After more than a year since the idea of banning leaf blowers was first brought before the Burlingame City Council, Councilmembers passed an ordinance restricting days and times of legal leaf blower use in the City Monday night.
The leaf blower sub committee composed of Vice Mayor Ann Keighran, Councilmember Terry Nagel, members of the Citizens Environmental Council (CEC) and members of the Bay Area Gardeners Association worked together on crafting the ordinance.
CEC members initially called for the ban of gas-powered leaf blowers or both gas-powered and electric leaf blowers to decrease air pollution and noise. However, this proposed ban was met with significant pushback from gardeners who felt the ban was a direct attack on them and their businesses, and residents who found the restrictions unfavorable.
The council has held public meetings and hearings since the initial proposal, and the final ordinance is a compromise taking into consideration public feedback and worked out by members on both sides of the issue.
“This issue over the two years that I’ve been on council has probably caused more people to come up to me to say “yay,” or “really don’t like it,’” said Councilmember Michael Brownrigg. “This was going to be a compromise, so I just want to say on behalf of everybody, we do realize this makes inconveniences.”
The new ordinance puts the following regulations regarding leaf blowers in place:
- Once a week use in residential areas (either Tuesday, Thursday or Friday as assigned by City) by commercial gardeners
- Leaf blower use 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays by residents
- Twice a week use for multi-family buildings on leaf blowing days
- Twice a week use for schools and parks on leaf blowing days
- Exemption for properties greater than five acres (also including Ray Park). Leaf blowers may be operated Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Set penalty of $50 for violation
- Authority of City Manager to waive enforcement during emergencies necessitating clean up (ex. large storm, earthquake)
- Commercial use blowers must be City-certified as not surpassing 65 decibels at a cost of $25 for up to five machines, or $5 for those with a manufacturer decibel certificate.
- If a holiday falls on a designated leaf-blowing day, that area would be allowed leaf blowing the following leaf-blower-approved day.
The ordinance takes effect July 1, 2012. Information will be sent in water bills and gardening businesses licensed to work in Burlingame will be notified.
Previous Burlingame Municipal Code allowed leaf blowers operated at a noise level of 65 decibels or less from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays and holidays, with extended hours for city park and facility areas.