Council eyes ban on leaf blowers

A proposed leaf blower ban, the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center, an annual report on the efforts of the Tourism Improvement District and a minor increase in garbage collection rates inside city limits are the major agenda items for the Sonoma City Council’s Labor Day-delayed meeting on Wednesday.

The leaf-blower ban has been proposed by a contingent of local citizens, led by author and screenwriter Darryl Ponicsan, who has appeared regularly at City Council meetings for the last eight months to protest what he has termed the “raucous, nerve-wracking” noise.

Ponicsan has circulated a petition with close to 300 signatures calling for a ban on gas blowers says his east side Sonoma home is abutted by five properties and that, “It’s not uncommon to have two leaf blowers going at one time. I’ve been driven out of my house,” he added, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “and when I am driven out of my house, I go to one of those tasting rooms on the Plaza and I drink.So you could say, It’s driving me to drink.”

Ponicsan also complains that leaf blower restrictions adopted in 2011 that lowered allowable decibel levels and limited times of operation, are rarely – if ever – enforced.

Recently, said Ponicsan, he was returning from the Friday morning farmers market near Depot Park when he heard a leaf blower being used on the Field of Dreams. Ponicasn called police to complain about the noise and an officer, he said, took decibel readings, discovered the sound was excessive even at a distance of 100 feet, and ordered the operator to stop.

Whether the City Council will be willing to revisit the issue just two years since it was last addressed is unclear. The agenda item was placed by councilmembers Steve Barbose and David Cook with the purpose of testing council interest in reopening the question of a ban.

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