Strike a Blow
by Ted Rueter
Sacramento has been dubbed the "City of Trees" by the National Arbor Foundation. After living here
a few months, I think a more appropriate name would be the City of Leaf Blowers.
Leaf blowers are everywhere
in Sacramento! It seems like you can't walk past a yard, park, sidewalk, flowerbed, parking lot,
plaza, golf course, street, alley or tennis court without hearing one of these snout-nosed noisemakers.
After rainfalls, some people even use them to dry their lawns. The goal? To track down and destroy
Public Enemy #1: the leaf.
In Sacramento, I've seen gas
station employees use leaf blowers to chase down a single cigarette butt. In Sacramento, I've seen
leaf blowers employed to clean windshields in a used car lot.
The irritating, high-pitched
whine of these turbo gadgets sounds like dental drills gone berserk. Most gardeners blast their blowers
at 110 decibels all day long--far exceeding OSHA safety regulations.
They are the most detestable power
tools ever invented. They blare and screech and kick up dust. They accomplish nothing.
But leaf blowers do plenty of
damage. They spread animal droppings, herbicides, and pesticides into the air. They create as much
tailpipe emissions in one hour as a car does over 350 miles. They pump 1800 tons of carcinogenic compounds
in Los Angeles every year.
And leaf blowers are mighty
unneighborly. Their grating roar can be heard from half a mile away. They stir up a fine dust that
can coat porches and windowsills up to a block away. They blow leaves onto neighbors' lawns--only
to have them blow back 30 seconds later.
Journalist Art Carey suggests
that "all leaf blowers should come with a free sweatshirt and bumper sticker proclaiming: 'I have
the IQ of a cinderblock. I own a leaf blower.'"
And had anyone noticed that virtually
all leaf blower users are men? I have never seen a woman use one of these things. Maybe it's because leaf
blowers exhibit the worst stereotypical male characteristics: they're loud, they're rude, they're
aggresive and they're inconsiderate.
It's time for people to put away
their noise machines, get out their rakes and brooms, and stop disturbing their neighbors. It's time for
leaf blowers to be silenced--in Sacramento, and everywhere else.
Published in the Sacramento News and Review, December 27, 2001