Editor’s note: As a follow up to last month’s letter about gas-powered leaf blowers, an important section on noise pollution was omitted. Here is the continuation
Thank you for publishing my letter concerning the terrible environmental impact of gas-powered leaf blowers in your October issue. This letter addresses their noise.
The number of professional ground maintenance workers has grown nationally to 1.6 million. As the number of blowers in operation has grown proportionately, noise worsens.
Leaf blowers are the most overly and inappropriately used landscaping tool, having become an unfortunate facet of “routine lawn care” and a favorite “clean-up tool” for construction workers.
The body reacts to obnoxious sound with increased adrenaline, changes in heart rate, and elevated blood pressure. This can in turn cause cardiovascular problems, depressed immunity, interrupted sleep, gastrointestinal distress and impairments to childrens’ health, learning and emotional states.
In 2017, the CDC listed leaf blowers as a contributor to permanent hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, there is increasing risk of hearing damage from noise above 75 decibels, and blowers can exceed 100 decibels for the operator and for those in proximity.
The decibel scale is logarithmic. Each increase of 10 decibels represents noise that is 10 times louder.
In 2001, Portland’s City Council adopted code language to limit the use of gas-blower decibels to 65. This is 10 times louder than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of outdoor noise levels of 55 decibels (“to prevent significant community annoyance”).
It has been demonstrated that leaf blowers exceed their manufacturers’ supplied decibel ratings.
Portland decibel restrictions have resulted in a failed attempt at compromise. Our Noise Bureau has 4 employees who lack resources to effectively enforce the current ordinance. Even if implemented, its restrictions far exceed safety recommendations, and we should not have to tolerate pointless, soul-crushing noise as our city navigates unprecedented growth.
Our ears cannot shut, nor like our eyes, turn away.
To the Editor:
In response to the September 2018 issue of The Southeast Examiner’s article “ONI Changes Clarified,” Suk Rhee’s comments to me stated that she does not think Open Meetings rules should apply to neighborhood associations (NA). This was in reference to the Grievance I filed against the Richmond Neighborhood Association and Chair.
The discussion was about the Open Meeting rules the city enacted in 2005. The city adopted its own Open Meeting rules as part of ONI’s standards (now the Office of Civic and Community Involvement) because the state’s Open Meetings Law does not apply to NAs.
It’s never been the city’s job to “enforce” its Open Meetings rules at NAs, that is the purpose of the NA’s grievance process. This process allows NA members to enforce compliance with NA’s Bylaws or the original ONI Standards, particularly Open Meeting rules.
The city becomes involved only if there is an appeal of the decision of a district coalition, itself an appeal of the findings and resolution by the NA of the grievance complaint.
The grievance process is to force the NA to review whether its Bylaws or the ONI Standards were violated and craft a resolution that enforces the violated rules.
If Civic Life eliminates its Open Meeting rules, it would allow NAs to become secretive interest groups that can propose land use and transportation changes under the façade of “representing” the neighborhood.
We need to keep Open Meeting rules that are applicable to NAs – that is the only way to ensure transparency and accountability by NAs.