July 2, 2018 Testimony of Joey Spatafora

From the D.C. Council Committee of the Whole Hearing on July 2, 2018. testimony from D.C. resident Joey Spatafora:

Spatafora: Yes. Thank you, Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers, for the opportunity to speak about stress and the lower quality of life from gas leaf blowers. My name is Joey Spatafora, and I have three problems with gas-powered leaf blowers. They are in my bed, in my home office, and on my sidewalks. From my fourth-floor Connecticut Ave. apartment, I experience almost daily exposure to gas-powered leaf blowers, often throughout the day. I work from home as an engineer, and also spend time in loud computer server rooms. I've also played in a rock band, so I'm not stranger to loud noise. I have no problem with the sounds and traffic noise of Connecticut Ave. 

However, gas-powered leaf blower sound is different. It disrupts my work, concentration, and walks. Often, a gas-powered leaf blower disrupts my business conference calls, making it difficult to concentrate or even hear my coworkers on the phone. It's not unusual for my work day to begin with the sound of gas-powered leaf blowers before 8:30 in the morning. Operators circle the building across the street year round. Sometimes they even jar me awake. 

I've tried several solutions on my own. Number one, expensive noise-canceling headphones, but they almost amplify the leaf blowers because they blocked out most other sounds instead. Two, weather stripping to seal windows frames. This didn't work, because the sound penetrates windows, and I'm told walls as well. Three, I've contacted several noise-reduction companies to try to seal my windows. But this is neither feasible, nor affordable in a rental apartment. 

So, I resorted to auditory masking instead. I turn on the dishwasher, even if I have no dirty dishes. And I play loud rock music on YouTube. This tends to overcome the noise, but then it creates more noise. Keep in mind, I haven't even left my apartment yet. 

Now, let's go outside. On my daily walks around the block, I see gas leaf blowers on both sides of the street. I see leaf blowers on the sidewalk as pedestrians, dogs, and parents pushing strollers try to walk past them. And I see multiple teams of leaf blowers blow, creating the particular screaming drones of these machines from several directions at once. I hear them because the sound travels so far. Sometimes as many as three operators at once are blowing on the same property. 

We live in a dense, walkable city that is incompatible with these loud and hazardous machines that operate within earshot of our living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms, even on the fourth floor above one of our busiest streets. I urge you to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers in favor of safer, more considerate, battery-powered alternatives. Thank you, again, for this opportunity.