San Mateo considers ban on leaf blowers

January 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
San Mateo is the latest city looking into the controversy over noisy leaf-blowing machines. Several Bay Area cities have already enacted restrictions. The San Mateo City Council Members are getting an education in San Mateo Central Park by taking a look at a variety of leaf blowers, before they make any decisions.

One city official told ABC7 News there are nearly 400 landscaping and gardening businesses in San Mateo. That can give you an idea of the magnitude of this issue.

Yes, they are noisy. Yes there are environmental concerns, but landscapers say leaf blowers get the job done efficiently.

"If we went back to the rake and broom, it would take us much longer and our bottom line and our overhead would be a lot more, so we would have to charge more," said Steve Jaurigui from Bay Pointe Landscape.

That scenario could become reality. The city of San Mateo is considering three options: banning all leaf blowers, allowing those with noise levels 65 decibels or less, or beefing up enforcement of the current ordinance which permits the devices from Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's the prospect of a total ban that worries landscapers, like Logan Campbell from Sustainable Landscape & Gardening, who has been in operation less than a year and says that would kill his business.

"Hopefully, they'll listen to homeowners and the business owners and take our livelihoods into consideration and hopefully we'll figure out a plan that works for everybody," said Campbell.

Before a decision is made, the city is holding a listen and learn session, showing council members and the public the latest and greatest equipment.

"We're going to review different types of leaf blowers that are on the market, so review the gas-powered blowers that are commonly used, as well as electric and lithium powered leaf blowers," said San Mateo city analyst Christina Gilmore.

"I'm not sure how environmentally good that is for the environment, whereas a broom and dustpan doesn't affect that. So I don't know. I don't like them, no," said San Mateo resident Margret Staphorsius.

The council is not expected to make a decision before March and, by the way, whatever the members decide to do, would affect the city itself since they also use leaf blowers in more than 30 parks. A change would be quite a challenge.


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