Poll: Ban Gas Powered Leaf Blowers? Other Noise Regulations?

August 30, 2023

During last week’s RSF Association strategic planning meeting, I once again asked fellow Board members whether we should ask Association staff to research what could go into a noise regulation. And once again, I got significant push back and little support.

The irony of this situation is not lost on me. For years I’ve been whining in these pages about how various Boards have been regulation happy, restricting our ability to use Hardy Board (now repealed), or tasteful landscape lighting (we’re currently in a truce). So when I come along and propose just researching a possible noise regulation, I should be happy that this current Board is ideologically adverse to any new regulations (as some Board members baldly stated during the meeting).

And I am happy. I truly am. But I still have this nagging feeling that some sort of noise regulation would be appreciated by the majority of members.

So, since none of us really knows the sentiments of thousands of members, let’s do a poll and see what you think.

Ban Gasoline Powered Leaf Blowers?

The first question is pretty simple. Should we outright ban gasoline powered leaf blowers, restricting leaf blowers to battery powered ones?

Various cities around us have instituted such a ban. Pasadena is only the latest city to do soEncinitas did so way back in 2020Del Mar actually bans all leaf blowers, gas or battery powered. Finally, the state of California will ban the sale (but not the use, yet) of gas powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and other small engines starting in January 2024.

And yet, here we are in a supposedly high end residential community and we still allow noisy, neighbor annoying, environmentally hazardous leaf blowers to run at any hour of day or night, seven days a week.

I personally switched my yard maintenance crew over to battery powered ones and I now never hear the loud blare anymore, even after “hurricane” cleanups. Manufacturers now make very strong backpack ones (which are still much more silent) with batteries that last a very long time. Yes, they cost more initially, but actually cost way less in operating costs and maintenance, not to mention the convenience and safety of not having to schlep gasoline everywhere. By the way, I also switched over to battery powered lawn mowers, and that too has been an acoustic blessing.

Such a ban could have a three month (or whatever) transition time to allow people to switch over. Anyways, that’s the first question, what do you think, give your answer below.

Other Noise Ordinance

Imagine trying to enjoy a peaceful Sunday and your neighbor hires a tile cutter to cut tile in their yard. That actually happened to an Association member recently and there was nothing the Patrol could do about it. It isn’t even against County noise regulations according to the Patrol officer contacted that day.

And I’m sure we’ve all been inundated at various times on weekends by the loud blaring of a wood chipper, and chainsaws too for that matter.

I don’t know what kind of weekend noise regulation makes sense for us, but I’m pretty sure something rather than nothing makes sense.

So, that’s the second question. Should Association staff research and make recommendations on what kind of general noise ordinance would be appropriate for the RSFA?

I’ve also included an anonymous comment section below since the comments tend to be very interesting reading. Re-visit this page often to see results/new comments.

Oh, and if the response to this poll is lukewarm, I promise I shall never speak of it again…

