Beginning Oct 28, enforcement of Santa Monica’s recently updated motorized leaf blower restrictions will be taken over by the City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE). Originally banned in the early 1990s, motorized leaf blower restrictions were difficult and costly to enforce due to the requirement that the violation be directly observed by a sworn police officer.
To improve enforcement, Santa Monica’s City Council adopted changes to the ordinance to allow OSE staff to issue administrative citations to leaf blower operators, landscaping companies, property owners and/or property managers. OSE’s bi-lingual inspectors will initially focus on public education about the ordinance and about alternatives to using motorized leaf blowers for removing debris from landscapes quickly and economically.
“Beyond the noise and the annoyance, leaf blowers pose multiple health risks to the community and the operator,” said Dean Kubani, director of the City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. “These devices are so inefficient they emit more pollution than a car and blow a mix of fine particles into the air we breathe. Our education-driven enforcement plan should make Santa Monica a little healthier as well as quieter.”
In what belies commonly held perceptions on air pollution, an individual gas powered leaf blower, those often used by professional gardeners, emit 500 times the level of hydrocarbons than a modern automobile (CA Air Resources Board). The added air pollution is significant and affects tens of thousands of healthy and vulnerable Angelinos, especially troubling asthmatics and allergy sufferers. With a muzzle velocity up to 150 miles per hour, blowers further impact our air quality by blowing fine particles of fertilizers, pesticides, and other contaminants up from the ground into the air.
Noise is also a serious issue, a gas-powered blower creates up to 70 decibels of nerve-racking noise at 50 feet. Reducing noise pollution continues to be a high priority for homeowners and renters alike, especially those with small children, or individuals with home offices. Noise from blowers also scares our local wildlife, especially birds.
The City recommend the use of push brooms, rakes, and manual leaf sweeping machines as alternatives to the motorized leaf blowers. Leaf vacuums may be an option for larger properties. Hosing surfaces is prohibited.
No person shall operate any motorized leaf blower within the city (SMMC 4.08.270). A leaf blower is defined as any motorized tool (gas, electric, battery powered) used to propel fallen leaves, grass clippings and debris for removal. Infractions may be punishable by substantial fines to property owners, property management companies, landscape companies and/or individual operators.
Reporting Leaf Blower Use
To report violations please provide an address, date and time of the violation. Staff will promptly follow-up with reported violations in addition to being out in the community educating gardeners and property owners. To report, visit GO System: www.smgov.net/go. Email: email@example.com. Telephone: (310) 458-4952. Website: www.sustainablesm.org/leafblower