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Resistance to Blower Use and the "NOBLOW Movement"


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Resistance to Blower Use

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"The NOBLOW movement is going to continue to grow...."

-- Industry VIP

“Even contractors not bound by legislative limitations need to consider possible ramifications,” [of legislative pressure to “tone down blower use”]. 

-- Industry representative. (01.6.3)

Public Opinion

Results of Survey99 show that 75% of participants would like to see more restrictions on blowers, and 62% would like to see blowers banned.  64% of participants changed their own routines sometime within a typical week due to the use of blowers.  56% of this group do so often or daily.  70% of all participants state that blowers in their neighborhood disturb them.
Ban proposals have been introduced from New York to California.  According to one article in 1997, there were about 300 bans across the United States, and 40 of those are in California. (98.11.1).  A 1998 article claimed there were nearly 90 California cities with restrictive ordinances, that 17 of those were blower bans, and that by 1995 there were 20 New York blower ordinances. (98.2.4)  A 1995 Scarsdale, N.Y. finding that their blower restriction was unconstitutional, was later overruled.  Scarsdale still has a summer ban on gas blowers for 4 months of the year.
The State of Texas proposed leaf blower bans in high-dust areas, as did the Arizona Governor’s Brown Cloud Summit Report in December, 2000.  The Orange County, CA, Grand Jury Report in 1999 recommended that cities, school districts (especially, because of the danger of air pollution to children), community college districts, and the County cease using gas powered blowers. A Village of Winnetka, Illinois, preamble to an ordinance calls them a public nuisance (97.10.1).
In the Los Angeles area, alone, there is a history of resistance to the use of blowers.  In 1978 Beverly Hills banned blowers.  Their law now cites “gas blowers”.  In 1985 Santa Monica first attempted legislation, and passed a total ban in 1991. (See Blower Laws)

zapla.org continues to received requests for information from people who wish to bring about legislation in their own communities.

Alternative Work Methods
Ban advocates say blower use can be eliminated or reduced by use of rake and broom, mulching mowers, frequency of mowing grass, electric (or battery operated) vacuums, and changes in landscape design and maintenance routine.  Routine changes could include edging only every other week, and collecting grass clippings in a mower bag, or using mowers that leave clippings on top of, or push them down into, the lawn.
“Restriction” or “Ban”?
In some cases where blowers are restricted to certain areas and/or certain times of day or times of year, the law may also become known as a “ban”.  Yet, many ordinances are actually “restrictions”.  In 1986 Los Angeles attempted a ban.  Reintroduced by Councilman Marvin Braude nearly ten years later, a “ban” was passed in 1997, and took effect in 1998.  However, L.A. does not ban electric blowers.  It does not even ban gas blowers beyond 500 feet distance from a residence.  See examples of blower laws and definitions for bans and restrictions in California.  It also took Palo Alto, CA about ten years to get a ban on gas blowers in residential areas.
Other Ordinances for the Public’s Welfare
Just as local governments make ordinances regarding barking dogs, dog droppings, dangerous fireworks, toys or electrical devices, fencing of swimming pools, seat belt use, smoke detectors, and smog certificates, for instance, many local governments also restrict or ban a variety of lawn and garden equipment.  In 1998, if not before, in its on-line brochure “Particulate Matter Air Pollution,” the California Air Resources Board recommended “Avoid using leaf blowers and other dust-producing equipment” to cut down PM. 
PLAYERS It can be hard to tell who is who.  One speaker, an activist rightfully representing the gardener’s association he established and worked for, did not correct the misconception at an Air Resources Board meeting, that he was a gardener who had taken time off work to speak, and who would lose income for doing so. 
The return address of one group opposed to blower bans, “Californians for Quality Neighborhoods,” was that of a powerful public relations firm in the state capital that organizes industry-supported committees posing as grass-roots organizations. (98.11.1)
BAN ADVOCATES AND CONCERNED OTHERS Individual homeowners and other residents, and grass-roots groups formed by and of those individuals, all of whom live and/or work in the areas affected by blower legislation.  These volunteers have no economic interest in their position, and no funding to help in their efforts to control the pollution, including noise, caused by blowers and/or two-stroke machines: 
The California Air ResourcesBoard
800 363-7664 (CA)
800 242-4450
(Other States)
The California Air Resources Board has primary jurisdiction over lawn and garden utilities (non-road engines) for the state.  It is a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, with the mission of “promoting and protecting public health, welfare and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering the effects on the economy of the state.”

The Major Goals of the Board are listed on our Reference Links page. The ARB website includes lists of “50 Things You Can Do” to reduce air pollution, Fact Sheets, Brochures and Presentations”
The South Coast Air Quality Management District

The South Coast Air Quality Management District was concerned enough about blower pollution that it proposed in its 1991 Air Quality Management Plan for the South Coast Air Basin that “The District will prohibit the use and sale of leaf blowers within the Basin beginning in 1994” (Source).  This plan was adopted by the board, but later superceded.

It is the air pollution control agency for Los Angeles County, Orange County and parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.  Combined, this is the second most populous urban area in the United States. 

See our Reference Links page for more AQMD information.


See Reference Links page for Leaf Blower Sites, Air Pollution Organizations, Noise Organizations, and run through the Miscellaneous sites and Resources section.

Californians for Clean Air Progress
We assume the Californians For clean Air Progress can be counted as “Concerned Others”, from its 1997 full page advertising supplement entitled “Fighting Smog:  The Home Front”.  This ad involved consumer products, including gasoline-powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers and other utility tools that ". . . emit a significant amount of VOCs – more than all the aircraft in the South Coast.” (97.12.1).  
Many who speak in opposition to blower bans do not live in the communities that are affected.  Several blower supporters do not live or work in those communities.  They include gardener association representatives (who may be trying to make a job or a public name for themselves) and families of gardeners (who have both emotional and economic interests in the subject).

Manufacturers, distributors, retailers, the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturing Association (PPEMA), the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), some politicians, and Landscape Contractors’ and Gardener’s Associations and their members, U.S. and foreign businesses, and questionable special interest groups.  All of these have an economic interest in this subject. (Note: We believe PPEMA no longer exists as such.)

Due to the spreading “NoBlow Movement”, manufacturers have increased efforts to improve product; and to educate end-users regarding maintenance that will keep down pollution, and about courteous use, which they hope will keep down complaints.

Landscape Contractors are concerned about residential gardening contracts, and large contracts for cleaning parking lots and structures, and the grounds-keeping for business buildings and shopping malls. 

The general term “gardener” may include large or small business owners, an individual independent contractor who works alone, the regular employee of a landscape or gardening company or business, or even inexperienced day-workers picked up for immediate, temporary, part-time jobs.