This poll is no longer accepting votes

Should the Association ban gas powered leaf blowers?
  • Yes
  • No
Should the Board ask staff to make a recommendation on a general noise regulation?
  • Yes
  • No
Optional Comments
  • Enter comments below
  • I believe that over a period of time that allows people price to adjust we should outlaw any gas powered landscaping tools that have a equivalent and acceptable electric version. I wouldn’t even be opposed to some sort of community fund for HOA members that this presented a hardship for. I am aware that there are members of our HOA, who this would potentially present an economic hardship to who maintain their own properties. As far as the noise regulation, I’m all for that as the home across the canyon from me has dozens of parties yearly from early afternoon until past the county regulated quiet our time of 10 PM. My neighbors and I routinely call the police on them when they go past 10 PM. They play loud music with profanity in it as well as shouting profanity during these parties, and it is a nuisance and not appropriate for the neighborhood. I’m sure we could come up with something that doesn’t stifle people’s fun while at the same time preserves the rights of neighbors to enjoy the quiet that they moved to the neighborhood for.
  • Not to put it in a way that protects the “Sabbath” – but having a 24 hour quiet period on Sundays would be amazing. How many communities can advertise that day of quiet. I don’t care if it’s Saturday or Sunday… but I respect most of our homeowners and landscape teams would prefer to have Saturday’s as an option.
  • Banning necessary blowers is an inane idea. Ban unnecessary Ferraris on Linea Del Cielo instead. Or stop breathing CO and let me enjoy life.
  • Banning loud music at the inn would be fantastic. Does everyone have the same wedding playlist?
  • A gas blower pollutes as much in 60 minutes as a Ford F150 Raptor pickup does….driving from Texas to Alaska.
  • No noisy garden work incl. the golf course should be allowed on Sundays
  • Stop regulating every single thing. It’s exhausting. Just relax and stop trying to ban every little thing to appease people’s inability to deal with trivial issues.
  • We need to start thinking about the Gardners and the company’s that work on our properties Making them buy new equipment is ridiculous. Not to mention the noise different. Isn’t that much. At least the gas powered ones get the job done quicker which means less time of hearing the noise. If our worst complaint is that we have to hear a little bit of noise a few times a day to make somebody else’s job simpler and more cost efficient that I think we should just leave it alone. Everybody loves to complain nowadays. How has it been OK to deal with us for the last 50 years but all of a sudden we need them to switch to battery operated ones that are in efficient and take a longer job.
  • Gas powered leaf blowers are a horrible intrusion on the peace in our community. Electric alternatives should be mandated both for noise and pollution abatement for the good of both residents and workers . Nancy Newman
  • Noise reduction would be a great service for the community.
  • Thanks for continuing to bring up. Following actions of Del Mar, encinitas makes sense. Our hearing, the children, vendors should be first foremost. So many reasons for the good of these communities. Being out in the ranch allows quieter times, consideration for our wide life. Let’s offer whiter solutions
  • Ban the blowers all together! Everyday one of my neighbors has at least 2-3 gardeners using the loud blowers! I can’t enjoy my backyard with all this noise
  • Unless you all want to pay 20%-30% more per month for landscaping, I suggest you chill out. ?
  • A Friday mow and blow is absolutely necessary to get the weekend started. I personally prefer the smell of a 2-stroke blower. The 4-stroke blowers are great, but I prefer my leaves moving across my driveway at 90 to 100 mph. I’d hate to see all these wonderful hard working people get a GIANT electrical bill because they need to charge 50 different tools every night. They can’t plug in at my house because somehow it’s legal to charge me more per kilowatt hour because of my income. I don’t remember submitting a tax return to SDGE for verification, so I still need to get to the bottom of that one. Anyway I’m rambling…but I will mention, it’s very hard to hear the leaf blowers over all the WOOD CHIPPERS!
  • enough regulations — lighting, fencing, etc. instead of more regulations ask why isn’t we have a welcome committee? what can rsf do to be a more helpful community, especially for new residents.
  • This makes total sense, hope you can pursue it!!
  • I would like at least a weekend ban on any loud work being done. BARKING DOGS is my biggest issue. Here there for a few minutes no problem, I get it their dogs they bark, but constantly for hours with the owner making zero effort to stop barking is not being considerate to neighbors.
