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Topics and Issues...

Leaf Blowers

The current status of leaf blowers in Sebastopol is that city staff has been directed to examine the Noise Ordinance enacted summer of 2010 to clarify how the use of garden power tools (aka Domestic Power Equipment) can be allowed for reasonable use in the city. No date has been set yet for this to return to Council.

Key Votes

There have been 2 key votes on this issue:

  • March 1, 2011 - BAN leaf blowers, except in emergency cases - 3 in favor (Wilson, Kyes, Gurney), 2 opposed (Shaffer, Slater)
  • May 17, 2011 - rescind the BAN instructions to staff, instead work into existing Noise Ordinance - 4 in favor (Shaffer, Slater, Gurney, Wilson). None opposed. Kyes absent.

Reverse Timeline...

Note: Videos below are from the City website. Since they are many megabytes, a high-speed connection may be needed for viewing.)


October 2, 2012 Council Meeting. Sarah Gurney places Leaf Blowers on the agenda to receive the sub-committee report. Shaffer and Wilson provide summary of the committee's work, which in essence is described below. A brief discussion follows, with no new actions assigned. The issue appears to be resolved at this point. More details can be found in an email sent to the Council from SC's John Henel.

July 13, 2011 Sub-Committee Meeting. The "hardscape" sub-committee (Kathleen Shaffer and Guy Wilson) holds a meeting, open to the public. Also present to provide input are 3 landscape contractors, the manager of Petaluma Homes, and 3 representatives from Sebastopol Citizens. With the emphasis on education and communication to solve problems, and the use of best practices and common sense, no additional restrictions are proposed.

May 17, 2011 Council Meeting (video). Over 30 speakers address Council, including a coordinated presentation from SC members, along with an overflow crowd. Vast majority of opinions is in line with SC recommendations. City staff is directed to work issue through Noise Ordinance. BUT - committee is formed that leaves the door open to further restrictions.

March 15, 2011 Council Meeting (video). Mainstream Sebastopol speaks up in the public comment portion of the meeting, starting about half-way through video 1, through video 3.

March 1, 2011 Council Meeting (video). Video 5 has a presentation against leaf blowers, 6 has council discussion, and 7 includes the motion and vote to propose a BAN.

From the News...

Sarah Gurney shows her support for education over legislation in her June column of the Sonoma County Gazette.

More support from mainstream Sebastopol, letter from Linda Rouse to the Sonoma West 5/25.

Sonoma West coverage of the May 17 Council meeting, published 5/18/11.

Council retreats from the BAN, story in the PD on 5/18/11.

Letters to Sonoma West 4/6/11, guest column from John Henel, "How bad is it?" column from Frank Robertson.

Letters to Sonoma West: 3/23/11, 3/16/11, 3/9/11. "Strike up the BAN" column from Frank Robertson 3/23.

Sonoma West coverage of Council 3/15 meeting, David Abbott. And guest column from Julie Smith in same issue.

Letters to Press Democrat, 8 out of 9 letters CRITICAL of the BAN since the vote.

Sonoma drops its plan to ban, in Sonoma News 1/6/11.

Orinda declines to impose any restrictions, 11/16/10, council meeting minutes.

Fairfax votes to limit, not ban, in the Marin IJ.

Background, Studies, and Handouts

UC Riverside study, Fitz et al, EPA presentation. Sweeping concrete same as blowing.

CARB report, CA Air Resources Board report. No recommendation for alternatives. Recommendations on page 11 include education. Resulting resolution was passed.

June 8 - Followup letter to the City Council from Sebastopol Citizen, Jim Stephens.

Talking Points from Sebastopol Citizens, 3/21/11.

Letter to the City Council on 3/14/11, from Tombe Realty, Opposing the BAN.

Handout from Sebastopol Citizens, 3/10/11.