant increase in landscape maintenance costs. I understand the motivation for cleaner air and quieter neighborhoods, but outfitting crews with the latest battery-powered gear is expensive. But why stop with gas blowers? The noise and pollution issues apply to all landscape maintenance equipment. Marine engines are also massively polluting. Let’s ban all gas and diesel boat motors while we are at it.

    • Barbara Joy Cooley

      The difference with leaf blowers is that they are ubiquitous and alternatives exist.

    • I completely agree. I feel that the 9 am law is reasonable, but I truly feel battery powered equipment cannot feasibly produce the same cfm output as a stihl br450 for example. Obviously I’m one of those workers. Switching to battery powered equipment just won’t produce enough power to get the job done. Maintenance employees will not have the same capability to perform quality maintenance work.

  4. 7:30 am Sunday November 10, 2019. Battery powered leaf blower at it again. I am trying to sip coffee on the last few mornings of peace and quiet before returning to NJ and work. This is a regular, as in every day, occurrence. Also of note is that while he is blowing stuff from one place to another, he is on his cell phone. But finally it’s turned off and the one leaf he was chasing down is placed back in the bed under the shrub where it escaped from. Well done! So could the discussion possibly be “why do the guys use this equipment anyway?” Go watch them and see how they blow your dirt to your neighbors yard and then his guy comes along and blows it all back. Is it really necessary?

  5. We know the harm and stress these noisy machines have on human but imagine the effects these have on animals and insects. Leaf blowers must be banned. Yes, I use a good old fashion rake and broom.

    I’m ready to do something about this matter ASAP

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.