  • Please keep the board focus on important items regarding expenses, water rates, golf course expenses, empty office fronts downtown, no grocery store downtown, dead Palm trees. The list could go on and on. Leaf blowers are just an excuse to not tackle real issues.
  • I would like to see some clear rules about excessive, loud noise from any source. I think this type of noise (leaf blowers, tree chippers, construction noise, etc..) should only be allowed during weekdays, 8am to 5pm.
  • My wife and I find it hard to believe there is more concern about light pollution than there in for noise pollution and air pollution. One of our neighbor’s groundskeeper uses a gas blower for several hours per day sometimes 2-3 times per week. It can be any day of the week and as early as 7:30AM. When he is closest to our property, the noise is loud enough to hamper a normal conversation. We shut our windows and can still hear it. At least one of our other common neighbors finds it very annoying. We have each asked the property owner to be more considerate, that did not stick for more than a few weeks. We need regulations to keep the peace in our community!
  • Please please please ban those machines at least for use inside around the village. We got to deal with the noise every day of the week and it’s been a huge problem for some of us that work from home. Thank you very much Antonio Sacido 6026 La Granada PS all my neighbors around us are in favor too, can I help somehow?
  • Loud motorcycle and car noise. Perhaps a decibel meter sign on major roads just to let people know how loud they are.
  • How about banning roosters? We don’t have one near us but if we did we’d want to shoot it if it was making noise well before dawn
  • Gas leaf blowers are very annoying and frequent in our neighborhood. We moved here for a quiet & peaceful existence.
  • This is an incredibly noisy neighborhood. The cost of all this beauty is the sound of yard maintenance, construction and destruction. Don’t forget the huge amount of road noise from all the cars that pass through to get somewhere else, and having to drive each child to and from school, and having to pick up the mail, and fast cars racing past just having fun! But does this really need to be? How about we reduce the noise we can and limit the times. We are smart people, I’m sure something can be done to make the acoustic landscape as appealing as the visual.
  • Enough of the police state already. Toughen up,
  • Also, ask CHP to occasionally enforce California regulations (I believe it’s 95 decibels) for cars and motorcycles. I believe these levels are regularly exceeded on car show Saturday’s, and by in particular by motorcycles. It’s not their engines, it’s how they’re driven.
  • The banning of blowers affects people who cannot afford to purchase newer energy efficient ones.
  • The golf course is especially egregious in the jet engine blowing that is routinely done before 7:00 am every day.
  • Leaf blowers are very bad for air quality as well as noise.
  • Please stop trying to come up with more rules and regulations for every little thing. I agree gas powered leaf blowers should be banned at some point but it’s just out of control how many regulations this association puts forth.
  • We moved from Newport Beach, noise ordinances galore, even the airport was regulated. I like noise ordinances because I feel that I can still have my freedom to do what I want, but at a controlled time of day that suits all of the community.
  • What would the cost be to a gardener to change to a battery-operated unit??
  • Too many restrictions and rules are NOT good for a community. If anything just give them guidelines (which wont be followed) 8-6pm Mon-Fri NONE ON WEEKENDS
  • I agree with your sentiments that reasonable regulations are overdue. I would vote for no leaf blowers completely. Thanks.
  • Thanks so much for bringing this matter up. I am sick and tired of hearing these loud gas blowers interrupting our wonderful covenant lives. Please ban. Thank you
  • The RSFA regularly oversteps appropriate boundaries currently. We do not need further regulation.
  • Another benefit is reducing the pollution these small engines produce. So we reduce the noise and the pollution.
  • Absolutely Gas-powered leaf blowers should be banned from this area. Besides being louder than electric blowers, they are hazardous to our health and all those who operate them. Emissions from gas leaf blowers create high levels of formaldehyde, benzene, fine particulate matter and smog-forming chemicals, which are known to cause dizziness, headaches, asthma attacks, heart and lung disease, cancer and/or dementia.
  • I think backyard Pickleball courts are also excessively noisy. I do not believe anyone should have to be subjected to that intense noise.
  • YOU are OBVIOUSLY a Communist, who wants to take away our American traditions. I will be voting AGAINST you if you run again!!!!!!!!! FREEDOM !!!
