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
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, Its
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, Its
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
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
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
2. Dont 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 areas
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
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 dont say anything.
. .All the gardeners still use them [blowers]. . .we dont
[use them in] Beverly Hills, and thats because the owners
dont like them. (99.10.2)
I still use [a leaf blower in Laguna]. Ive
never been caught. . . the law doesnt change anything.
|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 Attorneys office, and/or your City
|The front of your phone book should
have a Government section, listing your Councilmember. If
you arent sure who to call, ask the information operator at
the local or downtown city hall number or go to the city
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
|Check the report line to be sure your
report was registered.
|You may have to push through for this
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.
|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
|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 dont [use blowers] is Beverly Hills, and thats
because the owners dont 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,
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
If the violation occurs again, send letters to neighbors who are
also inconvenienced by blowers, asking them to also speak to the
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 Boards report, which can be found on
their website: Or, just give them the site address so they can
download the whole Leafblower
|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 doesnt 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 machines
noise and the dust it blows up make you feel angry. (NOT
how the gardener or worker, himself or herself, is making you
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 Attorneys 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 doesnt
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. Dont
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
|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.
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
Show your results to neighbors or workers who think you are overly