Monday, December 5, 2016

Leaf Blowing Not Allowed From Private Property Onto City Street

The Laurelhurst Blog has received comments about neighbors allowing their landscape crews to blow leaves into the street or into the neighboring yard:

I noticed two lawn maintenance workers across on the west side of 44th Avenue NE who were cleaning up leaves and then blowing them around. I watched as they then continued to blow them across the street onto the east side. I asked why and their reply was well it is already messy.  Please advise your lawn crew to pick up the leaves, not blow them to your neighbors yard.
A landscaping crew working on a house on our block always blows leaves from the neighbor's yard, sidewalk and street in front of their home right into other's yards and right into the sidewalk and street in front of other homes. Is this legal? Aren't they paid to clean up the area that they service rather than just  move it down the street and then drive off leaving a mess to clean up for other neighbors? 

We regularly watch the gardening crew servicing a neighbor's house down the street, use their leaf blower to blow all the leaves from that house to the street and sidewalk. Blowing leaves into the street is negligent as it clogs the drains and can cause flooding, as well as possibly running the risk of getting water in someone’s basement.  Additionally, the City is not always readily available to clean the drain. Crews that are dispatched to clear the streets also can be hampered by added debris in the street. It is also disrespectful and lazy as the crew assumes the neighbors will clean up the large amount of leaves and other debris left by the gardening crew.  
Can you post in the Blog about landscaping crews that use very loud leaf blowers, and don't even turn them off when pedestrians walk by? Isn't there an accepted and approved noise level in Seattle? And why do they get to blow the leaves into the street and into neighbors yards without any care for others? Maybe because they don't live in this neighborhood.  We, neighbors, are left to clean up double the amount of leaves on our properties and in the street. The best and most neighborly thing to do is for the landscaping crew to pick up the leaves at the home they are servicing and take the leaves or put them into the homeowner’s yard waste bin or make a compost pile.  
Leaf blowers are very loud and thus annoying to neighbors and those that walk or drive by.  Excessive sound levels are not only objectionable, but they can also be a public health hazard.  Leaf blower operators wear hearing protection for a reason, because sustained exposure to more than 85 dBA at close proximity damages hearing. They should take into consideration that when children and others walk by, the blowers should immediately be turned off.  
We have seen pedestrians and even a landscape crew dump yard waste and other matter into our containers and those of our neighbors. Is this legal? We don't believe it is. Sometimes we watch them just blow the leaves onto someone else's property, into the street in front of another home, or just blow them down the sidewalk.

City Municipal Code SMC 15.46.030 states:

Deposits in street or gutter

It is unlawful to wash or sweep or otherwise deposit any matter in any street or gutter

Seattle Municipal Code Section 21.36.440 states:
Unlawful use of solid waste container on private property 
It is unlawful for anyone not authorized by the property owner or
occupant to deposit any material in any solid waste container on
private property or on a sidewalk or a planting strip abutting private
Regarding permissible sound levels emitted by leaf blowers, Seattle Municipal Codes sections 25.08.410 and SMC 25.08.425, states that sound levels of up to 60-90 dBA at 50 feet from the source are permissible during regular working hours.  Sound levels that exceed 90 dBA can be subject to notices of violation, citation, and fines. Excessive noise can also be reported to the Seattle Police.

Here is the form a neighbor suggested to submit illegal dumping, including yard waste onto the street.

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