Planet Princeton

Quiet Princeton: Say no to leaf blowers

Does your neighborhood reverberate with the loud noise of leaf blowers? Would you like to do something to quiet them down?

Visit the new website from Quiet Princeton. It describes a win-win approach for landscaping without leaf blowers and for asking neighbors to do the same, and it tells you how to contact Quiet Princeton. Just go to: Quietprinceton.org.

Phyllis Teitelbaum

Community Contributor

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  • BL

    Sorry, not everyone has as much free time as you do. Perhaps, you should go over and offer to help your neighbors rake to alleviate the noise?

  • Shhhh

    John, the remarks were meant to be “tongue in cheek”, not serious; but thank you for taking the time to reply.

  • John

    C.A.E.- I do not think that “elitism” is at all behind this. I have lived in many cities and states in the US and this issue is not particular to Princeton, University towns, or any other constant I have encountered – except one: people that live in close proximity.

    Also, your comment is based on the very subjective notion of “a little noise” and “once in a while”. My neighborhood has commercial leaf blowers running from early in the day to well into the evening, 7 days a week in the fall and summer. The volume is loud enough that if you are outside you cannot carry on a conversation and if you are inside, you will have to adjust your TV volume, phone volume, etc. This is not “..a little noise once in a while.”

  • John

    Shhhhh: Comparing gas powered commercial-use machines that do, in fact, run at > 90 decibels to “laughing… on the playground” is a false equivalency. Also, to use your logic of saying that a ban such as this will progress to restrictions on laughter, lawn mowers and dogs is no more logical than saying that without the ban, it’s only a matter of time before we allow people to place a wall of amplifiers on their lawn screaming out noise at 125 decibels 24/7. Neither of these are reasonable.
    Instead, Pat’s point is that in these tight neighborhoods of Princeton, the noise that is made by allowing these tools to run from early morning to well into the evening 7 days-a-week, is intrusive to all the houses in the area. And, if you choose to take a quieter, greener, approach to clearing leaves and sidewalks, you presently have no way to avoid the noise other than leaving your house, buying noise-cancelling headphones, etc.
    The valid comparison (rather than laughter on a playground or speakers on a lawn), is cigarette smoke. It used to be that non-smokers had no way to avoid the displeasure caused by someone else’s smoking habit. The only options were to suffer through it, leave, or (perhaps like your headphone suggestion) wear a gas-mask.

  • John

    Cecie: Pat’s proposal in no way would be “..ruining the livelihoods of hundreds of hardworking landscapers…”. In fact, as described elsewhere on this board, raking takes more time and/or people to gather the leaves than it does to use a blower. If your primary concern is to have a need for landscapers, you should support banning the blowers. Then all the DIY’ers will put away their own blowers and rather than get out a rake, they’ll hire landscapers!

  • Robert Dana

    Umm. Because ice and snow is a potential hazard to life and limb; and the town, contractors and residents need to get a head start on the morning rush hour? Leaves, on the other hand, don’t present a risk; except for people with a strange obsession to remove them ASAP.

  • Cecie

    Hey, Ayn Rand: you disapprove of community cooperation, environmental awareness, and neighborly concern? Sounds like you’d rather be ruled than governed.

  • SHHHHH

    Tearing down a free market system is a wonderful way to support your local democracy

  • Pat Palmer

    I too agree with set hours. We had that, and council rescinded it almost immediately after consolidation! The proposal above is to ban only leaf blowers, generally the loudest (though not always) and longest used of lawn care machinery. Also the least necessary except, possibly, for a month in autumn. So they could be banned, just for example, except in autumn. THAT would help. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing.

  • Pat Palmer

    That is a very creative idea.

  • Pat Palmer

    Hi Henry. I understand what you are saying. I HAVE used a leaf blower, and I have also raked. How we handle the “many piles” is a plastic wheel barrow and those little rake hands for pickup. Our yard people want to use their leaf blower even in summer, mainly to blow cut grass off of sidewalks and driveways. A broom can do this, or else, as we do when I move, always aim the momer so it doesn’t throw grass there to start with. I’ve watched the workers a lot recently. It *may* be a little bit faster, but I’m not convinced that it is any better for their bodies. Many do not even wear hearing protection. Also, if it’s about money, many of us might be willing to pay more for quiet–but our lawn service will not even agree. Hence, I’m asking them NOT to use leaf blowers and to leave the leaves in fall for us to handle. We mulch them all onsite anyway.

