Silver Lake buzzing over leaf blowers

It’s been more than a decade since the city banned noisy and smelly gasoline-powered leaf blowers near homes after a contentious battle between residents and primarily Latino gardeners. But, at least in some sections of Silver Lake, the leaf blower issue has roared back to life, with residents complaining about increasing noise and an indifferent city bureaucracy. “I’ve tried to report gas-powered leaf blowers,” said one resident at a Wednesday night committee meeting of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. “Nobody ever did anything.”

Many in attendance at the meeting said that most residents have forgotten the 1998 ordinance, which banned the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers within 500 feet of homes. However, electric leaf blowers and other devices are still permitted, causing some confusion. The LAPD website recommends that residents with complaints about noisy leaf blowers call the “Leaf Blower Complaint Line.” But that number, 1-800-996-CITY, directs callers to the main number of the city’s Public Works Department, and there is no mention of leaf blowers on a menu of services.

The leaf blower issue was placed on the agenda of last night’s meeting after a resident on Panorama Terrace complained about the potential health hazards associated with the exhaust of the gas-powered machines, said Elizabeth Bougart-Sharkov, chair of the neighborhood council’s of Silver Lake’s Urban Design & Preservation Committee. “We have to find an alternative,” she said.

But what are residents to do since not many expect the city to devote more resources to police the illegal blowers? One person suggested a public shaming of residents whose gardeners use the illegal blowers and another proposed offering rebates to purchase electric powered machines. But after some discussion and joking about banning blow jobs in Silver Lake, many on the committee and in the audience seemed inclined to launch a public education program about the current law, perhaps in the form of flyers and door hangers.

The topic and a proposal is scheduled to come up again at the committee’s April meeting.

Photo from GasPoweredLeafBlower


  1. Folks, please know the LAPD will come if you call them on the non-emegency #. I know this from personal experience. Call 1-877-275-5273. Give the exact address. The dispatcher will say "we'll send squad car out" and sure enough they do (barring emergency). If we don't call we're complicit in this stupid polluting petty crime. LAPD's de facto policy is this: they only enforce the law when they get a complaint. LAPD is reactive (not proactive, that's our job). The problem is total impunity. The answer is to get the cops to enforce the law. The only way to do that is to report the lawbreakers. It's a $100 fine to the gardner and another $100 for the owner. But only if you call. P.S. The gas blowers are bad for the gardener's health.

  2. Does the leafblowers ban apply to apartment buildings?

  3. Officers cannot possibly get to the location in time to see the blower being used. Call 311 to report. If the blower is in use, they will connect you to the LAPD dispatcher, who will send a squad car if one is near. If not, 311 will connect you to Street Services, who will take a report and pass it on. AND, ask your local Senior Lead Officer to take reports by email (as well as reporting through 311 or 877-ASK-LAPD) and to cite several violators within a couple of hours every few weeks, when he or she can work it in — but on a regular basis. And, YES, an apartment is a residence. Gas blowers have to be 500 feet away from any residence of any kind.

  4. I had to call the city dozens of times in order to get them to enforce the law. They continually told me that they arrived to the address I gave them, but no one was using a leaf blower. I wasn’t surprised as they didn’t arrive until hours after I rang.

    I spoke with an investigator, who told me it was difficult to get in touch with the owners of the apartment building, so I did a quick internet search and found the information. When I gave it to the investigator, the problem stopped. I’m not sure why the investigator wasn’t able to do the same 30 second internet search, but hey, I understand. That would be work… for someone at work. Not exactly what a City employee concentrates on during the business day.

    If you call about a leaf blower complaint, you would be wise to have the name and telephone number of the building owner available. Even then, it will take numerous calls to get anything done. Ring them every time the leaf blower gets used, and don’t worry when they tell you that you are bothering them with multiple complaints. It’s their job to field our concerns, even if they don’t want to do it.

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