Information on SB1651

SB1651, recently introduced into the California State Senate by Senator Richard Polanco, would prohibit California cities or counties from banning gasoline-powered leaf blowers, reversing overnight the victories that activists in nearly 20 California cities spent years of their lives achieving. CQS opposes SB1651 for several reasons, click below to read more about this bill:

SB1651 Text (in NPC Law Library)

Action Alert: STOP CALIFORNIA SB1651 !

Letter to Senator Polanco Opposing SB1651

Letter Opposing SB 1651

March 16, 1998

The Honorable Richard Polanco/David Peters
State Capitol, Room 2193
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: SB1651 (Leaf Blowers)

Dear Senator Polanco:

With all due respect, Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento must oppose SB1651. We do not believe it is needed in order to protect the livelihoods of gardeners. There is no evidence that gardeners have lost their jobs in the 20 California cities that have banned blowers. Depriving citizens of local control over whether to trade away their peace, quiet, and clean air for the efficiency of one industry and the unnecessary cleanliness of spotless lawns and parking lots is extremely unfair. Just as California exercises its right to stricter environmental regulations than those imposed by the federal government, cities and counties should likewise have that opportunity.

There seems to be little evidence that industry can meet a 65-decibel standard. Certification of the noise level by the manufacturer appears to be a recipe for trouble, as there is already a dispute between Echo (the largest manufacturer of blowers) and Consumers Union over the loudness of a recently introduced model. Making this limit effective would require the resources, the expertise, and the will not only to test new blowers, but also blowers that had experienced normal wear and tear that would predictably make them noisier. Also, we have heard many reports of user modification to blowers to make them more powerful that also make them noisier, so there would have to be enforcement in the field.

The bill would mandate statewide what Sacramento already has on its books--a 65-dB limit on blower noise--but that city staff have chosen not to enforce. In a recent report to our City Council's Law & Legislation Committee, Max Fernandez, Area Director of Neighborhoods, Planning and Development Services, stated "Enforcement of dBA limits is not practical in actual field practice." This attitude, not unique to Sacramento, makes noise limits meaningless, and is a major reason many cities have chosen bans.

But even an effective 65-decibel statewide limit on commercial blower noise would not be enough to prevent the degradation they now cause to our quality of life. The serious issue of air pollution is not addressed by this bill. In addition, the noise would still be troublesome for those millions of Californians at home during the day, whether working, sleeping, retired, ill, very young, or trying to enjoy their days off. A limit on noise at 50 feet does not do enough to protect pedestrians, cyclists, or those with small properties. A limit that excludes private use (which according to the ARB accounts for 90 percent of all blowers) would not protect people in their homes or yards. And lastly, the hours of operation which cannot be limited according to the bill would be a step backward for Sacramento, because at least now we have relative peace and quiet until 9 a.m. (and 10 on Sundays).

We would be delighted to discuss this further. I can be reached at the telephone and address shown above.


Julie Kelts


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