Twenty years ago or so, not too many people were using leaf blowers. Maybe they couldn't afford garden services. Maybe the machines were too expensive. Maybe they just enjoyed raking and sweeping. Who knows ? But we do know that the leaf blower noise has increased dramatically. And the dust and the pollution they create. Of course, you realize this as well. Now, we want to do something, and with your support. The more people who help make Seattle more livable, the more likely we will see results. We will build up momentum city-wide.
We wish to start by working with you and other stake holders, we wish to find solutions that can help mitigate leaf blower problems and keep people employed. Our stakeholders should be broad and varied, including you, some commercial operators, some of their employees, the Seattle Parks Department, commercial property owners, perhaps some manufacturers, and ultimately the mayor and city council. We may not come up with a 100% consensus, but we do need to hear from everyone and pick a solution that works.
There are different approaches we can take. Before we come to any conclusions, let's get all the stakeholders together, including the yard care industry, and hear everyone's concerns.
Let's expect to hear push back from the industry. "It will cost too much to use rakes and brooms and we'll be putting minorities out of work." Or, "we've heard that electric leaf blowers don't work." Or, "our customers demand we use leaf blowers or they won't hire us." And more. Frankly, I doubt any of these are true at face value. We need to talk, listen, and learn.
The most drastic solution would be an outright ban on all leaf blowers. I suspect that isn't what our membership will want. But if it does, that's what we will push for. An outright ban would preclude using leaf blowers for cases where they might be the only practical tool for an important job.
A partial ban might be acceptable. We could restrict usage to certain hours or exclude weekends for commercial operators. Or, we could require electric only blowers, which are quieter but still kick up dust and mold spores. Or, engage manufacturers to certify that their machines don't exceed some particular sound level. At the same time, many customers may be fine with broom sweeping instead of blowing.
What ever we decide, we need to hear from a wide variety of users. For example, I've seen roofers use leaf blowers to clear standing water off flat roofs before applying new roofing. Would squeegee brooms work just as well or better or do they really need a blower? We need to find out. What do homeowners actually want? Would they prefer clippings and leaves (maybe shredded leaves) remain on the ground as mulch around the bases of shrubs? They provide protection for the roots, hold water, and add nutrients to the soil. Maybe people would actually like that.
With your help, we will come up with other ideas and solutions. Make your voice be heard.
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