  • It’s a free world, god bless the USA.
  • If the noise from a leaf blower bothers a homeowner then they can use a battery blower on their property. We are fortunate to live in a community with lots of land/space. No reason to force your neighbors to comply with your wishes. The staff only has so much bandwidth and there are too many other issues to deal with.
  • How can the association work to lower the noise from the out of members and attendees of the weekly car show?
  • This is perfectly logical to switch over to battery leaf blowers, and all garden power tools. You should give all homeowners and gardeners one year to do the switch over. Why not, less noise and less pollutions.
  • One of the most important reasons we moved from the Bridges to the RSF covenant was because of the incessant and overuse of gas powered landscaping equipment. If you could not see what was making the noise, you could smell the fumes. Now we live across from the golf course. We sleep with the windows open, and are awakened by course maintenance vehicles and gas powered landscaping equipment. If you cannot pass a gas powered restriction in the covenant, at least push for reasonable hours to permit the use of noisy equipment.
  • There should definitely be days (Sunday) where no noise from construction or maintenance should be allowed. Also, it would be prudent to have a time of day 7am- 6pm to limit noise from construction and maintenance as well. Gas powered blowers will be outlawed in CA eventually anyway.
  • Each house has plenty of land and noise isn’t an issue in the ranch!
  • This is the first developed area that I have lived in that allows any type of noise anyone wants to make on the weekends. I HATE NOISE! I VOTE FOR PEACEFUL WEEKENDS!!! PLEASE!!!!!
  • I’m all for respecting each other and maintaining a quiet environment, but this would be a huge overstep for the association to mandate.
  • There are higher priority regulations that the association should spend its limited time enforcing. We don’t need another regulation to haphazardly enforce, that will take time away from enforcing more important regulations.
  • I have already banned them at my house. Please do ban them in RSF
  • Regarding Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers: Our gardener owns the gas-powered leaf-blower he uses on our property. To transition him to a battery-powered blower, we would have to purchase one for him to use while servicing our property and trust him not to trash it or disappear with it or with the batteries/charger we would also need to provide for it. Our current gardener has good common sense. He’s trustworthy & reliable. We may opt to buy a battery-powered blower for his use. We don’t like the noise made by gas-powered leaf blowers, and we’re usually here when he’s blowing. But we have had other gardeners that we would not have wanted to provide expensive gardening tools for. Most gardeners are comfortable using gas leaf blowers. They typically own their own blowers & cannot afford to buy new battery-powered replacements (or the supply of batteries that they would need to purchase to get them through a whole workday of blowing without having to recharge batteries). Gas-powered leaf blowers will eventually be replaced by battery powered ones, as the advantages of the battery-powered blowers become clearer over time, as batteries themselves and the oomph (‘horsepower’) of the machines they power continues to improve over time, and as gardeners get acquainted with them. I think time & patience will gradually fix this noise problem. I favor a transition to battery-powered leaf blowers. I don’t favor an ordinance to force the transition. Not yet. Regarding Other Noise: Had you used as your example the playing of loud music while entertaining friends by the hillside-overlook pool or the raucous evening parties that sometimes drag into the wee hours of the night, you might have won my sympathy for instituting some sort of “noise ordinance”. But because you specifically mention examples of noises associated with work getting done, most likely during daylight hours: contractors trying to meet construction deadlines by working weekends; day laborers trying to make ends meet by taking on extra work over the weekends (BTW – cutting tile needs to be done where there is good ventilation … i.e. outdoors); chainsaws and wood-chippers being used to … well … get landscape work done; you lose my sympathy. In fact the specific mention of “weekend” noise suggests that you are implying that noise-producing, work-related activities should only occur during the work week, Monday through Friday. This, of course, presupposes that the individuals generating this noise don’t already have a work week job, one which would leave them with only their weekends to do work around their own homes … themselves. You are, in effect, picking on the handyman resident who actually enjoys doing his own gardening or cutting his own wood or the handywoman