It’s Time to Ban Leaf Blowers in Santa Cruz

“Why did we wait so long to do something as simple as protecting the health of our families and our community?”

This is what people have wondered in cities across the country that decided to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in their neighborhoods.

cartoonNo doubt you’ve been talking on the phone, working, or just reading at home when the whining, revving noise of a leaf blower disturbed the peace. You can’t even escape it indoors—it penetrates walls and gets inside your head, interrupting your work and your kids’ homework, raising the levels of stress hormones of everyone and creating a host of negative health and environmental effects.

And when one leaf blower finally stops wailing, it’s only a matter of time before another one revs up nearby.

“Why did we tolerate these machines for so long?”

Not everything that’s annoying or polluting should be banned, but you’d be hard pressed to invent a machine that does so much harm to so many people across a neighborhood for so little benefit.

Besides disturbing the peace, leaf blowers contribute to health conditions like asthma, high blood pressure, compromised immune systems, hearing loss, heart disease, and more. And often, the workers tasked with operating these machines have the least access to health care and are exposed repeatedly and directly, for hours each day, when rakes and brooms are nearly as efficient, and battery leaf blowers are now as capable as–and cheaper to operate than–gas ones.

Environmentally, the gas blowers are the worst of the worst. Most have two-stroke engines, burning the oil they use, sending toxic air across the neighborhood, where it lingers for days. Edmunds, the automotive information website, determined two-stroke leaf blowers put out far more smog, hydrocarbons, and other harmful pollutants than even the biggest, baddest Ford V8 truck. The two-stroke leaf blower put out the same amount of hydrocarbons in a half hour as the Ford truck would driving from northern Texas all the way to Anchorage, Alaska.

And then—there’s climate change. As if the incessant noise and serious health effects weren’t bad enough, leaf blowers directly emit greenhouse gases and exacerbate climate change, threatening the lives and livelihoods of future generations—and our own.

We’re all eating all these costs, every day, for the dubious benefit of pushing dirt and leaves around. Brooms, rakes, and if necessary, electric blowers can do the same job without the massive costs.

We can live in a cleaner and healthier community by supporting the ban on leaf blowers in the city of Santa Cruz.

When it passes, and we’re enjoying cleaner air and newfound peace in our yards, gardens, and homes, we’ll all wonder, “Why did we wait so long?”

The Santa Cruz Coalition for a Healthy and Safe Environment (C.H.A.S.E.) is beginning a new push to convince the city council to finally ban gas-powered leaf blowers. You can help restore peace and clean air by contacting city council members to let them know you support the ban on leaf blowers, and joining our campaign.