A proposal to ban gas-powered leaf blowers within the city limits of Sonoma took a step closer to passage Monday night as the Sonoma City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that bans blowers that are powered with an internal combustion engine, including those than run on fuel other than gas, according to the Press Democrat.
The council voted 3-2 in favor of the ban, with councilmembers Tom Rouse and David Cook opposed, the newspaper reported.
The ordinance is scheduled to be adopted at the council's Oct. 21 meeting. If it is, Sonoma would be in select company, joining 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.
Councilman Steve Barbose, one of the most proponents of a ban on the council, lobbied the council to go even further and ban electric- or battery-powered blowers. He also "got the council majority to go along with a ban on diesel generators that can be used to power electric leaf blowers, the argument being that the generators can be just as annoying as the sound of a gas-powered leaf blower," according to the Press Democrat.
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.
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.
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.