The we-make-money-from-fussy-over-maintenance-of-Newton-lawns coalition (otherwise known as the newtonleaves coalition) has a counter-proposal to the recently passed leafblower ordinance in the TAB. The essence of the proposal: let us use the gas-powered leaf-blowers, otherwise we’re just going to make noise and pollution running generators to power the batteries. Oh, and we’ll limit the hours from dawn-to-dusk, except on Sundays. (Failing to recognize the high concentration of Jews in Newton, hours on the Jewish Sabbath are just 30 minutes shorter than weekdays.)

If the landscapers want to re-open the discussion, let’s.

This whole conversation is sideways. We’re debating the means without discussing the ends.

It’s 2017. Carbon concentration is rising. Sea levels are rising. Ornamental lawns and pristine hardscapes are outmoded artifacts of a different time. Grasses (and their related weeds) are invasives. They support next to no biodiversity. They do very little to process carbon dioxide. And, now an entire industry has arisen to support the meticulous maintenance of these lawns as carpets. An entire, water- and chemical-intensive, carbon-spewing, noise-polluting, dust-stirring industry.

There is no justification for lawn-mowing and leaf-removal, certainly not at the scale that is practiced in Newton and similar upscale communities. So, there is no justification for the noise created by the activities. A couple of times a year, hire some folks to do manual raking.

Will there be job loss? Unfortunately, yes. Will that job loss hit workers of color hardest? Unfortunately, yes. So, let’s put a tax on lawn maintenance — water and services — to create a transition fund to help those folks train for other work.

But, also, keep your eye on the ball. The owners of the business are not worried about workers. They want to hit as many properties as possible in a day. Gas-powered leaf blowers are automation tools. Not exactly labor friendly.







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