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Should using unmufflered leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods be outlawed?

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Should using unmufflered leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods be outlawed?

Old 04-27-08, 05:07 AM
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Should using unmufflered leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods be outlawed?

I vote yes, because the noise pollution is a violation of property rights. The noise from just one of these things is an externality that can bother hundreds of people, all because one person doesn't want to use a nice quiet rake.

Also, check out the pollution numbers too.

Why aren't these things regulated, both for noise and toxic emissions?


http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08110/874680-35.stm

First Person: Blown away

For God's sake, pick up a rake

Saturday, April 19, 2008

By Roye Werner

April is the cruelest month, and it is because of the leaf-blowers.

Picture this:

It is the first balmy Saturday morning of springtime, and you are standing in your garden with a cup of coffee in your hand, bending down to examine the petals of recently awakened bulbs, trying to identify some tiny green shoots that are just visible, then turning your face up to the sun's rays to bathe once again in its delicious warmth, hearing the soft rustle of new leaves, the birds ...

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

Suddenly you've been transported to a dentist's chair with a screeching drill in your mouth. You're standing on the runway at Pittsburgh International while a plane lands over your head. You are stuck in traffic next to a large posse of Hell's Angels. You're sitting in an auditorium when the microphone screeches with feedback and nobody knows how to turn it off. This goes on for the next two hours.

Your exquisite morning is ruined while someone on your block is using the equivalent of a semiautomatic weapon to move a few pieces of dried matter. At approximately 70 decibels at 50 feet, even if you are inside with the storm windows shut, it penetrates. And it's not just your morning -- the noise can be heard for at least two blocks in every direction. So one lone leaf blower is probably blasting some 200 people out of their hard-won tranquility.

What leaf blowers emit is not just a racket. A Report to the California Legislature on the Potential Health and Environmental Impacts of Leaf Blowers, published in 2000 by the California Environmental Protection Agency, points out that the "hydrocarbon emissions from one half-hour of leaf blower operation equal about 7,700 miles of driving. ... For carbon monoxide, one half-hour of leaf blower usage would be equivalent to about 440 miles of automobile travel." Other things being stirred up into the air include "dust, fecal matter, pesticides, fungi, chemicals, fertilizers, spores and street dirt which consists of lead and organic and elemental carbon." Have asthma or allergies? Better stay inside when that telltale whine starts up.

But these machines are not just annoying to the near neighbors, they are doing their bit to make our whole planet hotter and more hostile to all of its inhabitants. Last year, Time's April 9 cover story put them smack in the middle of its list of global warming no-no's. According to a 2006 article in US News & World Report, "A single gas-powered leaf blower -- and more than 2.5 million of them will be sold this year alone -- can emit as much pollution in a year as 80 cars."

I recently observed a lawn service in operation for which two men, blowers a-blast, walked slowly around a customer's yard, moving dead leaves first into one pile, and then, unaccountably, into another pile on the opposite side of the lawn. They spent a good amount of time simply standing with their blowers pointed straight ahead, just meditating, perhaps, on their soon-to-be-impaired hearing. There were another two workmen with rakes, which were still needed to get the piles into bags. Question: Would not four men with rakes be able to accomplish this? Only a decade or so ago, didn't they?

Then there are the home- owners, armed to the teeth with anti-vegetable weaponry, who like to make sure that the streets running past their houses are impeccably clean of leaves -- at least for the 10 minutes before some other pesky plant matter comes drifting down. They spend at least a half-hour doing this. Often this means blowing the detritus from the space next to their house into the space next to their neighbor's (yes, the same neighbor that has to put up with the deafening noise and the poisonous emissions).

And for what? After a reasonable cleanup -- the kind that you can do with a rake, a broom and a few bags -- what is the purpose of blowing away every last leaf? Are people disturbed by the sight of a few harmless bits of flora? Is the aesthetic appeal of naked concrete or dirt so compelling? Maybe it's simply the joy of transforming oneself, for one magic hour, into Rambo, blasting the terrorist foliage to kingdom come.

This brings us to the symbolism of the leaf-blower -- a long tube emerging from a spherical handle, vibrating insistently, blowing powerful blasts at everything in its path and dominating every living thing around with its inescapable racket. Sublimation, anyone? (I'm sure it happens, but I personally have never seen one wielded by a woman.)

This election month in Pennsylvania, as we are considering the ways that hope and change might lift us out of our environmental, economic and political morass, let's each take one small step to clear the air: Holster the leaf blower; raise high your rake.
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Old 04-27-08, 06:07 AM
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There's not enough options in this poll.
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Old 04-27-08, 07:01 AM
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I voted yes. Get the fat little crotchspawn off his ass and out from in front of his computer. Put a rake in his hand and tell the pale little blowfish to get some sun.

Just stay out of my yard [/shakes fist]
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Old 04-27-08, 07:02 AM
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when i was in the army and they made us rake leaves i asked the same question. someone said that if you have too many leaves on a lawn it blocks the sunlight or something else so that the grass doesn't get the proper nutrition
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Old 04-27-08, 07:41 AM
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How about lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, etc. ?
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Old 04-27-08, 08:14 AM
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What if everyone in the neighborhood uses one?
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Old 04-27-08, 08:31 AM
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I don't see why you can't burn your trash in a residential neighborhood. It would be good for the environment. You wouldn't have to buy any more of that expensive lawn fertilizer. Require everyone to have a metal roof to lower the risk of fires.

Or you could have goats, sheep, or horses in the neighborhood. They would keep the lawns manicured so you wouldn't have to use mowers, blowers, trimmers, edgers, etc. that create all that noises.
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Old 04-27-08, 11:15 AM
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Step on a libertarian's toes and you'll turn him into a regulator.

