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With the passage of the Los Angeles ordinance, protecting it from proposed legislation at the State level, providing a video and public opinion survey, and putting all our experiences and knowledge about this subject into this web site, ZAP members have now completed a basic framework for others to take individual or group action of their own.

We are getting back to, or going on to, other important volunteer, career, and family activities. Except for our seeking better reporting and citation accountability by the city, we are hoping future ZAP activities will be limited to updating this web site when NEW information becomes available, and checking that all links are still active. We might also post actions planned or carried out by others, so let us know if you have something to share.

Now, it's up to you. If violations continue after you have tried to obtain compliance from neighbors and their gardeners, then you have no choice but to report each and every incident.  A first report in Los Angeles results only in a warning letter to homeowner and gardener.  Repeat violations are a wanton disregard for the law by the blower user.  These reports may result in a citation, much like a parking ticket, which can be paid by mail.  However, enough of these tickets may discourage blower use in your neighborhood.

In our experience:

Where neighborhood unity on this subject does not exist, gardeners who are instructed not to use blowers by only one of their employers often are convinced that, “It’s OK in this neighborhood.”  Even when instructed not to use them, if employers/homeowners are not at home during their work time, gardeners may continue to use restricted blowers.

Even after being advised of the law, gardeners have repeated, “It’s OK in this neighborhood,” meaning that no one complains.

If only one neighbor complains, they feel that person is over-reacting. If they receive only a few citations, the penalty they actually pay is affordable.  Though one or two citations are aggravating, it is worth it to many gardeners to continue using blowers in some areas. 

If they receive no citations, and have not been told by their employer that they will be fired if they use a blower, there is no incentive for them to stop.  

In Los Angeles, report use of gas, two-stroke blowers (those not operated by electricity or battery) within 500 feet of a residence. 

  Easiest:  In Los Angeles, just phone 213 473-4486 and pay for the call, if it is a toll call.  That is the direct line to the leaf blower hotline recording. 

DO NOT CALL “911”. 

HOTLINE: 800 996-2489 
Be prepared to give

    1.  The date, day, time, and address of the violation (spell the street and neighborhood name, such as “Van Nuys”), and zip code (!!).

    2.  The license number of the truck or vehicle used by a hired worker.

    3.  Optional: your name and/or the name of the gardening company.

    4. ZAP suggests you point out how many times you have reported the same violator, and request a citation be given.

You may have to report the same blower use several times. Just as other noise complaints, such as barking dogs, must be registered for the enforcement officers to be aware of the disturbance, so must blower use problems.

In order to to lessen the burden on the Police Department, the Leaf Blower Task Force had recommended that both the Department of Building and Safety and the Bureau of Street Maintenance have the authority to issue citations. While the Bureau of Street Maintenance may have the authority to issue citations, they primarily take reports, and pass them on to LAPD.

 

HOTLINE TIPS: 800 996-2489: To quickly get to where you can record your information, either:

1.  Go ahead and choose the number 1 and pause, choose another 1 and pause, then a final 1, to pass up 4 long messages and 11 choices. OR:

2.  Don’t press anything at all, and wait for the original operator to connect you.  However, you will still have two stops, since you will be sent to Street Use Inspection, who will then have to connect you to the recording hotline. You may be connected to one or two wrong numbers in the meantime.

Complaints or suggestions about the Complaint Hotline?  Start at the top:  Try the office of the Director of Street Services,  and/or  Chief of Street Use. Let us know the results.

For repeated violations


NOTE:  Some gardeners stop using blowers for a short time after receiving warning letters or citations.  Others change their time or day of service. 
DO NOT CALL “911”. 

You might call your local neighborhood police watch commander to request a citation be issued.  Be prepared to give the dates of past violations and reports you have made to the hotline.

Take into consideration that your local police officers may not know the leaf blower law as well as you do.  They may have more important matters to handle, and certainly have more interesting ones.  Most ban advocates understand and empathize with them.

However, this is how the L.A. ordinance is written, and officers  are sworn to uphold the law.  Individuals should not be deciding which laws to uphold and which to ignore.  Be prepared to politely give them information and understanding, but also to ask that your rights be upheld.

