by Janet Cox

Leaf blowers are everywhere in Sacramento. I’m glad I moved away from there because it is not a quiet place. Where I used to live and work I would listen to leaf blowers 3 hours a day, seven days a week. On Thursday, it would be all day–from 6:30 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon.

We lived adjacent to a large upscale shopping center with an office complex next door. With all of its beautiful trees, their gardeners had the enormous task of cleaning up leaves each morning, seven days a week, including holidays. They would use 2-3 leaf blowers with their mufflers removed and the sound would be deafening. This noise precluded our ever using our outside deck and garden area in the morning.

On holidays when we were home relaxing or entertaining guests, they were particularly irritating. On the first Thanksgiving in our townhouse, I was just putting the turkey in the oven when my cousin and aunt arrived; I had not seen them in four years. When they arrived, two gardeners were on the other side of the fence with leaf blowers going full blast. We had to shout our hellos while we helped my elderly aunt out of the car and explain by gesturing and pointing to show my cousin where he could park his car.

We wrote numerous letters, made phone calls, and issued complaints to the property management, but didn’t get a response until we wrote to the owner at his home. Then management called and said that their gardeners would not use their leaf blowers near our fence. That would last a few weeks at a time; then the gardeners would be over next to the fence again until we called to complain again.

Our complex also employed gardeners with leaf blowers that came every Thursday. We repeatedly asked our Homeowners Association to hire gardeners who did not use leaf blowers–but to no avail. At 6:00 am blowers would start at the office building next door, then at the shopping center, and then the gardeners at our townhouse complex would arrive as I was leaving for work.

At my workplace, Thursdays would be the day that I would travel to visit our clients in their homes. In this beautiful tree-lined community I had to listen to leaf blowers being used in every block near each client I visited.

Our Courts for centuries have agreed that the Constitution gives us rights to “the quiet enjoyment of our property,” and this is why every municipality has noise laws in place (though they are very often not enforced). We are paying a price for this, in the loss of our peace of mind.