In the competition for tourist attention, no place beats Sonoma when it comes to having Local Characters, who have outdone themselves in the latest dust-up over leaf blowers.
“The latest” started with a request by several hundred ordinary, sane, City residents who signed a petition asking City Council to ban leaf blowers, as many First-World cities have done.
For readers unfamiliar with them, leaf-blowers – especially gasoline-powered blowers — are ear-shattering, carbon-spewing machines that, with the squeeze of a trigger, create Category-3 storms of dust, dog-poop, pesticides, mold, pollen, bird-doo, zika and other patho/carcinogens, and occasionally leaves.
In trained hands, a gas-powered leaf blower can induce an abortion at fifty paces or hurl a child and her dog clear into Kansas. Poorly-paid operators are given ear and respiratory protection by their employer overlords but, alas, residents are not.
Thus, the aforesaid ordinary, sane residents asked City Council to ban the devices to protect Quality of Life in their small, densely-populated town where they pay stratospheric rents and where the median home price is $700,000 — even more with electricity or flush toilets.
Eventually, a few community-minded landscape gardeners met with a group of residents and crafted a compromise ordinance, forbidding the use of I.Q.-lowering gas blowers but allowing the quieter, less polluting electric-powered varieties. Council enacted it.
That’s when Local Characters – apparently believing that Tyrannical Government had gone too far – sprang into action. Though some reportedly live outside the City where there are far fewer leaf blowers and educated people per square mile, they nonetheless sounded the alarm, possibly thinking (wrongly) that gas-powered leaf blowers are protected by the 2nd Amendment.
They circulated their own petition demanding that City Council either (a) rescind the new ordinance, or (b) put the gas blower ban to an up-or-down vote of City residents.
[NOTE: If you are having trouble following this narrative, it is a sign of sound mental health; you need not ask your doctor if Thinking is safe for you.]
A newspaper photo showed the requisite number of petition signatures being delivered to City Hall on a miniature horse led by a minder in full Cliven Bundy regalia, reportedly assisted by a compatriot sounding the alarm on his VW to attract attention. It attracted police who, possibly believing they were witnessing a mental health episode, did not fire their weapons or issue a citation.
But Council refused to revoke the compromise ordinance. Instead, on November 8, City voters will decide whether to reject the ordinance that bans gas-powered leaf blowers but allows the less offensive electric models. Armageddon has arrived:
~ “Yes” on Measure V bans gas-powered leaf blowers.
~ “No” on Measure V keeps them roaring outside a window near you, warming the globe and filling lungs with clouds of carbon dioxide gas which, according to the NIH, is the most commonly used agent for euthanizing laboratory rats.
The loud and soft of it is that Local Characters – possibly backed by mow-&-blow Special Interests – want to open-carry gas leaf blowers and Take Sonoma Back(ward) Again. Said a low-education supporter, “It will be Huge. Huge!”
Still, local political observers think “Yes” could prevail. “Appearances aside, Sonoma has many sane people,” said one. “Most are too decent to use gas leaf blowers on their neighbors.”
But things are heating up: Pro-“Yes” yard signs are sprouting and somebody – Somebody – is already stealing them.