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What's Bugging You? Illegal leaf blowers

ABC7 Eyewitness News: What's Bugging You?
November 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
What's bugging you? Loud, dirty and illegal leaf blowers in Los Angeles. You told us leaf blowers are bugging you. Here's how to silence them for good.They create noise and pollution and a lot of anger, too.

"It's a deadly machine. The worst invention of the 20th century," said Joan Graves, founder of Zero Air Pollution Los Angeles. She doesn't like to call them leaf blowers; she calls them "dirt blowers."

According to Zero Air Pollution Los Angeles, leaf blowers generate as much carbon-dioxide emissions in one hour as a car driven for 100 miles. That bugs her.

"When it comes into my area, into my property, into my home, into my kitchen, into my body, then I get really upset," said Graves.

Studies show these leaf blowers produce a noise level of 70 to 90 decibels. What does that mean? Healthy daytime noise levels should not exceed 55 decibels.

"I get some headaches sometimes when I have to use it, but it's my job," said gardener Jesus Mercado.

Mercado says he hears the complaints, but says if he did this by hand, it would take hours and cost homeowners a lot more money.

"They complain that they're polluting the earth, that's what they say. Polluting, and the noise level's too high," said Mercado. "I say, 'I can't help it, I got a job to do.'"

Opponents say they just move dirt around and kick up dust and whatever else is in that debris that gets blown around.

"The pollution -- just worrying about what I'm breathing," said L.A. resident Anthony Garrison. "I really don't like them."

In the city of Los Angeles, gas-powered blowers are illegal. It's been that way since 1998. But we see them anyway, used by landscapers and gardeners all the time.

"I hear leaf blowers all the time as I'm driving around as well," said L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. "It's frustrating if you want your peace and quiet. But the reality is, it isn't a priority in keeping with the other issues that police have to deal with."

But Rosendahl says that doesn't mean citizens can't do something about it. You have to get together with other neighbors and organize.

"If somebody out there wants to complain, they should call the police and tell them about it," said Rosendahl. "The police will record it. They should be active in their neighborhood groups. They should be on their neighborhood watch committees."

Graves says that's because enforcement only happens if neighbors complain enough. If leaf blowers are bugging you, you have to call up the city.

Newer electric leaf blowers are legal in the Los Angeles, but some wonder why we use leaf blowers at all.

"I think you should just use a broom," said Garrison. "Sweep. Very easy. Just take a little time out to sweep and you'll be OK."


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