Silver Lake council to help enforce ban on gas-powered leaf blowers

Photo by CJC4454/Flickr

By Tony Cella

The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council took on the job Wednesday night of assisting the Los Angeles Police Department in enforcing the ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.

“We know they’re loud. We know they’re dirty. We know they cause diseases for those with COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] and other respiratory diseases,” said council member Anne-Marie Johnson, whose motion to create a leaf-blower task force was approved the governing board.

The task force won’t have a budget because the dollar amount wasn’t stated on last evening’s agenda but Johnson already had plans for the committee. The board member intends to create bilingual flyers to remind residents that gasoline-fueled leaf blowers are illegal and explain alternatives, such as electric refuse scatterers. She said the task force will deal with offenders on a “neighbor by neighbor” basis.

Johnson also said she would refer violators to buyback programs, where city agencies would exchange illegal blowers for city-approved models at a nominal charge, if any. Gas-powered leaf blower buy-backs, similar to illegal gun turn ins, have existed in the past but their present status is unknown.

She claimed the council will use outreach and informative methods to counteract ban violators because not all home owners, or employees of landscaping companies, know of the ban.

“The city did a horrible job of outreach and education,” she said.

Johnson also mentioned, however, that not everyone is so innocently ignorant.

“This is one of the many ordinances people gladly ignore,” she said.

Silver Lake Neighborhood Council meeting/Tony Cella

Up until the council agreed to help, the LAPD dealt with ban breakers on it own. The cops requested the help because the department is underfunded, understaffed and has higher priorities than dealing with lengthy calls regarding noise nuisances, such as leaf blowers, Johnson said. Violating the ban can lead to a fine of up to $100.

The code “does not preclude anyone from using other devices such as a gas-powered vacuum device or electric-leaf blower,” according to the LAPD website. “Officers enforce Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 112.04(c) in the same manner as any other infraction.”

Johnson recommends residents contact the council if they spot offenders or write down the time, place and date of the offense and report the instance to the Department of Street Services’ Investigation and Enforcement Division if the offenses are severe.

Business owner Karen Speitel, who attended the meeting, denounced gas-powered leaf blowers as a “huge problem for businesses” and wished the ban, instituted in 1998, included electric blowers because they generate almost as much noise. She also volunteered to pass out Johnson’s flyers at her business.

In the past, the ban has been criticized as anti-Latino and classist because many violators are poor immigrants working in the landscaping business.

Treasurer Anthony Crump, who supported the measure, dubbed Johnson “a champion of quality of life issues” but recommended she focus on matters such as businesses cleaning up after themselves.

“That effects a lot more people than gas-powered leaf blowers,” he said.

Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.


  1. I’ve been listining to a leaf blower for about an hour now. There is one going for at least 2 hours a day. Would love to actully see this ban thats been in effect for well over 10 years actually enforced.

  2. This will NEVER NEVER NEVER be enforced for the same reason illegal food vendors are not ticketed. The people you are targeting don’t have the funds to pay the fines. No money for the city = no enforcement.

    The only chance you have is fining the home owners who hire people to use the gas blowers. Good luck with that one in court…

  3. File this under white people problems.

    • No, we’re all red inside and they can potentially fuck up your respiratory and pulmonary system as much anyone else’s. File your comment under “dumb people problem”.

    • Moderated Version:

      No, we’re all red inside and they can potentially wreck your respiratory and pulmonary system as much anyone else’s. File your comment under “dumb people problem”.

    • What part of this has anything to do with race?

    • HootchieKootchie

      “File this under white people problems”?? You are an idiot. It’s a health problem and hazard for every human being. Good Lord, the lack of intelligence among so many people in this city is AMAZING…

  4. I hope one day they ban them altogether. I live in Burbank and there are limits (like not before 8AM or for only 15 minutes within an hour). Last year I had quite a problem with next door market, and contacted Burbank City, they sent someone a couple of times to give warning, and now it’s better (in the sense that it doesn’t start before 8, and they don’t run it more than 20-30 minutes).

  5. Rakes and brooms can do the same thing, and I’ve done a lot of this work. They are much effective really, instead of scattering debris all over and into the air, you get a controlled pile, and a nice little workout. No need for gas or electricity!

    • at last, common sense..! or maybe if the leaf blown into a bag instead of oh just next door, or into the air… give me a beak! this isn’t gardening…call it garden butchery…….. good gardeners love plants and wouldn’t blow debris and hot air all over them…….i know its about convenience, but like bad convenience food, it has a down side….

  6. It seems the dust is the major problem, not whether blowers are gas or electric powered. Buy back should be a broom and a rake.

  7. The solution to the problem is quite simple-do your own gardening. I am sure that the burden of daily/weekly cleanup will make abundantly clear the utility of blowers and turn your attention to more pressing matters-organized activity in the meadow, how many coffee shops are too many, people parking at gelsons but shopping at trader joes

    • Leaf blowers are also quite bad for the people that use them – that’s a lot of hearing damage and lung damage you can sustain if you’re using it every day for months at a time, even if you’re wearing ear plugs and a mask, since they don’t cover perfectly. It’s more like the smoking ban and how it helps waiters.

      Although, just replacing them with electric leaf blowers doesn’t help the air quality very much.

  8. Kenny’s right. The blowers are bad news for all of us, including those who use them. The city needs to do a better job of education and enforcement. If you care about this issue, please forward a link to this article to your friends and neighbors. Let’s get the word out, and make it happen.

  9. 1400 Edgecliffe Drive

    The 1300-1400 Edgecliffe block is notorious for gas powered leaf blowers all week long.
    Try 9am most Mondays at the complex including 1400 for a lung full of exhaust and dust.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *