Hawaii lawmakers seek tough restrictions on leaf blowers

Published: Mar. 10, 2010 at 3:29 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2010 at 5:09 AM HST
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Kekoa Amantia
Kekoa Amantia
Erik Betwee
Erik Betwee
Sen. Mike Gabbard
Sen. Mike Gabbard

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Critics call it mind-blowing. Cranking up a gas powered leaf blower could cost you more than irked neighbors.

If Hawaii lawmakers get their way, those noisy engines will be banned, and even electric blowers will be subject to a curfew.

Supporters say it's a much-needed crackdown on noise pollution.

Critics say leaf blowers should be the least of the state's worries.

It's a rude awakening for those trying to catch some zzz's, one that lawmakers want to silence after receiving numerous complaints.

Senator Mike Gabbard is pushing to ban gas powered leaf blowers completely.

"That incessant noise, you've been working all week long, on the weekend you want to sleep in and all of a sudden your neighbor's blasting one of these things," he said.

But landscapers blast the move saying it blows.

"It's just going to make it harder for all the landscapers, you know," said Kekoa Amantia, a landscaper.

"In the long run it's going to cost the homeowner more money because we're going to have to spend more time at their property, maintaining it," said Erik Betwee, a landscaper.

Under the bill, you wouldn't be able to operate a leaf blower in a residential area, or within 100 feet of a residential zone.

There are exceptions.

On Monday through Saturday, electric leaf blowers would be allowed between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

And 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays and federal holidays.

"Time limit is good. Who's going to be blowing at 7:00 at night?" said Betwee.

Despite the compromise, while landscapers are busy sweating all day, they wonder what lawmakers are busy doing.

"There's a lot more things to worry about right now than a blower," said Betwee.

"Right now our focus is on solving the budget crisis, Friday furloughs, cuts to state agencies but there are really quality of life issues that we cannot ignore," said Sen. Gabbard.

The proposed leaf blower ban also comes with fines. Violators would pay between $50 to $500.

Gabbard has two bills calling for a ban on leaf blowers - SB 2356 and SB 466.

On Tuesday, the House Energy Committee deferred SB 2356, putting the bill in legislative limbo.

As for SB 466, it passed the House and crossed over to the Senate, but the Senate disagreed on the bill's amendments.

Starting in April, the Senate and House chairs will meet in Conference Committee to negotiate a compromise.

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