    Now–I completely understand that people in suburbs have much larger lawns, so maybe different noise rules should apply for densely populated town areas than for suburbs. I’m open to all these ideas.

    Finally, leaf blowers themselves can be muffled. So can lawn mowers. The makers of these devices like to keep them loud because buyers think loud means more power. This is a cultural matter and we could also put our efforts there–asking the machinery that is used to be a certain amount quieter than it now is. The need to quieten our neighborhoods could go on in many different ways, including declaring, for example, quiet times.

  • Henry Bryant

    Except a rake is much slower and takes more effort to use than the leaf blower. In addition, it’s a lot easier to collect leaves into one place using a leaf blower than it is using a rake (making 10s of piles and then moving the piles separately). And before anyone attacks this saying that the two are equally arduous to use due to the weight of the leaf blower, please consider whether you’ve used the commercial blowers, and whether you’ve ever raked multiple yards.

  • Henry Bryant

    And I see you attacking a person based off something other than their argument. Keep going. Let’s see how immature we can get.

  • Cecie

    Perhaps, in the older sections of town, neighbors could form associations to hire just one landscaping firm, and let everyone know the day and time established for leaf-blowing. The constant noise you detest comes largely from duplicated and overlapping efforts. A good project for Quiet Princeton to organize!

  • Pat Palmer

    Do you live in a crowded neighborhood, and are you home all day? In my experience, people who make comments like this go off all day, or else, live in houses that are well spaced out. Quiet Princeton is especially important in the former borough where houses are very near. And somebody can be running a leaf blower within a hundred yards of our house pretty much 8 hours per day.

  • Pat Palmer

    Hispanic immigrants can use a rake like the rest of us. No infrastructure is going to collapse, the use of hyperbole aside.

  • Pat Palmer

    I see you calling your neighbors absurd and arrogant from within the safety of an anonymous user name. Very nice.

  • Pat Palmer

    Note also that one of the first things our consolidated council did was remove a regulation that protected those of us in the borough from snow blowers at 3 am. Why would it hurt a nearby business to wait until, say, 5 am to use a snow blower? Thank you (NOT) council.

  • Pat Palmer

    It’s easy to tolerate leaf blowers out in suburbia where houses are spread out. Not so easy here in town, where houses are 15′ apart. I work from home, and there are weekdays where the leaf blowers howl for 8 hours straight. I can hear it through my double-pane windows as if I were out there myself. Any yard in my neighborhood is within close hearing range of dozens of other households. I am strongly in support of noise laws to limit leaf blowers. There are these things called rakes, that I used my entire life, that do the same thing in the same amount of time, on a small yard such as we have here, with no noise at all.

  • QuietPrinceton

    what I find funny about the article and the website is that council member Jenny Crumiller is helping them. I find the town of Princeton to be very unquiet and non-substainable in how they do their business. The pick up of leaves and branches is done with heavy duty equipment that beeps loudly, mars the street and curb, and vandalizes people’s lawns when picking up the debris. For most of the yard waste, a person could pick up the branches and leaves (as they used to do). It would be quicker (it’s amazing how many times the large equipment has to move back and forth to pick up a couple of branches), cheaper, and quieter.

    I think having set hours when noisy equipment is permitted is a good idea, but banning them? That’s over the top.

  • Shhhh

    Is this a serious article? What’s next….a ban on gas powered lawn mowers? No horns on cars? No yelling or laughing too loud on the playground? Oh dear, make sure Fido doesn’t bark more than once at the mail carrier. Teach him to politely clear his throat instead so we don’t offend delicate ears. This is, as another poster said, “absurd” and I will go so far as to say “arrogant” on the part of the self-appointed Noise Police.
    I can understand the need for quiet around hospitals etc., and most if not all towns have noise ordinances and hours of acceptable operation for contractors. Anyone offended by these sounds might consider investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Personally, I’m more offended by those who think they are in a position to dictate to others. There are many much more worthy causes toward which you could be channeling your attention.

  • Cecie

    I’d be more worried about ruining the livelihoods of hundreds of hardworking landscapers, many of them Hispanic immigrants; without Spanish-speaking labor, Princeton’s infrastructure, civic and domestic, would collapse in a week.

  • Concerned About Elitism

    With all due respect, this is frankly absurd. There’s nothing special about us Princeton residents that renders us incapable of hearing a little noise once in a while.

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