From the D.C. Council Committee of the Whole Hearing on July 2, 2018. testimony from D.C. resident and musician Haskell "Hal" Small:
Mendelson: Mr. Small?
Small: Good afternoon. Thank you, Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers, for the opportunity today to speak in support of this bill. My name is Haskell Small. I am a fourth-generation Washingtonian, and I reside at 3220 44th Street, Northwest in Washington, DC.
As a composer and pianist who works at home, I find the horrendous noise of gas-powered leaf blowers to be not only an intrusion to my right to peace and quiet, but also an invasion of my space, making it sometimes impossible to work. And in attempting to calm my nerves with a pleasant walk, I am often bracketed by the pervasive, wailing scream of these blowers operated by sometimes squadrons of lawn maintenance workers.
There are, of course, many other hazards produced by gas-powered blowers, but the noise alone is reason enough to ban these machines. Besides being an intolerable disturbance to the peace, this noise is an assault on our ears, causing irreversible hearing loss, and an assault on our nervous systems, causing stress, sleeplessness, and hypertension. Not only for residents, but especially for the workers who typically operate these machines eight hours a day.
There is another, underappreciated hazard to workers using gas blowers. While pursuing their ludicrous practice of blowing leaves and debris into the street, they are risking their lives. I recently observed a worker outside my house who danced in front of an approaching SUV, oblivious to the oncoming traffic because of the blaring sound of his gas blower. I Googled a little and came up with a dozen incidents resulting in injuries and deaths to workers in this situation. Note that this is not an issue with battery-pack blowers, as their higher-pitched, less growly sound doesn't mask the sound of approaching traffic.
These outrageously loud machines have no place in a civilized community. By passage of this bill encouraging the replacement of gas blowers with battery-powered blowers, you will be offering a gift to everyone. Homeowners will have the right to pristinely manicured lawns. Their neighbors' rights for peace and quiet will be respected. Maintenance companies will have an effective tool that they can employ profitably and responsibly. And their workers will have the right to live productive, healthy lives. Thank you, Chairman Mendelson. I'll take your questions, please.