Grundle, I suggest you go to your neighbors and enter into a mutually beneficial transaction whereby he agrees not to use his unmufflered leaf blower.
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Old 04-27-08, 11:34 AM
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That damn garbage truck that comes by 0600 Monday mornings is pretty loud too. AND they invariably drop at least one piece of (sometimes nonbiodegradable) trash per street.

I do think leaf blowers are a little silly; I've never really gotten them to work right without just blowing the leaves everywhere. I'll turn it on the shred/vacuum setting which works a lot better.

I can still see the libertarian perspective, because using a loudass blower *does* force itself on me, and I can't just "go inside" because it's still quite audible.
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Old 04-27-08, 12:08 PM
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This brings us to the symbolism of the leaf-blower -- a long tube emerging from a spherical handle, vibrating insistently, blowing powerful blasts at everything in its path and dominating every living thing around with its inescapable racket. Sublimation, anyone? (I'm sure it happens, but I personally have never seen one wielded by a woman.)
Please.

I have a leaf blower. It's the most efficient way to get the leaves out of the gravel. I use it a couple of times in the fall and for spring cleanup. And it's coal-powered. I use a 50' extension cord.

On the other hand, my back yard neighbor uses a shop vac to vacuum his yard. Every day, and twice on weekends. I've walked around the block while he's vacuuming, and you can hear it the whole time.
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Old 04-27-08, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
How about lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, etc. ?
Yeah, I think the string trimmers are a bit louder than blowers.

Blowers are great for clearing off driveways. Just use them between 9AM-7PM and just for a few minutes.
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Old 04-27-08, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Step on a libertarian's toes and you'll turn him into a regulator.

Grundle, I suggest you go to your neighbors and enter into a mutually beneficial transaction whereby he agrees not to use his unmufflered leaf blower.

I think he should turn in his card. The rare time he posts outside of the economic side of libertarianism, and he turns into a please-help-me government type.
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Old 04-27-08, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
How about lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, etc. ?

Not for now - those things don't seem to be as big a problem. Lawn mowers and string trimmers aren't as loud as leaf blowers. And I hardly ever see or hear anyone using a chain saw. But if they got to be big enougn problems, then yes.
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Old 04-27-08, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
What if everyone in the neighborhood uses one?

That's a good question. Then it should be legal in that neighborhood.
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Old 04-27-08, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Step on a libertarian's toes and you'll turn him into a regulator.

Grundle, I suggest you go to your neighbors and enter into a mutually beneficial transaction whereby he agrees not to use his unmufflered leaf blower.

Libertarians believe in property rights.

Noise pollution is a violation of property rights.
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Old 04-27-08, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Nick Danger
my back yard neighbor uses a shop vac to vacuum his yard. Every day, and twice on weekends. I've walked around the block while he's vacuuming, and you can hear it the whole time.

That's definiteley excessive noise pollution.
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Old 04-27-08, 02:23 PM
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do leaf blowers even work that well?
maybe on fully dried out leaves on a driveway but the people I've seen using them in yards seem to spend as much time as it takes me with a rake. especially if the leaves are still a bit wet
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Old 04-27-08, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
Libertarians believe in property rights.

Noise pollution is a violation of property rights.
Since when do you have a property right not to hear loud noises? Particularly when the loud noise is coming from something I am doing on my property (where, I would assume, you believe I have pretty strong property rights).

I should point out that I largely agree with you -- the government has a legitimate right (and responsibility) to regulate where there are externalities that the market is not internalizing (and also where transaction costs are prohibitive or information is not available at relatively low cost). So I would actually support a leaf-blower ban if a particular community wants one. I just question how a self-described libertarian can support such a ban.
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Old 04-27-08, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Vandelay_Inds
Libertarians believe in property rights.

Noise pollution is a violation of property rights.



Really, that says it all. grundle is right.
Libertarians believe in property rights.

Being banned from using a leaf blower on your own property is a violation of property rights.

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Old 04-27-08, 07:15 PM
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So property rights trump individual rights for the libertarians?
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Old 04-27-08, 07:31 PM
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Well, I'm not a Libertarian (not sure how this matters, anyway).

So, ban the motherfuckers and give the fatasses and lazy idiots the address for a local Home Depot sale on rakes.
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Old 04-27-08, 07:45 PM
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No. The idea goes past stupid and veers into pathetic and offensive.
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Old 04-27-08, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
I think he should turn in his card. The rare time he posts outside of the economic side of libertarianism, and he turns into a please-help-me government type.
Maybe he'd feel differently if Ted Kennedy wanted to prevent his neighbors from using a leaf blower.
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Old 04-27-08, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
No. The idea goes past stupid and veers into pathetic and offensive.
What's offensive (to mankind) is seeing a mid-life crisis male, wearing a Jerry Seinfeld T-shirt and plaid underpants/shorts, trying to move no more than a few dozen leaves off his property and into the street, while creating a shitload of noise and smelly gas odors as well as polluting.

Got that image in your head? Now mutliply it by several times, just in your own neighborhood.

Blowers are great for professionals and landscaping, but for the common homeowner, they don't need'em. Obviously, if you have a massive yard and a large home, blah blah blah, ok, but most do not.

I use my lawn mower to mulch my leaves and I barely have to rake at all. Just using a few brain cells, is all.
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Old 04-27-08, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
when i was in the army and they made us rake leaves i asked the same question. someone said that if you have too many leaves on a lawn it blocks the sunlight or something else so that the grass doesn't get the proper nutrition
Grass seemed to survive without rakes ever invented.

I don't rake my lawn.
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