Blown away

Auntie Ruth is pissed!

Auntie Ruth is pissed!

Photo By the wizard of oz

What is it with all the leaf blowers in this town? Auntie was riding her bicycle this morning, rounding up all the stray puppies and kittens in the neighborhood like usual, when she spotted one of the masked menaces some 50 feet ahead of her on the side of the road; the gasoline-powered blower strapped on his back roaring at least 100 times higher the legal limit; kicking up a miniature dust storm of leaves, twigs and other debris. Oblivious to her presence, the leaf blower pivoted and directed the torrent of lawn waste, molds, pollens, lead, arsenic, pesticide residue and animal feces straight into Auntie’s face. Wheezing and gagging, she barely made it home under her own power.

Auntie remembers the bad old days. Before the Sacramento City Council passed noise and time restrictions in residential neighborhoods in 1991, it wasn’t unusual to be jolted from your sleep at the crack of dawn by a screaming two-stroke engine. Since then, operation of leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods has been restricted to 9 a.m-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. In addition, all leaf blowers purchased after 1995 must meet the 65 decibels sound limit, which is roughly the noise level of your average vacuum cleaner. If there’s a lawn service violating the rules, citizens can call Sacramento City Services, 311, and report the potential code violation.

Of course, rules were meant to be broken. Without pointing fingers, except at every gas-powered leaf blower in Sacramento, either we’ve all got dangerously loud vacuum cleaners or the noise regulations are completely meaningless. Auntie is being generous when she says most leaf blowers are operating at no less than 75 decibels, which is 10 times the legal limit. If that’s not enough to make your ears bleed, consider that the city code doesn’t even address the air pollution caused by these archaic contraptions. It’s high time for Sacramento to join Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Claremont and ban gas-powered leaf blowers outright.