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January 02, 2012


Timothy Hooker

Think you missed the boat. It isn't the allergens and the gas fumes of the two-cycle motors; it is the sending the poison insecticides airborne into the neighborhood and the 100 decibel noise level that has destroyed the tranquility of Burlingame neighborhoods.

The municipal code states a 65 decibel limit. Reality....they are all over that level and there is zero enforcement. The first indication that a leaf-blower is too loud is when the gardener is wearing headphones to protect against ear drum damage.


There are also plug-ins. They're just as quiet!

holyroller @hotwire.com

I agree with Mr. Hooker.
The laws are there, and have been for VERY LONG TIME.
No need for a study group.
Just enforce the ordinance that has been on the "books" for years.
This is a perfect exaple of "to much goverment."


Burlingame is pretty breezy in most parts; even without blowers, there is a fair amount of dust spread about. I think the issue that mostly bothers people, is noise. This is a noisy city, like most others. There is noise from all kinds of sources -- what is irritating to some people, may be 'white' noise to others. I have a particular dislike of modified muffler noise and motorcyles, surely these emit more than the allowable decibel levels-- yet others may find loud car noises exhilarating.

I think the bigger issue is simply, how can any of this be enforced? It is hard, if not impossible, to consistently enforce many of our ordinances- enforcement mainly comes when complaints are called in. Yet since the police and our ordinance officer are stretched too far and broadly to address most issues while they are happening, this becomes an impossible task. I see things only getting worse in this regard; I'm not sure what the answer is...
At some point, the industry standards may change, but that will likely be very gradual.


You still need somewhere to plug in the plug-in blowers. Very few people have outdoor outlets in the right places to make this easy to do so it becomes a major home project to get there.


Here is the Daily Journal's take on the discussion:

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=226011&title=Burlingame altering its leaf blower regulations


So if you remove half the residential days that gardeners can visit homes, won't you need 2x the number of residential gardeners? Maybe more if they choose to rake vs. blow (takes more time)? Guess math and common sense were never local politicians' forte.


From the e-newsletter:


The City Council will consider proposed modifications to the leaf blower ordinance at the next regular City Council meeting, Monday, Mar 5th at 7pm

Two Cents

Watched the Council Meeting about leaf blowers.
Note to Nagel & Keighran:



Talking so much..

Edit yourself. We don't need to know every little bit of information before you make a decision.


I think this is well-intentioned, but I don't think it is enforceable, and may present more problems than it tries to resolve. Many other ordinances were created in past decades, but in times when we were not sharing our one ordinance officer with another municipality. As far as talking to the neighbors about their gardeners, that depends on what type of neighbor one has. Some people are understanding, others are plain obnoxious. Maybe the best thing to come out of it will be that the machinery will be tested for decibel levels- simply for informational purposes....


I can't wait to rat on my neighbor that I don't get along with. Good plan Burlingame. What's next smoking in your back yard?

Timothy Hooker

I love dissecting the business numbers. Here is how it works. The gardeners meet as an association and the primary topic is how to get more productivity out of the average worker. Net Profit:

Solution is to develop a more powerful gas blower capable of moving large amounts of grass and debris in less time regardless of the environmental results or noise levels.

Now they are able to get ten yards per day versus 8 yards per day. They proably even offer workers an incentive to finish faster.

The smaller landscapers go to the local lawn mower repair shops and have the motors specifically rigged with high performance devices making the leaf blowers louder and more dangerous by removing any filtering of the exhaust. You can pick these out from three blocks away.

Its all about how quickly they can finish a yard.

Timothy Hooker

What if you approached this issue as a overall noice effort. The train company hasn't fitted the trainis with the lower horns they say, then the leaf blowers, excessive car noise from sound systems, special mufflers, and the worst violators; the large motorcycles in the areae are all guilty.

If we had it posted that Burlingame was a "Noise Quality Zone" and excessive noice violators may receive a fine would cover the "Quality of Life" objective our town is hoping to achieve.

I am not sure how you manage the poisons the blowers put out.


