Thanks to the group who sent their opinion on July 26; it was titled “Let's get rid of gas leaf blowers.” Well, I couldn't agree more and specifically within populated areas of the city.
I live in a suburb of north Napa, and every morning we wake, we sit through breakfast to the annoying roar of leaf blowers in the neighborhood. Just the other morning, we were trying to have our breakfast outside on the patio when a commercial leaf blower started up two houses away.
I now have a handy decibel meter on my smartphone and I took a reading - it peaked at 85 dB. That's pretty loud for two houses away. We gave up and took our breakfast back inside and closed the door.
Most of the commercial lawn maintenance people use very loud two-stroke gas/oil leaf blowers that are quite powerful but also very polluting. My concern is more with the noise. I too have a lawn service crew that uses one of these leaf blowers. As I write this letter, I can hear a leaf blower a block or two away.
I don't mind if the commercial lawn maintenance people want to use these very powerful blowers on large properties out of town; but within city limits where homes are very close, we need to reduce the noise pollution.
It seems the blower of choice for the commercial providers has been the backpack style, which is very powerful and costly. They also cost companies in gas, oil and continual maintenance. There are alternatives which are considerably quieter (64 dB at peak), powerful, practically maintenance free and electric.
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There is no need for gas/oil and because the electric motor has far fewer parts, there is less need for maintenance. High-power electric/battery leaf blowers are also available in the popular backpack style.
It is not only the leaf blowers that make noise, gas- powered weed-whacker's and lawnmowers are also very noisy. A neighbor recently demonstrated his new battery-powered lawnmower; it blazed through thick grass, it was lighter and easier to operate than a comparable gas engine mower. it was impressively quiet.
Noise pollution in populated areas is constantly increasing as the world around us becomes more mechanized. This issue will only worsen until we do something about it, so here is my suggestion to the city councils of cities in the Napa Valley.
Pass a noise abatement policy that requires landscape and maintenance providers to shift over to electric tools within five years for services within the city. Sometimes, heavy duty tools are needed to accomplish a task -- for example, a fallen tree in the street -- and they will be noisy; we get that. But for densely populated areas where daily services are provided, quiet needs to be the new rule.