Regulation of leaf blowers or other gas-powered equipment by local or regional authorities may be implemented through a general regulation, such as a noise or pollution ordinance, or an equipment-specific regulation, such as a leaf blower ban. Regulation is only one of many approaches to controlling excessive and inappropriate use of landscape maintenance equipment and should not be considered a panacea. For example, although regulations are in place in hundreds of towns and cities, they may be difficult to enforce.
Hundreds of communities in the US and worldwide have enacted or are trying to enact restrictions on leaf blowers and fossil fuel-based equipment. Activity has been especially strong in the states of California, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts. Hawaii has considered a statewide ban on gas-powered blowers. The country of Israel has enacted a national ban on leaf blowers.
Regulations Require Careful Consideration
Pinpointing and characterizing the nature of the problem is an important prerequisite to developing a regulation that is acceptable to members of a community. For example:
Does the problem occur – in commercial zones, residential zones, at schools or on public lands?
When does the noise and pollution become a problem? When a single machine is used or when multiple machines are used? When machines are used near people? When machines are employed for hours at a time or on consecutive days within a neighborhood?
Who will enforce the regulation? Is funding available for enforcement? Who bears the penalty? Property owners or contractors?
Here are some of the ways in which leaf blower regulations vary:
Full bans may include:
- All leaf blowers
- Gas-powered leaf blowers only
Seasonal bans may involve limiting use to:
- Certain hours of the day
- Certain days of the week
Other regulations may involve:
- The number of leaf blowers that can be used simultaneously on a parcel of land
- Decibel thresholds
- A defined distance from property lines
- Phasing-out use of equipment over time