A proposal to ban gas-powered leaf blowers within the city limits of Sonoma is set to head to the City Council on Oct. 7, a move that would put the city in select company among California cities to impost a ban on the use of the noisy devices.
At its Sept. 4 meeting, the City Council voted 4 to 1 to have Planning Director David Goodison draft an ordinance putting the kibosh on using gas-powered leaf blowers.
The proposed ban generated from a group of vocal residents, including Darryl Ponicsan, who posted a petition for a ban on MoveOn.org that garnered 55 signatures. In a letter to the City Council that included the petition, Ponicsan wrote, "I personally cannot sit in my own back yard and have a cup of coffee without the probability of being driven inside by the noise of leaf blowers."
The proposal was put on the council's Sept. 4 agenda by Councilman Steve Barbose and David Cook, the former of whom was on the council in April 2011 when new limits on the use of leaf blowers were put in place, including banning their use on Sundays and city-observed holidays.
“The time has come to prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in the city of Sonoma,” Barbose said at the Sept. 4 meeting.
Goodison wrote that the regulations put in place in 2011 were a compromise to find a balance with the fact that the city used gas-powered leaf blowers and that "the City Council did not wish to impose rules on private property owners and businesses that it would not impose on its own operations."
Public Works Director Dan Takasugi estimated that it would cost the city $10,000 to switch to battery-powered leaf-blowers, and the city would likely incur a cost hike for maintenance at eight of its 16 parks, for which maintenance is contracted out.
Sonoma would join the Marin cities of Belvedere and Mill Valley among North Bay towns to ban gas-powered leaf blowers. Other California cities restrict the hours of operation, or allow only electric or battery-powered blowers. Goodison said that while the draft ordinance will focus only on gas-powered leaf blowers, the council directed him to include options for restricting the use of electric and battery-powered blowers, such as limiting the hours they can be used.
The city's current rules restrict the use of leaf blowers in residential areas to between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and in city parks on the same days between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
What do you think? Should the city ban gas-powered leaf blowers? What about electric or battery-powered leaf blowers? Tell us in the Comments.