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1999 Update

On June 1 the California Assembly passed AB 1609 (Cardenas) and AB 1544 (Granlund) overturning 19 of the 20 leaf blower bans now law in California cities and creating major obstacles to new bans. The bills would make it unlikely that cities could enact even modest restrictions on the noisy machines, such as banning them on Sundays or holidays. (Among Sacramento Assembly Members, Pescetti supported the bills; Steinberg did not; and Cox supported AB 1544 but not AB 1609).

The bills are unlikely to become law. In the Assembly Local Government Committee meeting preceding the floor vote, it was publicly announced that both authors had promised their bills would not pass the Senate this year. Why it was important to pass the Assembly, or why apparently arms were twisted and deals were made is a mystery to outsiders.

During the floor debate, Cardenas called blower bans "an attack on hardworking people" as if hardworking people weren't also apartment dwellers and urban residents, some of whom work nights, who need their sleep and their peace in their hours off work, but are often tormented by leaf blowers for hours on end from maintenance of apartments, shopping centers, parking garages, etc. He ignored the dangers of blowers to the gardeners themselves, even though it is well known that noise as loud as the typical blower can damage the user's hearing (among other problems).

Cardenas described work without blowers as too hard on gardeners' bodies, and nobody even questioned that assertion. In our opinion, raking and sweeping are not backbreaking work! There may be difficult things about landscape maintenance. For instance, being in the hot sun all day. Lifting heavy equipment into and out of their trucks. Walking around with 30 pounds strapped to their backs, making enough noise to deafen them and disturb entire neighborhoods. But not sweeping!

In other 1999 legislative activity, Senator Polanco's bill SB 1267 failed in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Senator Burton's resolution SCR 19 was passed by both houses. This resolution directs the California Air Resources Board to prepare a report on the health effects of leaf blowers. For information about that project, see http://arbis.arb.ca.gov/msprog/leafblow/leafblow.htm. For more information about the bills, consult http://www.sen.ca.gov.

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