Orinda leaf-blower war goes national

An article in the New Yorker’s Oct. 25 edition takes aim at Orinda’s leaf-blower wars, and in keeping with the magazine’s often biting perspectives on the eccentricities of modern American life, there are more than a few zingers sprinkled throughout. A sampling:

So a lot of people here will give up their leaf blowers only when you pry them from their cold, dead hands (or, more precisely, from their Hispanic gardeners’ cold, dead hands).

“My husband gets so annoyed he runs out to the fence and blasts our electric leaf blower at the neighbors, and then I have to go unplug Dan.”

“Because we’re not living in Oakland ducking the next hail of bullets, there’s this idea that we’re just some fat-ass fussy busses, rich white people in the suburbs, worrying about a little noise,” he said. “But noise is very powerful. We’ve used Britney Spears songs on Guantánamo Bay prisoners.
“Children exposed to these noise bombs, it’s a disaster: impaired concentration, impaired sleep, inability to learn to read and speak. Children in loud, loud places like East Oakland are the ones who grow up saying, ‘Can I ax you a question?’ ”

The blower battle is particularly in-tense here because Orindans are proud of their city’s vaunted “semirural” character, and like to see themselves as homesteaders. If pressed, they may acknowledge that terrain bisected by a ten-lane highway — State Route 24 — and featuring two Starbucks and a Peets may not demand the grit of a Laura Ingalls Wilder.

In all seriousness, though, it’s a good piece on what happens when neighbors stop being neighborly in one of this region’s more affluent suburbs – definitely worth the read.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Katy K,

    I have never in all my life heard od anything as stubid and a total waste of time as worrying about the noise a leaf blower makes. Get a life. Have you evan stopped to realize how irresponsible your concerns are when there is so much turmoil in our world. Use your concerns in a more important way.