Noisy Leafblowers: A Classic “Does The End Justify The Means” Quandary

Wednesday afternoon may mark the second-half of the workweek and the promise of a great weekend.

But in my neighborhood- and perhaps in yours- Wednesday afternoon marks the weekly, two-hour invasion of the leaf-blowers and the hard-working men who operate them.

I suspect that for many of you who are at your workplace during the day, this invasion is invisible and inaudible to you. And then you’ll come home tonight to clean sidewalks.

But just so happens that I work out of my home- a condo among many other condos here on the cliffside just across the street from Washington Park.

And because I get up early to beat the East Coast bloggers to stories on my beats (and hopefully get some Techmeme love) the deal is that by the time Wednesday p.m. rolls around, I’m ready for a nap.

Naptime is just right about the same time the leaf-blowers arrive. And there they are, right outside my window.

I suppose I should look at the bigger picture and be grateful that these men and their noisy devices make our condo complex that much more beautiful. But damn, all, those leafblowers make the most irritating sound. And strictly for me, I need my sleep.

My question to you readers: “where on the end justify the means” scale do you place the leafblowers that serve your block?

8 Comments so far

  1. Nancy (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:39 am

    Just thinking about “leaf blowers” gets my blood boiling. I don’t know how these things ever got so popular-especially here in the northwest where everyone cares about the enviroment. Not only are they a noise polluant..but, my biggest complaint is that all they do is blow the dirt and leaves to another location. Now if they actually “vacuumned” it up…that might be a different matter…I have witnessed big dust storms and these guys think they are doing such a great job…but where are they when the dust settles?

  2. mb (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:56 am

    Mr Leafblower of my hood usually fires up about the time we sit down for dinner on the patio Saturday afternoons. Sometimes he waits until the company arrives . . . .

  3. Miz J (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 9:56 am

    They do have these things called “rakes” and “brooms”, but people are just too lazy for those.

    And you kids get off my lawn!! ;)

  4. gawd (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 10:15 am

    You think you got it bad? My neighbor comes home and gets out his power mower to mow his 100 sq ft lawn. Then out comes the weed whacker to make everything nice and tidy. But wait, it’s not tidy enough because out comes the leaf blower. All the while, the air conditioner/heat pump thing is blasting away even though its not quite 70 degrees outside. On those really special occasions, I guess when the only sports on the tv is basketweaving, he whips out the power sprayer and neatens up the cement driveway and walkway. Oh, let’s not forget the chainsaw he uses to tame the laurel hedge. I call him “Mr Power Tool” because if someone invented it, he’s bought it.

  5. Kevin (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

    Other cities and municipalities have compromised by passing laws mandating lower-noise leaf blowers:

    They really do make a difference.

    Though I enjoyed a recent altercation between the fellow who was prone to leaf-blowing the parking lot next to my building at 7:30 am. One morning he was told to knock it off by a neighbor, a warning he ignored…and came to regret when the neighbor, who looked like a bouncer at a biker bar, came down to the parking lot in his boxer shorts to gently remind the young yardsman of the 9 am ordinance.

  6. Todd (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 10:25 pm

    Gasoline-powered leaf blowers should be banned. They are infuriatingly noisy, pollute the air, are inefficient, and there is no evidence that gardeners would need to raise their rates without them. And, did gardeners lower their rates in the 80’s and 90’s when they started using them? The gas-powered machines are ineffective. They unnecessarily spread pollens, dust, and animal feces onto neighbors’ properties (and automobiles). They can be extremely unhealthy to the user. Cal OSHA allows only 20 minutes of aggregate daily exposure to a noise level over 100 decibels, while most gardeners run their blowers at 109, for most of the day. Most landscapers use leaf blowers far in excess of the level Cal OSHA recommends as safe to the operator. Gas-powered leaf blowers at homes and at schools assault students who need to study in peace and quiet during the daytime hours, whether at home or at school. Students at the University of South Carolina have complained about campus use of gas-powered leaf blowers. And again: there’s no evidence that landscapers would have to increase their rates if they didn’t use them. Pity the individuals who feel that they have no recourse than to use them. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers should be banned outright.

    Recently, I had a visit with a gardener in a commercial office complex near the building I work at. Surprise! He was using a rake and a very large, heavy-duty trash bag. I thanked him for his kind service. I told him I appreciated his work. And he was doing good work indeed. His boss deserves a raise and a promotion.

  7. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on May 24th, 2007 @ 7:44 am

    If you’re going to use the noise argument, you might as well ban lawn mowers too. I hear them far more often than leaf blowers. Thanks for the sensationalism Todd. Gas-powered leaf blowers do not “assault” people. Geez.

    And for those of you who are complaining about the time of day that your condo management, neighbor, etc. are doing the blowing… have you actually talked to them about it?

  8. Todd (unregistered) on June 1st, 2007 @ 2:14 am

    Aaron, thank you so much for your useless tripe. Re-read my post, do the research, educate yourself on the decibel emission comparisons between lawnmowers and standard gas-powered blowers, then post back.

    Get informed.

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