Editorial: Enforcement and Cooperation Needed for Summer Leaf Blower Regulations

The following is a Letter to the Editor published in the Newton TAB on August 16, 2017 and reprinted here with the permission of the authors, Karen Bray and Marcia Cooper.
After many years of deliberation, our City Councilors voted 20-4, on January 17th, 2017, in favor of increased quality of life for Newton residents by restricting leaf blower use to one electric blower per lot from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They also passed a year-round requirement that all blowers retain the manufacturer’s label showing a decibel level of 65 dB or less to facilitate enforcement of the long-standing noise level which has been in effect since 2009.
Contrary to what Andy Levin said in his recent editorial, Newton residents need MORE regulations and improved enforcement on leaf blowers. Currently, those of us who have been speaking out for less pollution and quieter neighborhoods have to live with leaf blowers every day of the year except holidays. Landscapers may use leaf blowers every day of the year except holidays and Sundays. Homeowners may use leaf blowers on Sundays so that gives us only a handful of blower-free days.
On April 29, 2017, the  Mass Medical Society came out in support of Newton’s new leaf blower ordinance. Their conclusion follows:
The noise, particulate matter, and other toxic emissions of gasoline-powered leaf blowers pose a risk to workers and the public, especially vulnerable populations such as children and elderly. The committee recommends adopting policy to recognize and address the health consequences of GLBs as well as inform municipalities who are considering implementing limitations or bans. “
Newton’s 65 decibel limit has been in effect in Newton since since 2009.  It isn’t new – it simply has been minimally enforced.  Contractors who have been using 77 dB blowers have been in violation of the noise ordinance for years.  77dB blowers are not a “standard” – they are a violation.  Complying with the ordinance need not entail paying more or “settling for a less attractive yard”.  There are a number of landscapers who do an excellent and competitively priced job in compliance with the ordinance.  For a list visit www.GreenNewton.org
We need better enforcement of our current ordinance, including the year-round 65 dB limit. We need leadership on the part of the city in making the ordinance work. With a can-do attitude, public spaces can be well-maintained without causing unnecessary noise and air pollution.
We ask our neighbors and fellow Newtonians, the landscapers, to use a more cooperative approach. We ask them to bring their ingenuity and skills to bear to comply with the new ordinance, in hopes of living in a more peaceful and healthy city.
Karen Bray, Newton CALM
Newton Centre
 
Marcia Cooper, President Green Newton
Waban