Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Still Here

What does it take to get a law enforced in Santa Barbara?

I don’t mean just any law, but one that over 9000 city residents signed to get on the ballot, one which was passed by a substantial majority, and which has been on the books for 15 years.

I refer to Ordinance number 5036, section 9.16.021 of the City Code, which prohibits use of gasoline powered leaf blowers.

To say that this law is not being effectively enforced would be an understatement. The noisy, obnoxious, and polluting machines, little changed or improved since their menace was first recognized, are still widely in use, even though existing law provides for a much less objectionable electric-powered alternative.

Those of us who worked so hard to secure passage of this ban are appalled and frustrated that, after all this time, so little is being done to enforce it. When attempts are made to call police against violators, the complainers are usually given to understand that this is a very low-priority matter. If police do arrive before the violators have left the scene, they (the police) often show little respect or sympathy for the person lodging the complaint.

There are many steps which could be taken to improve this situation, but they all depend on the cooperation and support of the city administration:

1. An official city document in English and Spanish could be prepared and distributed, clearly stating the law and the penalties for its violation.

2. Police could be instructed to take this law seriously, and empowered to confiscate offending machines.

3. Concerned citizens could be instructed on the proper way to document and report violations, e.g. by taking photographs of violators and their vehicles (including of course the license plates.)

4. Local media could be encouraged to report arrests, convictions, and fines of violators.

5. The mayor herself could issue a statement detailing the problem and the measures being taken to improve enforcement.

Thank you for giving this matter serious attention.

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