Burlingame to limit leaf blower usage 

click to enlarge Noise reduction: A new proposal before the Burlingame City Council would restrict use of leaf blowers to one weekday per week, plus weekends. - EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Examiner file photo
  • Noise reduction: A new proposal before the Burlingame City Council would restrict use of leaf blowers to one weekday per week, plus weekends.

Burlingame residents who find leaf blowers annoying may soon be annoyed just three days a week.

After one plan to limit use of the gardening machines didn’t pass muster with the City Council, a new proposal would allow the buzzing blowers to operate just one weekday, plus weekends.

The particular weekday on which residents may blow leaves would depend on their neighborhood. Homes at the southern side of the city, between Peninsula and Sanchez avenues, would be assigned Mondays for use of the machinery. Mid-Burlingame residents, between Sanchez and Adeline Drive, could use leaf blowers on Wednesdays.

Residents on the city’s north side could blow leaves on Fridays. In each case, the blowing would be tolerated only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Burlingame is one of dozens of California cities that has tried to address the concerns of residents who find the machines noxious. Some people find their incessant whine abhorrent, while others worry about the environmental and health effects of the dust and fumes they spew. 

But cities that have tried to outlaw or limit use of leaf blowers have faced blowback from gardeners who find the powerful tools indispensable, and from residents who feel that the government should not be wasting time regulating such matters.

In Burlingame, the issue arose early last year, and came to a head when a citizens’ committee recommended that the City Council either ban the tools entirely or allow only electric-powered blowers, which are typically quieter and less powerful than their gasoline-powered counterparts.

After contentious public debate, the council chose not to approve either proposal, and instead created a subcommittee aimed at bringing all sides of the debate to the table. That committee recently came up with the new proposal limiting hours and days of usage.

The plan comes with the blessing of the Redwood City-based Bay Area Gardeners Association. Organization President Jose Gonzales said gardeners are OK with the plan, as long as their customers can live with it.

One customer who isn’t OK with the plan is former Councilman Joe Galligan, who was an outspoken critic of the last proposal and doesn’t like this one any better. Although he considers himself an environmentalist, he said he opposes the government wasting time and resources on what he calls an unenforceable edict.

“I have a hybrid car, I have solar on my house, and we compost — but doing things yourself and then requiring other people to do them is, to me, two different things,” he said.

JoAnneh Nagler, a member of the committee that came up with the proposal, said homeowners need to take responsibility for the tools used on their properties and begin buying green alternatives to leaf blowers. But until such technology is more widespread, limiting the use of leaf blowers is the best option for everyone, she said.

“I think this is a really fair compromise considering where the technology is,” she said.

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Katie Worth

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Thursday, Nov 20, 2014

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