Meet Craig Hartley, Palo Alto’s first leaf-blower enforcement officer | News

Meet Craig Hartley, Palo Alto’s first leaf-blower enforcement officer | News

Leaf blowers are Craig Hartley’s complete-time work.

Considering that April, Hartley has been the metropolis of Palo Alto’s chief enforcement officer, when he took on the get the job done of administering Palo Alto’s ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.

Even though the ban has been in influence due to the fact 2005, enforcement has ebbed and flowed in excess of the a long time. Hartley had worked in code enforcement roles prior to, but leaf blowers had been new to him when he acknowledged his submit in Palo Alto. As he began the function, he speedily obtained to know all the pitfalls related with the gasoline-powered devices — and he now is effective to share what he’s learned with Palo Alto people, neighborhood associations and landscapers.

“In advance of I went to speak with the neighborhood associations, I did a very little bit of investigate on my individual, just to be able to current them a case for why they should not be working with gas leaf blowers,” Hartley recalled. “And it truly opened my eyes a little bit about how harmful they are — not just to the natural environment or the community, but to the operators by themselves.”

The sound of gas-powered leaf blowers can induce listening to harm, specifically for end users who never dress in the appropriate ear safety. Additionally, the two-stroke engines in numerous leaf blowers release poisonous exhaust fumes, so operators possibility inhaling carcinogens and dust particles as they do the job.

The ban on fuel-run leaf blowers was originally handed as aspect of Palo Alto’s noise ordinance, which was enforced by police, Hartley claimed. He is the initially individual employed by the town to be committed to the function, and it is really decidedly a full-time work.

“I will invest a excellent 6 or seven several hours a day just driving to various locations in which we have gotten complaints about leaf blowers,” he explained.

He would make his inspections close to the city, subsequent up on problems submitted to his office. As he drives close to, if he sees somebody applying a fuel-run device, he’ll stop and have a conversation with them.

“We have these cards that we hand out that have info about the ordinance and a QR code where by they can go,” Hartley defined.

He tells operators that, following a to start with offense, they need to have to have an electric blower.

The state recently applied a voucher program to enable offset the increased prices involved with electric leaf blowers. Hartley explained that landscapers can get a discounted of 70{64d42ef84185fe650eef13e078a399812999bbd8b8ee84343ab535e62a252847} off the price of the electric powered equipment.

“The state has experimented with to make it genuinely easy,” he stated. “The landscaper just pays the discounted rate, and then afterwards on the organization (that offered the blower) will get reimbursement from the state for the variance.”

New policies in Palo Alto now area the obligation for ordinance violations on house owners, alternatively than the landscapers themselves.

Hartley said that it truly is additional efficient to implement the code that way. The new policies have led to far more successful conversations with landscapers about the ban.

“There have been numerous occasions in which they see me and their confront variety of drops, like, ‘Oh no,'” Hartley mentioned, “but then when I converse with them, they are like, ‘OK, so I have a opportunity to repair it — I’m not likely to get a citation or a little something right away.'”

Now, Hartley’s business office sends letters to owners outlining the complaint and asking them to resolve it with their landscaper. The ban calls for some collaboration and compromise: spending landscapers additional to set in more time with rakes, for illustration.

Some residents have informed Hartley they observe a distinction in the amount of people today applying electric leaf blowers. And Hartley mentioned that these days when he drives about the metropolis he hears the gratifying hum of electric leaf blowers much more often than he applied to.

“That would make me truly feel like I am earning a variance,” he explained with a smile.

How to report a leaf blower violation

If you see or listen to someone using a fuel powered leaf blower, there are a few of strategies to report it. You can post a report applying the city’s Palo Alto 311 cell application with the working day of the 7 days and time of violation or phone Palo Alto Code Enforcement 650-329-2605. A lot more details is posted at