The use of leaf blowers in the City of Portland is regulated through general operating restrictions and noise restrictions.
General Operating Restrictions
- Residential Zones - City code limits daytime use of leaf blowers to 7 am to 7 pm in all Residential Land Use Zones. Use at night in residential zones is prohibited.
- Other Zones - In all other zones, the operation of leaf blowers is permitted from 7 am to 9 pm. After 9 pm and up to 7 am, blower operators must meet the permitted sound levels established in the noise code and based on the specific zoning. Please note that it is very difficult to comply with the permitted sound levels after 9 pm, even using equipment on the certified list below.
Noise Restrictions –Effective September 1, 2009
The following noise restrictions apply to all leaf blowers operated within the time limits allowed under the general operating restrictions:
- From March 1 through October 31st of each year, leaf blowers which are on the City’s certified list of 65 dBA, or quieter, may be operated within the City of Portland.
- From November 1 through February 28th of each year, leaf blowers which are on the City’s certified list of 70 dBA, or quieter, may be operated within the City of Portland.
- Leaf blowers that are on the certified list of 65 dBA, or quieter, may be operated within the City of Portland year round.
The Noise Control Officer maintains a list of leaf blowers not exceeding the 65 dBA and 70 dBA sound level. The Noise Control Officer shall update the certified list at least annually, or as it is informed of other certified leaf blowers.
In July 2001, Portland City Council adopted code language to regulate noise resulting from the use of leaf blowers. At that time, the Noise Review Board received direction from the Council to:
- Develop a specific decibel level which leaf blowers must meet to be operated in the City to be phased in over a three year period.
- Review and possibly adjust the permitted decibel level every three years to adapt to improvements in available blower technology.
- Work with industry partners on an educational program to limit noise from operators inappropriately using blowers.
The Noise Review Board completed their work in 2003 and revised code language based on their efforts was approved by Council effective September 1, 2003. The code language includes specific decibel levels that leaf blowing equipment will need to meet effective August 1, 2006. To view the complete document, see Report to City Council on Leaf Blowers (11/29/02).
On August 1, 2006, leaf blower operators will be required to switch to equipment that meets a decibel level of 65 dBA at 50 feet from the unit from March 1st through October 31st. During the wet and heavy leaf season designated as November 1st through February 28th, leaf blowers will need to operate at 70 dBA at 50 feet.
These standards were developed and approved after a series of public meetings and take a similar approach to cities such as San Diego (CA), Palo Alto (CA), Sunnyvale (CA) and Montgomery County (MD), which have limits on noise produced by leaf blowers.