ORINDA -- Leaf blower foes blew up a whirlwind of debate, but in the end could not convince local leaders the landscaping devices should be silenced for good.

The City Council rejected a proposal from the group Quiet Orinda to ban blowers, saying Orinda's current noise regulations are sufficient. Council members also said it isn't clear that most residents support additional restrictions.

The decision, made in front of a packed library auditorium Tuesday night, followed an often passionate debate about whether leaf blowers' convenience outweighs their downside.

Meanwhile, Quiet Orinda's members say the battle is far from over.

The group, which spent nearly a year researching the issue, argued the devices are a constant source of noise and, because of the particulate matter they kick up, a health hazard.

Council members, however, said that although they appreciated Quiet Orinda's efforts, they did not believe a ban was necessary. They suggested the group seek relief elsewhere.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District may be willing to help address air pollution concerns, said Vice Mayor Victoria Smith. And residents worried about blower noise can stay indoors, install thicker windows or work with their neighbors on a solution, said Councilwoman Sue Severson.

"I think there should be other options considered before an outright ban on power equipment," Severson said.


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Although appreciative of the council's suggestions, Quiet Orinda founder Peter Kendall said Wednesday that he was disappointed officials did not at least agree to further study of the issue and see if a compromise could be reached.

He also expressed frustration with the format of Tuesday's meeting.

"Without a forum where we could interject, rebut, debate and establish a real dialogue, I just don't see how you can really hash out and get to the bottom of the real issue," Kendall said.

The group was given 15 minutes for a presentation, and more than a dozen supporters spoke during a public comment period that stretched nearly two hours. But those supporters were outnumbered by more than 20 other residents who called a ban an overreaction. Many ban opponents told the council it would be impossible to maintain their properties without leaf blowers.

"The city should not be solving personal problems with blanket laws affecting all Orindans," said Gerald Perry.

Kendall is already asking Quiet Orinda members what steps to take next. Ban supporter Maya McBride expects the group to be before the council again.

"Just like with anti-smoking campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s," she said, "I think this issue will be brought before our local politicians over and over again until they get it."

Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048.