Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: We’re not expecting this to blow over

By From page A2 | November 03, 2013

I’m not sure if this is a sign of what’s to come, but I did receive a sharply worded email from former City Council candidate Daniel Watts the other day about an incredibly important issue in this town.

It made me wonder if this is Dan’s way of dipping his toe into the political waters to see if another council run is in his future.

I certainly hope so. New blood is almost always a good thing in local politics. And even though I’m not certain Daniel is old enough to vote, that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of holding elective office.

Just imagine, if Daniel runs and wins, and Dan Wolk happens to lose his race for the 4th Assembly District seat, we’ll have two Daniels on the same council. That would certainly be a first in this town’s history and perhaps a first in this country. Maybe even the world. Another feather in our many-feathered cap.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here with a daydream that might not ever happen.

Writes Daniel, “Though I’m reticent to criticize you …”

Let’s stop right there and make a little prediction. How many folks want to bet that the next word in Daniel’s email will be a great big “but”.

That’s certainly what I thought, but turns out I was wrong.

Daniel continues with “lest you tear apart my email in a future column …”

I wouldn’t dream of it, Daniel.

“Your most recent column inspired me to respond.”

I get an extra five bucks in the old paycheck every time I inspire someone, so this pleases me greatly.

“You said that because leaf blowers are used by people to do their jobs, they deserve our support, not our disdain.”

I did say that, and a lot more. The folks using leaf blowers to complete their daily task of keeping this town’s lawn debris in check are generally not at the top of the economic ladder, especially in Davis. They need to complete a number of jobs quickly in order to make ends meet. Leaf blowers help them do that.

“As you know,” Daniel continues, “part of my comprehensive City Council platform in 2010 recommended a ban on leaf blowers.”

Actually, it slipped my mind, so thanks for the reminder.

“No one is disparaging the people who use leaf blowers.”

Of course they aren’t. They just want to take away their livelihood. And please don’t tell me they can do the job just as quickly with a rake.

“The problem isn’t with the people, but the machines themselves. Just because someone uses a particular technology to do their job doesn’t mean the technology is benevolent.”

I’m not arguing benevolence. I’m arguing minor inconvenience to our everyday lives. Let’s say three people — or lawn services — on your street use a leaf blower once a week after the lawn is mowed. Probably 15 minutes max, per job.

Are you aware, Daniel, there are 10,080 minutes in a week? And you can’t give these hard-working lawn folks 15 of those — or 45 for the whole block – to do their dirty work?

“Technology has drawbacks; it affects people other than those who use it. Farmers used DDT to efficiently eradicate pests, but we banned it when we realized DDT’s externalities outweighed its benefits. Asbestos insulates like no other material, but I causes cancer, so it’s banned.”

You’re comparing apples with asbestos here, Daniel. Those leaf blowers are not loaded with DDT and they don’t kick up asbestos. No one’s getting cancer from exposure to leaf blowers.

“Leaf blowers create noise pollution and air pollution. They kick up dust, making sidewalks impassable for kids walking to school.”


I have many times passed folks using a leaf blower while walking the kids to or from school, and have never had our progress impeded. In fact, those wielding these noisy backpacks are invariably polite as they turn their machines away to allow us to pass.

Adds Daniel: “They wake up people who work the night shift and need to sleep at 7 a.m.”

Well, DWR’s “jaws” makes an awful lot of noise as it scrapes leaves off the pavement long before the sun rises, but like our friendly leaf blowers, it gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

Our city buses make noise. Trains makes noise and frequently block our roadways. Davis High School football games make noise. For crying out loud, the Aggie Band-uh makes noise.

Live and let live.

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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