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Stereotyping Ban Advocates

Noise Pollution

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Noise and Stereotyping






Claimed ban advocates were racially motivated and bigoted.
To the knowledge of ZAP, all references to racial group came from blower supporters.  Only the representatives and members of one ethnic group chose to bring up this argument in nearly every California opposition to bans.  According to one reporter, the state senator who initiated state proposals in opposition to bans has “a reputation among some of his peers for ruthless race-baiting.” (98.11.1)
Based on these false claims, blower supporter groups threatened and/or pressured politicians and press who were members of their ethnic group.  One L.A. City Councilmember apologized in council chamber for changing a previous “yes” vote on the ban to “no,” saying several times that the special interest press was “all over” him. 
See Race, Class, and Leaf Blowers on the Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento site.
When ban advocates suggest gardeners are being used by manufacturers and
vendors. . .

"We feel those comments are racist, because it implies gardeners aren’t intelligent enough to organize themselves.”  (98.11.1)
Spoken by a non-gardener activist serving as president of the Gardener’s Association which was formed to oppose the L.A. blower ban.
Suggested ban might carry racial overtones because council wants to ban a tool used predominantly by one group of people in Los Angeles. (98.3.5) and same person, “We’ve been thinking if the gardeners were somebody else – another racial group – this wouldn’t be happening.” A Northern California gardener’s association representative. (98.11.1)  The same argument was used in the press and political offices in Southern California, and during the State efforts to rescind all local blower bans.

“Gardener” is not a race.  There are bans and/or regulations across the nation, where many different nationalities take on these duties.  With this “race” argument, one particular newly-formed association ignored the long history of another L.A. association and its members. 

Such accusations, used only to distract politicians from the real issues of nuisance and pollution, disparage honest exposure of bigotry in other situations.

Ban advocates are “mostly affluent”. (98.1.7)
“The people fighting leaf blowers, 99 percent of them are rich people.” (activist, represented gardener’s association formed to oppose ban)
This claim was never checked to see who makes up ZAP membership or other grass roots community groups.  As far as we know, letters to the editors by individuals who supported the ban were never followed up to determine the income of their writers.  The press quoted or just took the word of gardeners and other blower supporters. Terms such as "elite" "wealthy" "rich" were baselessly attached to references to ban advocates.
43% of Survey99 participants had annual household incomes of under $51,000, and they lived in 38 different zip codes.  These figures may represent two-income families.  Yet, 62% would like to see blowers banned, and 75% would like to see more restrictions.
“Affluent homeowners” do not want to be disturbed by “good, honest” gardeners trying to earn a living (L.A. City Council Member) (90.11.1)
If some ban advocates have money, does that mean they cannot also be good or honest?
“. .  this is an Issue of have and have not, not about blowers.” Gardener’s association representative. (98.1.3)
“The tranquility of our homes and our environment is really a health issue” L.A. City Council member (97.8.4)
“People against us, complain from their million $$ homes in [West Los Angeles] drinking cappuccinos” Gardeners Association representative.
These claims are a stereotype based on the assumption that all people bothered by blowers live in “wealthy” neighborhoods, that all people who live in wealthy neighborhoods are actually wealthy; and that all people of wealth do not care about the welfare of others.
For another opinion, go to “Race, Class, and Leaf Blowers” (Source CQS, page 2 of 7)
Claimed ban advocates were “old, retired and/or rich people who want to sleep late while gardeners have to work hard all day to support their families”.
Survey99 participant breakdown and results discredit this claim.  Participants represented 38 different zip codes.  56% of participants were 18 to 45 years of age.  75% would like to see more restrictions on blowers.  62% would like to see blowers banned.
More people are working at home.  Many others are night workers, for whom it may not be a matter of “sleeping late”, but of sleeping, at all.  The health of those already ill, the young and the elderly are especially impacted by interrupted sleep.
Ban advocates should be able to put up with a blower for a few minutes once a week. 
“. . .a minor inconvenience for affluent homeowners.” (98.1.11)
Several gardeners each day, in any given week, may use blowers, mowers, edgers and trimmers whose noise, emissions and fugitive dust impact from eight to fourteen nearby properties in a typical Los Angeles neighborhood.  That could be up to three or more hours of noise in a given day, repeated several days a week.
“.. .accused supporters of the leaf blower ban of moving callously and carelessly to adopt an ordinance. . .” (98.1.11)
It took fourteen years to get the Los Angeles ban.  All blower supporters have known since the inception of blowers that they caused problems. 
As noted elsewhere, compromises were made by ban advocates.  Electric blowers are not banned, the ban is only within 500 feet of a residence, enforcement was postponed to give gardeners time to change equipment and/or methods.
Ban advocates took additional time to attend task force meetings, whereas one gardener’s association and their party walked out.  The remaining Task Force members (including ban advocates) agreed to have warning letters sent before fines would be issued, and proposed the City Council reduce the original fine from $1,000 to $100 plus court costs of $170; and reduce the original misdemeanor charge to an infraction (removing possible jail time).
Blower supporters, insisting on a “compromise,” instead of a ban, suggested the same decibel limits that had already been in place for years as noise or nuisance regulations.  Limits which most gardeners violated on a regular basis.
Noise ordinances cover blowers
Yes, but the ordinances are violated and difficult to enforce.
Claimed “other sources of noise . . ..lawn mowers. . . are louder than modern leaf blowers”
(CA State Senate Business and Professions Committee SB1651 Bill Analysis of April 13, 1998, Support and Opposition.)
Lawn mowers have a four-stroke engine, which lacks the irritating and disruptive “whine” of the banned two-stroke gas blowers.  In addition, four-stroke, push and electric mowers do not emit unspent fuel and oil or stir up the same fugitive dust as do blowers.
“Any gas powered engine makes noise: lawn mowers, blowers, edgers, Rototillers, tractors, trenchers, etc.  Why pick on blowers?” (98.8.6)
Because the two-stroke engine, its whine, its spewing out of unspent oil and gas, its noise, also blows fugitive dust far and wide.  Because blowers are used right under open windows and beside open doors of residences. 
And because ban advocates have just had enough!
If workers and/or the “lawn and garden industry” feels some machines have been left out, there are other people and groups who are willing to “pick on” them.
”We’ll call it that [leaf blower] although it is mainly used for cleaning concrete or asphalt surfaces without water!”  Landscaper (98.8.6)
As pointed out by the author, blowers are used a great deal on hardscape, much of which surrounds and is close to a residence.  This makes the blowers, and their noise, dust drift and emissions even more intrusive. 
Blowers are only as loud as normal conversation
IF you are 50 feet away from the blower, and IF it is one of the newer models that tested 65dB by ANSI standards, and IF the blower still runs at that decibel level. . .:
Even the sound of normal conversation (50-65 db), when unwanted and unexpected, can be a disrupting noise.  65 dB is the level of laughter, or “a generally noisy environment” where “sporadic conversation is acceptable. . . about half the people will experience difficulty sleeping.”
If the blower is closer than 50 feet, it is more likely to sound like a vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, dishwasher, garbage disposal, subway or motorcycle, depending on its distance. NIDC and “Human Factors Design Handbook”

Also see the Noise Decibel Table