#81 Leaf Blowers

Every year, just after labor day, autumn descends on God’s Country. It is a time when one can finally switch out summer sweaters for winter sweaters! The air becomes crisp and misty! And at least a dozen local hipsters must be rescued from the Sauvie Island Corn Maize. Oh yeah, and motherf**kers start busting out their leaf blowers.

Up and down the streets of Portland walk lazy bastards with the equivalent of a backwards vacuum strapped to their backs, blowing their leaf refuse into the streets. Nothing ruins a perfectly nice fall morning/afternoon/night/midnight than a leaf blower, revved up and spitting gasoline into your face as you walk by. But, you may argue, people all across this great nation use leaf blowers. Why is this something that sucks about Portland? Because Portlanders should know better.

Late 2009, citizens within the city limits of Portland tried to gets these noise/air pollutants banned. Instead, our City Government came up with mandatory decibel levels for leaf blowers. You could now receive a $300-$3000 fine for blowing too loud in Portland. The max level is set to about the sound of a noisy restaurant or vacuum cleaner outside your window. But Holy Hell!!! It sounds much louder and more annoying than Henrys at happy hour… Okay, so maybe not as annoying as this conversation overheard at Henry’s Tavern:

Guy- I work in the M Financial building as a banker.
Girl- Oh that’s neat! I’ve been a stylist for about three years.
Guy- So, what made you want to jump on Match.com?”

Besides the obvious arguments against leaf blowers (loud, noxious, ineffective) there is also the fact that when you choose to live in a “liveable” city, you sign up for certain amount of self awareness for the good of the neighborhood. One such “inconvenience” is to get off your lazy a$$ and rake your yard! Unfortunately for the people living downtown, you don’t have a say in the ungodly hours that leaf blowers are contracted to operate. So instead of working on a way to ban them, let’s keep doing what every average Portlander does best: bitch about it on the internet!

8 thoughts on “#81 Leaf Blowers

  1. The worst is when they blow the non existent leaves in dead of winter, yet there are absolutely no leaves on the trees… I don’t get how they expect us to know what a reasonable decibel level is? Are we supposed to go outside right next to them with a meter and then go nope calling noise complaint on ya..?

  2. The City of Portland has an ordinance, Portland City Code §18.10.035 – a subsection of Title 18, Noise Control, regulating the use of leaf blowers. §18.10.035.B establishes the hours a leaf blower may be used in (1) Commerciall Zones and (2) Residential Zones.

    Leaf blower manufacturers must submit third party, e.g., ANSI, compliance testing information to the City of Portland Noise Control Office (503-823-7350) to be included on the City’s list of approved leaf blowers (http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/?c=65096&a=260377).

    If your neighbors’ leaf blowers or those of their lawn crews are not on the list, e.g., Stihl 550 or Stihl BR600 Magnum – these are particular favorites of private contractors and Portland’s Parks & Recreation Department, use of same violates the Noise Ordinance. Violators are subject to progressive fines.

    Paul VanOrden (noise@portlandoregon.gov) is the City’s Noise Control Office at the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. Call him (503-823-7350) or email him. Be prepared to substantiate the violation. He and his staff will act on your complaint.

  3. I live in Gresham, I just spent the last two evenings listening to the constant roar of not one, but two leaf blowers, blasting full throttle, from when I returned home from work @3:00pm till 7:00ish because my very weird neighbor behind me enjoys making noise. Seriously this guy loves to make all of us neighbors along this fence line suffer, because, he’s upset that this sub-division went in. What can be done?

    • Portland has an ordinance that governs the use of leaf blowers. The ordinance specifies what time leaf blowers may be used, what models maybe used, distinguishes between residential and business areas. Check to see if Gresham has a similar ordinance.

  4. Whats worse is the use of them in the city areas, i cant tell you how many times a week i hear a leaf blower in the winter or the summer because they need to have their fix of blowing a twig at mach 100. Give it time and enough bitching and the city will ban it, at least in the off seasons with any luck. Heres an interesting article for people to look at if they think its still worth wild. http://www.terranovalandscaping.com/blog/2012/01/26/the-blow-by-blow-on-leaf-blowers/

  5. Janine — If they’re firing up the leafblowers at 7:05am, reguardless of whether its legal or not I’d call the cops anyway.

    The electric leafblowers are nowhere near as bad, and quite frankly, sometimes you need one to clear a yard. But don’t break balls — do it in the middle of the day, people.

    “revved up and spitting gasoline into your face as you walk by” WTF? If a leaf blower is spitting gasoline, I’d tell them to turn it off, IMMEDIATELY. And if they still don’t get it, produce a match.

  6. This is the worst thing about Gresham as well, and started in… July? According to the City of Gresham, leaf blowers and other maintenance are perfectly legal as early as 7am. 7am! My apartment building takes advantage of this on Tuesdays and the building just behind our apartment on Saturdays, both between 7-9am. HATE.

  7. Nailed it. I actually had a conversation with a management team of a LEED certified building and asked them how they can actually support leaf blowers as part of the outside maintenance. Their reply to me was that the certification of building has nothing to do with the maintenance of the building. Don’t even get me started on them not signing up for the green energy option. Apparently sustainability only went as far as the pretty plaque the building received.

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