Leaf blowers, those droning tools of the gardener's trade, are being painted as the latest scourge of the once-serene suburban landscape by Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude.
Last week, Braude introduced a motion before the City Council that would ban the sale and use of the gas-powered blowers, which are designed to allow gardeners to quickly collect debris from customers' yards.
The legislative body sent the proposal for review to its environmental quality committee, but no hearing date has been scheduled.
"The unregulated use of leaf blowers continues to generate a steady stream of calls from citizens who can't carry on normal conversations or who can't concentrate on work they need to do at home," said Braude, who chairs the committee. "People have been suffering for years, and it's time they had some relief."
The proposal is the third effort in nine years to get the City Council to adopt such a ban. In 1986, the City Council rejected, on a 6-6 vote, a proposed ban on the leaf blowers. Four years later, on an identical vote, it turned down Braude's plan to prohibit the noisiest blowers from being used in the city.
Braude spokesman Glenn Barr said the councilman is bringing the matter up again because Braude thinks that the problem has grown worse, with more people being disturbed as more people work at home.
In addition, Braude said he hopes to win the necessary eight votes now that new members have been elected to the City Council, Barr said.
Homeowners hailed Braude's action, but gardeners contended that a ban on leaf blowers would result in lower-quality work and would hurt their businesses.
"The problem is the noise pollution," said Sherman Oaks homeowner Gary Nudell. "It is absolutely terrible."
Nudell said the blowers also blow around insecticides, dirt and molds in addition to garden clippings.
"It's a tool and if you take it away, the service is not going to be as good," said Roy Imazu, a legislative analyst for the Southern California Gardeners Federation, based in Little Tokyo.
Imazu said the federation has begun an educational campaign to encourage gardeners to operate their blowers at less than full throttle and to rake up clippings blown onto the street.