It looks like a letter campaign is starting

Apparently, the Burlingame City Council has nothing better to do than to change the laws regarding leaf blowers in Burlingame. Now all gardeners will have only one day in an assigned area when they will be allowed to mow. This will mean that one day a week, all homes in that one area will have many gardeners mowing and blowing and making noise rather than having it as it is now with noise and pollution only occasionally. If more money is what’s desired, and it seems to be the case, then go ahead and require the leaf blowers to be inspected and collect the money, but do not impair the gardeners from making a living as they see fit. It’s a free country.

The idea of having only one day a week, without being fined, for mowing is ridiculous. What if for two weeks, on the day your gardener is scheduled, it rains so heavily the lawn can’t be mowed? What if you have a special occasion for which you’d like your lawns mowed, but it’s the wrong day for your gardener? What if the homeowner can only mow his lawn on a weekday?

All problems do not have to be addressed by new legislation. A sensible approach to inspecting equipment and allowing gardeners free reign to schedule their customers would be reasonable. I hope the council will rethink this silly law.

Barbara Nagata

It seems the Burlingame City Council has no idea of what they just created. One day a week hundreds of homes, with gardeners, will be using leaf blowers. They claim it is for noise and health reasons. However, I wonder if they even gave a thought to how much dust and debris will be blown into the air on the one day a week. This looks to me like they didn’t think at all about what they were going create, only the ability to charge $5 per leaf blower and a $25 noise test. The result of this new ordinance, only going to create more health problems in the areas being blown on the same day. This is dumb ordinance, and one that causes more problems than it solves. Get real council, and cancel this ordinance before it starts.

Dan Andersen


Everywhere I go people are up in arms about this leaf blower thing. What were they thinking? Who is going to manage this mess? Do we really think all the gardeners are going to work on the same day? I don't get it.

pat giorni

All I can say is it will probably get ugly down at Code Enforcement where we share our only officer with Millbrae


Well, the new regulation is upon us! The BPD just put out a non-emergency robocall reminding everyone that the reg starts on July 1st (this Sunday) and I can tell you from my discussions in the grocery stores, restaurants and shops in town that it is not going down well with a lot of people! Should be interesting.


Such a nice quiet morning. Really like the leaf-blower regulations.

The gardeners themselves are more watchful and polite as well- making sure they do not blow stuff on passersby.


So I guess all of you who support this ordinance like the fact that from some hour in the AM to some hour in the PM in your given area, dust, fumes and noise will be far more abundant than it is right now? How ridiculously absurd. Shame on the council.

pat giorni

Geez...it's Sunday. No paid gardeners work on Sunday. Only noise you'd hear is from your neighbors' gas/electric mowers and leaf blowers...and today was toooo nice a day to waste doing house and yard work.

So my back yard is full of leaves and I'm not allowed to blow until Friday. What's say I get the shop vac to suck 'em up? I sure hope no one mistakes the noise for a blower...but at least I won't get fined!


Today, as I walked around my neighborhood I heard many sounds. I heard birds singing and trees rustling in the breeze. I heard neighbors talking and kids playing. The air was clean and the flowers smelled more fragrant than usual.

Lawn mowers, trimmers and leaf blowers were silent and nowhere to be found. I didn’t cough once or find it necessary to cross the street to avoid the pollution in the air.

Thanks to the courageous and unanimous decision by the Burlingame City Council to limit leaf blower use it was a wonderfully peaceful walk!


Just wait til it is YOUR area day, "Jeff" and let's see what wonderment you have to share then. You are nuts.


A.L.Bird, you might be right about the "nuts" part but it sure was peaceful out there today!


I heard motorcycles, ambulances, airplanes and this crazy raking sound that lasted most of the morning. Then the wind picked up and I closed my window because of all the dust flying around. I did hear a car driving by at high speed. I am assuming it was BPD racing to issue a citation.


There were two leaf blower complaints on Tuesday (July 10th) that BPD responded to. One was a mistake by the caller. The other got the gardener some educational material. Tuesday's police log is here:


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