resident who enjoys woodworking as a hobby. Now I know that there are plenty of well-heeled RSF residents who would be loathe to cut their own wood, use a chain saw, or power tool of any sort, or to do any sort of menial, manual labor … ever. (This type of resident seems to be increasing in the Ranch in direct proportion to the numbers of super over-sized and over-lit McMansions being built in recent years.) These residents likely favor spending their leisure time on recreational activities or have ‘hobbies’ of the sedentary sort. But RSF was hatched with the idea of being a rural and agrarian community of ‘gentleman farmers’ on widely-spaced parcels of land largely dedicated to natural or cultivated (planted) landscapes. It is part and parcel of this ‘rural aesthetic’ legacy that work might continue to happen during weekends, and that, sometimes, residents themselves might actually be doing the work. (Oh horrors! Mon Dieu!) Had RSF been hatched as a hoity-toity country club for the urban elite, you would be in a stronger position from which to lobby for a noise ordinance that would ban blue-collarish, noise-making, work-related noises during weekends when, of course, all self-respecting aristocrats should be sipping champagne by their chi-chi swimming pools … oh yes … listening to loud popular music that betrays unrefined musical tastes. It does seem we’re headed in that direction. I’m delighted that you’ve found little support for this type of noise ordinance. It gives me hope for The Ranch. I suggest you bring this topic up again in another ten years. Meanwhile, Humbug!! I, for one, am much more tolerant of noise associated with productive activities than of noise generated by leisure activities and entertainment. And, because I haven’t said enough yet (!:), if people would stop pushing to build ever larger houses (and glass houses at that!), that encroach on their neighbors’ “personal space” to the maximum allowable extent, and pushing their homes further and further out onto hillside promontories so that they can capture the maximum views, at the expense of their neighbors’ now compromised views (so much for courtesy), the spacing between homes that creates the sound buffer needed for residents to make some noise during daytime hours without unduly impacting their neighbors’ eardrums would lessen this issue. As it is, residents with urbanized sensibilities, and those ever-enlarging homes, demand that their neighbors, now uncomfortably close, remain silent on weekends and forego their barn building and other, noise-making but productive, DIY hobbies. I do not favor a noise ordinance that restricts work-related (productive) activities on weekends. Not in Rancho Santa Fe. Suggest to complaining RSF residents that they forego the massive houses and move back to the city where “noise ordinances” prohibiting even daytime noise on weekends rule the (densely populated, over-developed) land. Weekends are the best times to cut wood, if you enjoy cutting your own wood and moved to a “rural” community so that you could own some undeveloped land and where cutting wood, and other tasks normally associated with rural life, would not be prohibited on weekends by individuals with urban sensibilities who moved here solely to build bigger and bigger houses. QED;)
  • Pickle ball played at residence’s homes is a growing source of backyard noise and neighbor aggravation. Pickle ball play should be limited to centralized facilities such as the Tennis Club.
  • When we lived in Santaluz there was a NO WORK ordinance on Sunday and holidays. It was nice because you could be enjoying your yard and did not have to worry about landscaping or other construction noise on those days. I don’t think a gas powered leaf blower ban is necessary. With the size of the properties in the neighborhood I don’t think this is a necessary restriction. Thanks!
  • No more excessive regulations.
  • We previously owned a home in Pt. Hamiltair at Lake Arrowhead. No construction or motor driven equipment was allowed on the weekends nor outside of normal working hours during the week. Emergencies excepted. It worked great and contributed to a quiet and restful environment. Imagine no leaf blowers, wood chippers or chainsaws on the weekends. Blissful.
  • No more regulation!
  • A weekend restriction on noise (such as cutting tile) impacts those members (myself included) who have a full time M-F job and choose (or have lack of funding) to do work themselves. If construction noise were restricted on weekends, when would someone such as myself be allowed to do anything with a power tool?
  • The pollution and noise coming from those blowers has a very negative effect on the quality of life in RSF. Golf courses are an environmental disaster on many levels and this is one of them that should be stopped. There might be 2 leaves on the course and these guys blow for 30 minutes
  • Optional Comments

147 votes


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