In the pastoral Curtis Park neighborhood, there is daily a disruption to the normal peace and quiet – the sound of mow-and-blow equipment raging above regulation sound levels, moving leaves about into piles.
Most Curtis Park homes have relatively small yards landscaped with low maintenance plants on streets lined by trees that shed leaves mainly in summer and fall. Yet for the sake of tidy yards, mow-and-blow services are employed year-round to trim slow-growing or dormant grass and blow away leaves that usually collect again just hours after the blowing is complete.
Nearby neighbors endure excessive noise levels when two-stroke gas engines heave and ho their high-pitched throttling.
Nearly every day of the week, mowing and blowing occurs within a block of our home. The afternoons are also filled with this noise, often from 2 to 4 p.m. Most homeowners are likely not at home when noisy services are tidying up their homes, so they don’t experience the noise and the particulate pollution.
A friend visiting from out of town was annoyed at the frequency of the noise near our home. According to a Sacramento Bee article in 2017, smog-producing particles and fumes from gas mowers, blowers and off road engines in 2016 were 81 percent that of a standard sedan car.
Not just homeowners, but workers too suffer the excessive noise and fumes. They are subjected to damaging noise levels and toxic fumes. They are asked to work in inclement weather, contributing to climate change even when there is little need for mowing and blowing in the dormant months of December through March.
The Sacramento noise ordinance specifies that motorized equipment must not be used before 9 a.m. and noise levels within 50 feet must not exceed 65 dBa (even that’s loud). Measuring noise levels with a cell phone sound meter, we have found noise levels at 75-90 dBa both inside and beyond a 50-foot radius.
We have witnessed neighbors blowing leaves from within a five-foot range into a pile that ultimately must be hoisted by hand into a green bin. For that they and we endure 20-30 minutes of needless pollution.
We employ a lawn service that uses electric equipment with considerably less noise (55 dBa) and no toxic output into the air. Our service will even rake leaves by hand.
What is the answer? Neighbors may want to choose an electric mowing service over gas-powered. One can ask the existing service switch to electric. Neighbors may purchase manual or electric equipment and enjoy the old-fashioned pleasure of working in your yard on a weekend afternoon.
There is nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass when not filled with carbon intensive gasoline. Or one can choose to rake leaves; the exercise is freeing and often leaf amounts do not warrant motorized equipment to tidy up a yard.
We are interested in hearing from others who seek a remedy for the motorized noise in violation of city ordinance. We seek solutions that reduce carbon fuels contributing to climate change. Please feel free to email us with your ideas: Kathy.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
By Kathy Les and Hal Thomas