Look the number up in the front Government Pages of your phone book, under City, Los Angeles, Police, and the name of your area.  This may be followed by “(non-emergency}”.  One area’s phone book has this listing about 100 pages in, but is helpful in that the “Government Pages” title on the outside of the page is blue edged and so can be found quickly by flipping pages.

OR, try the non-emergency 1-877-275-5273 (1-877-ASK-LAPD) number.  They should be able to give you the number of your local precinct. 
The non-emergency 1-877-275-5273 (1-877-ASK-LAPD).

Coordinated by Deen & Black Public Relations.  One contact there is Michelle Pettit, 310 407-7900.

Do make the choices offered for English or Spanish, then for Nuisance calls.  The choices at the time of this writing do not include leaf-lower, and if it did, it might connect you to the above-noted report Hot Line instead of your local police station.

At the time of this writing, if you take the option of not selecting suggested connection numbers, you must listen to English, Spanish and loud TTY tones (encoded for the deaf and hard of hearing), all perhaps several times, while waiting for a human response. 
Reporting is the only way city officials can know what is going on.
In 1999, a unaware city spokesperson said, “The reason for so few violations is we are not finding many second or third offenses.” 

In the same article, gardeners and ban advocates indicated there were repeated violations, in part, because “Sometimes they [officers] come and look at us, but they don’t say anything. . .All the gardeners still use them [blowers]. . .we don’t [use them in] Beverly Hills, and that’s because the owners don’t like them.” (99.10.2)
 
“I still use [a leaf blower in Laguna].  I’ve never been caught. . . the law doesn’t change anything.” - Gardener
Report your experience with blowers to ZAP Manhattan Beach.
Make it short, please.  This web site is separate from ZAPLA, but is also run by volunteers taking time from family, work, or other volunteer work.  They try to respond to all comments, questions or suggestions. Read through the site before asking questions they may already have answered in their text or their correspondence.
If you find the law is not being complied with and/or enforced, and your reports to the city Hotline do not stop violations, contact your city representative.  In Los Angeles, that is the City Attorney’s office, and/or your City Councilmember.
The front of your phone book should have a Government section, listing your Councilmember.  If you aren’t sure who to call, ask the information operator at the local or downtown city hall number or go to the city website.

As noted elsewhere on this site, other local municipalities and state contact numbers and web sites can be found at here.

Take notes when you make your complaint.  Ask who will follow it up?  When should you expect a response or call back?  What else can you do?  How can you find out if your reports resulted in a citation?  How many citations has that violator received?
Check the report line to be sure your report was registered.

You may have to push through for this information.

You may not be able to find out if a citation was issued, but we suggest you try to follow it up, anyway.  Your interest shows enforcement agencies that a number of people really do care.

And, that gives more authority to those seeking new ordinances or better enforcement of existing laws.
Read the rest of our Action sections.
They contain links to groups or web sites that have helpful instructions on how to go about some of the suggestions listed here. 
Go to our LINKS reference page.
It contains a list of groups and organizations that deal with health and the environment.  Some of these offer detailed ACTION suggestions.  We have attempted to include only those groups, and urge you to consider only those suggestions that support legal, peaceful means.
SPEAK OUT
Stop and thank gardeners who are using rakes and brooms
Reinforce the fact that you appreciate their efforts, and show an interest in their work.  Ask if you can give their names (or the address at which they work) to neighbors who may be looking for a new gardener who does not use blowers.
Knowledge is Power.  Prepare to answer the concerns of others, especially concerns of employers.

In this web site, read, at minimum, the Overview and Debate sections.

Speak Out:  Speak to the person, or the employer of the person, using a blower.  Peer pressure, especially if based on real problems created by blowers, is the key to compliance.


In the words of a gardener who violates the Los Angeles ban, “The only place we don’t [use blowers] is Beverly Hills, and that’s because the owners don’t like them.” (99.10.2)

Best done at a time when you can hold a friendly conversation for several minutes.  Tell them how blower use on their property has inconvenienced or upset you, and why. 

