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Comments & Curiosities: One vote to blow them all away

March 26, 2011|By Peter Buffa

It happens. Not often, but it happens.

A city council makes a decision and next thing you know, kaboom! It's the shot heard round the world. That's what happened recently, right here, in Newport Beach.

Last Tuesday, the City Council decided on a 4-3 vote to ban gas-powered leaf blowers. You can still use electric leaf blowers, not as noisy or stinky, the neighbors hate you slightly less. Oh, and homeowners associations can opt out of the leaf blower-free zone movement if they choose. All in all, a bold move by the council and for me, déjà vu all over again.

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I keep looking for the advantages of having really gray hair but haven't found any, save one: Once you get a slew of rodeos under your belt, there is very little that you haven't seen and/or done.

Leaf blower bans are like comets. They come, they go, they come back. Tried it a couple of times during my city council years in a neighboring city — they came, they went, they came back — and was never sure why.

But there is one thing about leaf blowers that isn't hard to figure out: People hate them. A lot.

And we're not talking about "hate them" like I hate reality TV and Miracle Whip. We're talking about really, really hating them, at a primal, visceral level. You know how cats feel about dogs? How Madonna feels about Lady Gaga? How Moammar Kadafi feels about Barack Obama and how Charlie Sheen feels about everything? People hate leaf blowers way more than that.

About the only people who don't are the peeps who make their living as gardeners. Gardeners think leaf blowers are the greatest invention since air, maybe greater. Mow it, blow it, drive, repeat. So what's the heartburn for the rest of us?

During the leaf blower smackdown in Newport Beach Tuesday night, Councilman Rush Hill's comments were eloquent and succinct.

"I hate blowers," Hill said. "They just drive us crazy in our house."

Personally I would advise against using a leaf blower in the house — crazy noisy and they stink up the place, but there are lots and lots of people who agree with Rush. To start with, most people would rather play a CD of fingernails on a chalkboard during dinner than listen to a gas-powered leaf blower, which sounds like a lawn mower that just ran over a chain.

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