Shiny rakes and trusty brooms made their grudging appearance in lawns and gardens throughout Los Angeles on Tuesday, though some scofflaws fired up leafblowers despite a new citywide ban on the gas-powered machines.
As gardeners bemoaned a productivity slowdown on the first day the ban took effect, more than 500 of their compatriots swept into downtown to City Hall to demand a one-year moratorium on the new law for further study of its impact.
Noise-weary residents were more enthusiastic - even though homeowners are subject to the same stiff fines as gardeners if anyone uses a blower on their property.
“I hate (leaf-blowers),” said Lea Friedman, admitting that her gardener uses a blower, though she has urged him to swap it for a hose. “They make too much noise and they smell.”
Said Joel Busch: “It’s been loud. It’s a reminder of human insanity every time they do it.”
Not so fast. As Los Angeles joined 40 California cities to restrict the blowers because of noise and air pollution, city officials acknowledged Tuesday that they have no plan in place to enforce it.
The law prohibits use of the blowers within 500 feet of a residence, and imposes fines of up to $1,000 and jail terms of up to six months for both gardeners and homeowners who violate it.
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said written guidelines for enforcement and officer training regarding the ordinance - which was passed in December - are still being prepared.
According to a memo from the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst’s office, the main responsibility for enforcement belongs to the LAPD’s Noise Enforcement Unit, which has special decibel readers. But that unit has only four people in the field, which means patrol officers will have to juggle enforcement of the ban along with other responsibilities.
“We’ve got 9,000 officers’ ears all trained, 18,000 ears finely tuned to the offending sound,” quipped Officer Eduardo Funes of the LAPD press office. “Right now, I don’t hear (any), so I’m doing a very good job (of enforcement).”
The gardeners who protested at City Hall said they hoped the city would repeal the law before enforcement begins. Not to do so, they said, would compromise the quality of life in Los Angeles.
“If you want clean lawns, L.A. - if L.A. wants beautiful gardens - you have to accept minimal disturbance,” said Adrian Alvarez of the Association of Latin American Gardeners.
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