car alarms and leaf blowers

I’m sitting here listening to a car alarm go off on the street in front of my apartment. What set it off? A loud car starting up next to it. It was not someone trying to break in, or someone trying to vandalize. It was just the noise and vibration of another car. Nearly every time a car alarm goes off, I go outside to see what caused it. From my third floor balcony, I can see the cars and I have never, ever, ever seen a car alarm going off for a valid security reason. The people with car alarms set them too sensitively, in hopes of protecting their precious vehicle from whatever imagined threats it faces. But what actually happens is that their car alarms disturb the peace and quiet of this neighborhood many times a day. This is not OK with me. Why can someone disturb me, and the entire neighborhood, for their own selfish reason? These cars are parked in the public right of way, an area that belongs to all of us, yet a small group of fearful and arrogant people controls this space and the entire auditory space of the neighborhood.

What is the solution? I think that car alarms should be reportable in the 311 app or by calling 311. A parking control officer would investigate. If a car alarm goes off three times within a month without reason, the person would be ticketed. If the car alarms goes off six times within a two month period without reason, the owner would be required to disable or remove the alarm.

Every day I hear leaf blowers. One day it is in my apartment complex, the next in the apartment complex across the street, the next along the street – and who knows on whose behalf leaves are being blown on these other days. This sound is too loud to sleep through, too loud to listen to music through, too loud to concentrate on any thought. It is obnoxious. And what purpose does it serve? The leaves are blown from one place to another, from which the wind then redistributes them to their original place. Most often they are blown from private property into the public right of way. Last I checked, that is littering, pure and simple. It is unusual in my observation for the leaves to actually be picked up and placed in a yard waste container. Mostly they are just blown into piles and left. It is a good make-work job, because a short while later they will need to be blown again.

I have talked to several property owners and managers, and asked them why they pay workers to blow leaves from one place to another. I have never yet found one that has actually watched the leaf blowing taking place and knows what happens to the leaves. They have just assumed that something useful is taking place.

What is the solution? Good old fashioned muscle power. Leaves should be swept up by that most primitive yet effective device, the broom. The leaves should be placed in yard waste containers immediately, or composted onsite if possible. During the “the claw” leaf season (in the City of Sacramento, the months of November through January), yard waste is allowed to be placed in the street, but not during other months, and not during this month of October. Right now from my balcony I can see three illegal piles of leaves, and I know there are several more around the corner. Tomorrow morning, there will be leaf blowers whining away, moving leaves hither and thither, making new piles that will redistribute themselves back along the street as if by magic, or wind.

I live close to a restaurant with outdoor seating, and it gets quite noisy at times. I live around the corner from what may be the second busiest street in midtown, 16th Street. Drunks from the nearby bars pass by at 1:30, shouting their revelry. The city is a noisy place, and I like living here where there is life. But none of this bothers me as much as car alarms and leaf blowers. They are noise without justification.

About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.
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2 Responses to car alarms and leaf blowers

  1. cath says:

    I often find myself having an internal debate about whether it is leafblowers or car alarms which is the greater abomination. I like to think there is a 10th circle of hell reserved for both. Both are egregious noise polluters, and neither serves any discernible purpose.

    I stumbled upon this post because a car alarm is torturing me right now, and whenever I hear one of these things, I think of the other, and the eternal debate is revived. I usually settle on leaf blowers, because they additionally pollute the air with exhaust fumes.

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