Davis is a wonderful community with a vibrant downtown scene and diverse residents. As fall approaches, our green town is covered by dry leaves of all colors and sorts.
Most gardeners have resorted to leaf blowers to deal with the issue in a quick and dirty way. And out of all leaf blowers on the market, many have picked gas leaf blowers – the worst kind.
Leaf blowers, independent of the type, move leaves by blowing air. However, lighter than leaves and more susceptible to upward winds are dust and other particulate matter harmful to humans and animals. Thus, leaf blowers, aside from merely relocating leaves, increase the particulate matter (or particle pollution) in the air, making breathing harder and causing people’s allergies to act up. Kids are particularly affected by this.
Leaves can be relocated almost as quickly with a rake, lifting less dust into the air. And let’s not forget that rakes are much quieter than leaf blowers! Gas leaf blowers in particular are not only louder, but even more polluting.
Our businesses downtown that have wonderful outdoor patios deal constantly with extra cleanup of dust and disturbed customers due to leaf blowers. Our students cannot study in peace in their homes because a gardener going from building to building can take hours with a leaf blower, emitting up to 100 decibels of noise when close to windows. Cars and bikes get covered by dust, which is especially frustrating if they have been recently washed. Lower height plants like flowers get covered by dust much faster and dry out.
So let’s do our town a favor and push gardeners and property owners to switch to the good old rake.
As a matter of fact, many cities of similar size and characteristics have done this through reasonable regulations. Cities like Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Los Altos have started programs that include collecting leaves for composting and small pay raises for gardeners for the extra time using a rake (a few bucks for the client, an extra dinner out with his family for the gardener).
So let’s make Davis an even nicer place where we aren’t awakened by leaf blowers, or our morning coffee isn’t ruined by a gust of dust caused by a leaf blower.
With enough support and “likes” on our Facebook page (search for “Davisites LNPP”), we can push city council to enact a city regulation limiting or, even better, banning leaf blowers from Davis.
AMIR MESGUICH is a senior political science and international relations major and student assistant at the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center.