Letter to Senator Polanco concerning SB1651:
Dear Senator Polanco,
I am surprised at your bill to ban leaf blower bans. Communities should be able to ban leaf blowers. They are too noisy!
I live in Sacramento on xxxxxx Blvd. We own a townhouse in the Sierra Meadows complex directly behind the xxxxxxx Shopping Plaza and the xxxxxxx office building which are on xxxx xxxx Blvd.. My husband and I privately call it leaf blower hell. I have called and written letters to both of their property management companies to complain about the noise and pollution. They continue to use leaf blowers. One day I borrowed a sound meter. The readings I got were between 70 and 80 decibels and 90 decibels over by the fence when their leaf blower was directly on the other side.
You are welcome to come and have breakfast or coffee any morning between 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. seven days a week including holidays. You will see and hear for yourself how leaf blowers have drastically impacted our lives. Most days you are guaranteed to hear a leaf blower.
On Thursdays our own gardeners are at Sierra Meadows and they are in the neighborhood where I work, so one day a week I listen to leaf blowers all day long and the smell of gas in our home is too much to bear.
Please reconsider the purpose of your bill and ruining any chance we have of improving our own quality of life.
Letter in response to recent letter to the editor of the Palo Alto Daily News:
April 23, 1998
Mr. Thomas Stebringer
Palo Alto CA
Re: Your March 31 letter to the editor of the Palo Alto Daily News about leaf blowers
Dear Mr. Stebringer:
This is the detailed response to your questions that the 250-word limit in the Palo Alto Daily News did not permit me to make in that paper.
You say, "[The proposed leaf blower ban] is an unfair attempt to hurt working gardeners..." Ban proponents are not attempting to hurt working gardeners. We want to protect everyone, including gardeners, from blowers' noise and pollution. We believe it hurts working gardeners far more to expose them to sound levels sure to damage their hearing. No gas blower on the market makes less than 69 decibels at 50 feet. That equates to over 90 dB at the operator's ear, well into the danger zone. Experts such as Dr. Alice Suter and the American Academy of Otolaryngology agree that hearing protectors often provide inadequate protection (and we all know they're not always worn!).
Although those who hire gardeners are no doubt more affluent than the gardeners, my point was that the victims of the noise are often not affluent. For example, in Sacramento many of the most ardent supporters of a ban are people of low or average incomes, living in the central city or near commercial areas, who must live with blower noise for hours at a time from maintenance of apartment buildings, shopping centers, offices, or government buildings. For instance, I live in a neighborhood bordering a commercial area, and many of the office buildings have their maintenance done on Saturdays. Consequently I sometimes hear blower noise all day long on Saturdays. Of course the owners know the noise is irritating--that's why they arrange for it when their tenants are gone! I can not go out into my garden to prune a rose without being repeatedly driven inside by blower noise.
My own experience is my proof that blowers create an unacceptable level of interference with work and leisure. Before I testified at our Environmental Commission meeting last July, I kept a diary of blower noise. On a bad day, I heard eight blowers a day, some for up to an hour at a time. There are never "days [that] go by when I don't hear even one" as you claim is your experience. Many other members of Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento have stories similar to mine, or worse. I know people who are awakened every single morning by blowers used to clean a recently constructed shopping center behind their condominium. I know people who often look out their apartment window to see multiple blowers going on their street. I know people who have given up walking or jogging in their own neighborhoods because they can never find a time when blowers aren't going.
How do we know that gardeners have not lost jobs in cities that have banned blowers? Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento surveyed 14 California cities with leaf blower bans last fall. We spoke to public officials and asked how their bans were working and if gardeners had been driven out of business. We did not hear a single report of gardeners losing jobs. Responses included, "There are still plenty of gardeners working in Berkeley" and "Gardeners are alive and well in Los Altos." Claremont reported that gardeners had not quit working there and rates hadn't even increased. In recent testimony in the California State Senate, not one witness came forward who had been put out of work by a ban.
So why do gardeners oppose blower bans? Perhaps they have been misled by the sellers and manufacturers. What better evidence than the report in the Palo Alto Daily News that the leader of the Bay Area Gardeners Association is a blower salesman?! Or the December 3, 1997 Wall Street Journal report on a meeting between an Echo lobbyist and Los Angeles' Association of Latin American Gardeners? Echo is a company of which Consumers Union has said, "We have a very low tolerance for companies that make false claims to consumers about their products, and an equally low tolerance for companies that make false statements about our test procedures..." Echo was publicly scolded at a recent meeting of the California Air Resources Board for sending out a misleading letter to its distributors about pending regulations.
Mr. Stebringer, it's not just "your business" when you pollute the environment we all must share. Do you also insist on your right to drive your car around without a smog certificate, or dump toxic waste down the storm drains? It is just such antisocial, irresponsible, and selfish attitudes that make laws necessary.
cc: Palo Alto City Council
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