For instance, did foul odors or dust and debris blow into your home through an open window or door?  Does your car or patio become soiled from their dust drift?  Did the noise make you unable to hear or to concentrate on a phone call?  Did it wake someone or force them to discontinue an outdoor chore?

Offer gardening advice and alternatives.  Give them a copy of the law and the letters on this site that confirm it is still in effect.  The Los Angeles law is linked here.

At a minimum, ask your next-door neighbors to instruct their gardeners not to use blowers of any sort between their buildings and yours, especially where they are only 5 feet from the common property line.

If the violation occurs again, send letters to neighbors who are also inconvenienced by blowers, asking them to also speak to the homeowner.

Ask your Neighborhood Watch program and Civic Association to include education about the law in their newsletters and meetings.

Give the employer and/or the blower operator information you have downloaded or copied from this or other blower web sites to show them why you are concerned.
Give them this web address, and point out that many libraries have free web access, with librarians or volunteers trained to help them use computers.  These can be found at 1-866-583-1234 (toll free) or through the Digital Divide website.

Give them a copy of the conclusions of the Air Resources Board’s report, which can be found on their website: Or, just give them the site address so they can download the whole Leafblower Report.

Speak to the blower user.

After the conversation, take notes of what occurred, in case you need to support the fact that you first made a personal complaint, and to record what the violator said to you. 

Please be as matter-of-fact and informative as possible.  It doesn’t help to be aggressive or angry towards the blower operator.

Many gardeners have no idea that anyone, other than those people involved in securing the ban, may also be disturbed.  Some have been instructed to use blowers by their job supervisor, and are ill at ease in the first place.  They, too, may hate the noise and the dust.

Explain the illegality of the blower use.  Explain how it disturbs or disrupts your life; especially how the machine’s noise and the dust it blows up make you feel angry.  (NOT how the gardener or worker, himself or herself, is making you angry).

Mention that, if you must report the violation, the homeowner can also be fined, and may become angry.

If necessary, take a witness and/or a cellular phone.  If you have a friendly response, offer to use pre-programmed numbers on your phone to call the hotline or City Attorney’s office to let the gardener confirm the ban. 

If he refuses to discontinue use, call the hotline and make a report as you walk away..

Another time, audiotape or video the blower use to replay to the employer.  Leave volume at same setting for recording and playback while you try to have a conversation with your neighbor about the blower use..  Compare these tapes with a list of decibel levels taken from your own property.

Speak up immediately when dust and debris shoots onto your property or into your house.
This is best done while some dust is still suspended over your property.  Point out to workers the results of their ambitious work habits.  If you remain as friendly as possible, showing irritation with the machine, not the worker, they may recognize the irony of their cleaning one property only to trash another.  You might appear resigned that the machines can cause this nuisance, but firm that it doesn’t have to occur.

Remind workers that manufacturers discourage the use of full-throttle on a regular basis.  It is not necessary, and seldom hurries a job along.

Speak up to your neighborhood homeowner group or condo management group.  Ask to speak at the yearly membership meeting.
Keep records of dates, times, experiences, what info you gave violator, what their response was.
 
These may help if you or the City Attorney goes to court.  Inform the report Hot Line or the Police that you have these records.

Immediately after speaking with a violator, take notes about the conversation.  Don’t wait a week or even a day, when your own interpretation of the memory may put “words in their mouths”. 

These conversations will give you a good idea of what “party line” is being passed around by your opponents, for, after the first time you hear them, many conversations will sound like a script.

Check the decibel level of blowers at the distance cited by local noise ordinances.  In Los Angeles, all gardening machines used on a regular basis must be 65dB or less at 50 feet.

View LA Ordinance here.

As long as you are reporting, report mowers, lawn edgers and trimmers that are over 65 db.
Small, hand-held, batter-operated Decibel meters can be found in electronic stores for about $40-$70.  Share yours with friends or circulate it within your group. Follow instructions regarding settings and use, in order to get accurate readings.

Show your results to neighbors or workers who think you are overly concerned.