Neighbors seek cleaner, quieter yard-care tools

Are you sick and tired of the whining noise of gas-powered leaf blowers?

Not only do they emit noxious contaminants in clouds of dust, evidence suggests that their loud noise contributes to serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, low birth weight and physical, cognitive and emotional issues that arise from being too distracted to focus on complex tasks and from never getting enough sleep, according to a report last month in The New Yorker magazine.

Concerned about these problems, dozens of neighbors gathered May 18 in Curtis Park to consider greener alternatives such as electrical lawn equipment and simple rakes and brooms.

The event was sponsored by the SCNA Neighborhood Concerns Committee in coordination with “Clean and Quiet Yardcare,” an ad hoc group organized by Kathy Les and Hal Thomas of Portola Way with the help of a dozen motivated neighbors.

Kevin Jillson from Stihl products provided equipment and demonstrations on their uses.

SMUD board member Greg Fischman came to learn more about cordless electric equipment. Fischman said he uses all-electric equipment now because “you don’t have to buy and store gas, the equipment always starts, there is no maintenance, and it’s much quieter and non-polluting.”

According to SMUD board member Heidi Sanborn, “The Sacramento region has the fifth worst air quality in California.” Sanborn moved out of Midtown to Carmichael after she got fed up with the noise of cars and blowers in the central city. “Getting us off gas engines is a super-high priority because they’re so very polluting of the environment.”

Claudia Anderson, who lives next to the park, said she is motivated by the contribution blowers make to global climate change. “We all need to take steps at a community level to make an impact,” she said. But she sees a big problem in going green in Curtis Park: “The only electric gardener available, Fresh Air Yard Care, is maxed out and not taking new clients.”

Kim Alexander of Fifth Avenue will take the issue of dangerous air and noise pollution to the May 29 Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change, which is a joint initiative of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.

“We need to put these air and noise pollution reduction efforts into our neighborhood strategic plans,” Alexander said. “Then these plans need to become part of the city’s and county’s general plan.”

Rick Zacaroli has gone electric for three years. He said his Markham Way neighbors now suffer from “green envy.” Zacaroli said his wife, Lori, appreciates “not having to smell all that gas.”

SCNA board member and arborist Dan Pskowski notes that not only the neighborhood but also professional landscapers benefit from the conversion to electric equipment. “If you’re a landscaper in your 50s, you have shoulder rotator cuff problems due to the constant pull-starting of the gas-powered equipment,” Pskowski said.

Visitors were impressed by the electric equipment’s light weight.

For resources to replace gas-powered yard equipment with electric equipment:



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