This letter is adapted from a longer letter sent to the Scarsdale mayor and trustees and is reprinted at the writer’s request.
Dear Mayor Samwick and Trustees,
As a resident of Scarsdale for more than three decades, who works from home in Fox Meadow and who also frequently walks through many of Scarsdale’s other neighborhoods, I can attest to the hugely negative impact of gas-powered leaf blowers. The ear-splitting noise and toxic fumes are detrimental to everyone’s health.
I strongly urge the board of trustees to adopt Option 1 set forth in the December 2020 Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) report, “Mitigating the Health, Environment, and Quality of Life Impacts of Gas Leaf Blowers.”
The CAC’s findings that “[g]as leaf blowers pollute the air, negatively impact landscapers’ health, and have excessive noise levels that negatively impact the quality of life for residents …” cannot be disputed. The only open issue is what to do about this detrimental, man-made, and avoidable situation. Do we sacrifice our well-being for the convenience of the landscaping industry, or do we require the landscaping industry to take steps to protect their customers, their own workers, and the well-being of the surrounding neighbors?
As an initial step, the village board should adopt Option 1 of the CAC’s proposals: gas-powered leaf blowers could be used Tuesday through Friday, from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 — the main leaf season. Electric leaf blowers, which are nonpolluting and quieter, could be used at any time of the day throughout the year.
There is a perception that gas-powered leaf blowers are necessary to maintain residents’ yards, particularly those with large properties, and that electric leaf blowers lack the power and the battery capacity to allow professional landscapers to do the job adequately. This would be the case if landscapers try to clear all of the leaves by blowing them to curbside (where they create hazardous conditions for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists). However, if landscapers adopt in-place leaf mulch-mowing, only a small amount of leaves would remain for disposal; this could be handled with the existing technology in electric leaf blowers. This change in practice could be accommodated with little additional expense or effort, according to a professional landscaper who testified at the hearing that resulted in the village of Larchmont banning gas-powered leaf blowers altogether starting in January 2022, one year from now (the May 18, 2020 hearing can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d33zVCWoy4M&feature=youtu.be, with the landscaper’s comments at 30.00).
As a general matter, professional landscapers appear to be resistant to change. However, we can promote the upkeep of residents’ properties while we also protect and enhance the quality of life for our residents. These are not mutually exclusive outcomes. Please “follow the science” and mitigate the damage caused by gas-powered leaf blowers.
I urge the board to adopt Option 1 in the December 2020 CAC report as soon as possible. In addition, the board should revisit this issue in the near future, with the goal of adopting a complete ban on the use of gas-powered blowers by January 2022, as our neighbors in Larchmont have done.