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  • David A.F. Sweet

Myers Discusses Rules on When to Use Gas Leaf Blowers

By David A. F. Sweet Chuck Myers is the Superintendent of Parks, Forestry and Natural Resources for the City of Lake Forest. He oversees the management and maintenance of parks, urban forestry activities, and natural areas within the city. He is involved with recommending rules on the use of leaf blowers in the City.

"Respect your neighbors by avoiding the use of leaf blowers early in the morning or late at night when noise can be especially disruptive," says Chuck Myers.

What are the current regulations for residents concerning gas leaf blowers?

The City Code allows the operation and use of gas-powered lawn maintenance equipment, including leaf blowers, with some limitations on hours of use.  According to the City Code, it is unlawful to operate lawn maintenance equipment including, but not limited to, lawn mowers, tractors and gasoline-powered leaf blowers before 7:30 a.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. on Sundays and holidays, and after 7:30 p.m. on weekdays 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 5 p.m. on Sundays and holidays, except as authorized by the City Manager. This restriction does not apply to golf course maintenance operations.

 

When was the last time the regulations were amended, and what were the changes?

 

In March 2019, City Council approved an amendment to the City Code that reduced the hours at the end of the day on Saturdays and Sundays where one could use gas leaf blowers.  

Why are our gas leaf blower regulations different from those of nearby suburbs?

 

In 2022, the City was involved with a Regional Leaf Blower Working Group that was formed to evaluate the need and impact for leaf-blower regulations to be considered by each participating municipality. The group was tasked with studying the impacts of gas-powered leaf blowers, alternative technologies and how communities could mitigate the impacts of this equipment. The group recognized that the circumstances of participating municipalities are different, and the final report produced did not indicate whether a community should prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Instead, the report identified best practices to consider should it be determined that gas-powered leaf blower regulations were appropriate in a particular community.

 

As a result of the report, communities opted for various options to deal with the issue of gas-powered leaf blowers, such as:

·      The individual characteristics of the community may warrant no change to regulations with continued monitoring of leaf blower technology.

·      Some communities may opt to change the allowable hours of operation for gas-powered leaf blowers.

·      A seasonal gas-powered leaf blower ban from approximately May 15 through Sept. 30 was the most common approach for communities that elected to impose a ban.

·      Gas-powered leaf blowers could be banned during the summer and winter with an eight-week window during the fall clean-up season (Oct. 1-Nov. 30) and four-week window (April 1 – April 30) during the spring clean-up season when gas-powered leaf blowers could be utilized.

 

 What is the City’s stance on electric leaf blowers?

 

The City Council has had several community conversations over the years about leaf blower and landscape equipment usage. These discussions have considered potential bans, suitable hours of operation, alternative solutions/equipment, and public education efforts to encourage gasoline-alternative equipment usage. In 2019 the City Council reduced the allowable hours for gasoline-powered leaf blowers, but it has not previously supported an outright ban of the equipment. Given the number of large lots and mature canopy in Lake Forest, battery-operated and electric leaf blowers present technological shortcomings. This is still the approach that the City is taking. The discussion of an outright bans draws major interest on both sides of the issue, and one of the major challenges to a potential ban is how and by whom such an ordinance could be fairly enforced throughout the community.

 

What advice can the City offer to those using all types of leaf blowers?

 

Hopefully, as the industry continues to evolve toward more environmentally friendly and quieter options, we will start to see electric-powered equipment become more common place. In the meantime, I would suggest community members be mindful and considerate regarding the use of leaf blowers to maintain a balance between the convenience they offer and the noise and environmental concerns they raise. Residents may want to explore alternative methods of leaf removal such as raking, mulching, or using electric leaf blowers, which are typically quieter and produce fewer emissions than gas-powered models. Respect your neighbors by avoiding the use of leaf blowers early in the morning or late at night when noise can be especially disruptive.

 

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