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Leaf Blowers: A Whirlwind of Controversy

December 23, 1985|CAROL McGRAW | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles has not adopted any leaf blower regulations because there have been few complaints, Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky said.

That doesn't mean that the councilman is a defender of the machines.

'All the Pollution'

"They aren't a pleasant device. My gardener uses one. I can't count the number of times I've been awakened by them early in the morning. And not only that, here comes all the pollution wafting through the bedroom window."

The Air Quality Management District considered banning leaf blowers in 1982 as part of an air cleanup plan for the Los Angeles Basin. Because of strong opposition from the gardeners' federation and because the gas-driven machines are such a small source of pollution, however, the idea was tabled, agency spokesman Jim Birakos said.

Some critics have suggested that electric leaf blowers would solve the problem for everyone. Gardeners, however, say that the electrical cords are unwieldy, making for slower work, and that most homes do not have outside electrical outlets.

In attempts to save the blowers from extinction, the gardener's federation has come up with a set of guidelines that it says makes more sense than banning the machines entirely. Several cities have adopted the suggestions.

Some of the guidelines require operators to use mist attachments on the machines to reduce dust, operate the machines on quieter slow speeds and prohibit use before 7 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends.

Educational Campaign

Ida of the gardeners' association acknowledged, however, that getting all gardeners to abide by such rules is not easy.

The federation has begun an educational campaign, mailing instructional pamphlets to all licensed gardeners and sending teams out into neighborhoods to talk to workers about the problem.

"Some guys think if it's loud it works better. And some don't keep their machines in good repair, causing the smoke," Ida said.

"It's like guns and automobiles. The machines aren't the problem, it's the people using the machines," he said.

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