Leaf Blower Ordinance - Frequently Asked Questions

On June 13, 2005, the Palo Alto City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of a particular type of leaf blower in residential zones of the city. Following are some frequently asked questions regarding the ordinance:

Q. What exactly is banned?
A. Gas-powered leaf blowers may not be used in any residential zones by anyone including residents.

Q. How is "residential area" defined?
A. Residential zones are determined and defined in the Municipal Code.

Click on this link to see the map (use the back button on your browser to return to this page). http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/8188/

Q. What kind of leaf blowers may be used and when?

  • Residential zones
  • Electric leaf blowers (no internal combustion engines) may be used only during the following hours:
    Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm
    Saturday 10 am – 4 pm
    Sundays and Holidays not allowed* (see * below for list of holidays)
  • Non – residential zones
  • Electric and gas-powered blowers may be used only during the following hours:
    Monday – Friday 8 am – 6 pm
    Saturday 10 am – 4 pm
    Sundays and Holidays not allowed*
*"Holiday" means and includes New Year's Day (January 1), Martin Luther King Day (the third Monday in January), Washington's Birthday (the third Monday in February), Memorial Day (the last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4), Labor Day (the first Monday in September), Columbus Day (the second Monday in October), Veteran's Day (November 11), Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday in November), and Christmas Day (December 25).

Q. When did the ban become effective?
A. July 1, 2005

Q. How will the leaf blower ban be enforced?
A. Citizens who believe they observe a violation will be asked to call in to the Police Department on the non-emergency number at 650-329-2413. Citizens will be required to identify themselves, provide contact information, and answer a few questions about their observations. Anonymous complaints will not be investigated.

Q. Besides their name and contact information, what other specific information does someone making a complaint need to provide?
A. Persons calling or reporting online should provide the location of the violation including the exact address whenever possible, as well as any vehicle license plate number or name of the gardening company on the truck (when applicable). All of this information will be very important if a citation is required.

Q. How do I report a violation of the ban?
A. The best first step to take is to report neighborhood gas powered leaf blower violation to PALOALTO311. You can speak to the gardener or to the homeowner to see if they are aware of the ban. Reports of noise violations may be made by calling the Police Department at 329-2413.

Q. Where can I find the entire noise ordinance?
A. The entire ordinance is also made available online.

Q. Will there be any exemptions given to residents/homeowners?
A. No, all residents are also prohibited from using gas-powered leaf blowers.

Q. Are gas-powered generators permitted to provide current for electric blowers?
A. Yes, as long as they do not exceed the noise ordinance.

Q. Will gardeners still need to be certified to use electric blowers?
A. No.

Q. If the violator is not the resident (i.e., the gardener), who receive the citation, the violator or the resident?
A. If the violator is the resident/ homeowner they will receive the citation, but if the violator is the gardener then they will receive the citation.

Last Updated: May 6, 2010