Post of the Week Created with Sketch. I called the police on my neighbors for violating lock-down rules

 

Four households of them. They all employ the same gardening crew. Commercial gardeners cannot operate under the new regime here in San Mateo County. Yet they do. I spoke with one of their employers and very politely asked that she call them up and tell them not to come. I even offered to mow her lawn for free! (I adore this particular neighbor) She requested that I ask some other employer (neighbor) to do so, saying that she does not want to cause trouble in the ‘hood. I told her that I am asking her because she is a lawyer and as such she must have no trouble whatsoever in saying, “No”, because what good is a lawyer that cannot say, “No”? She gave me their phone number. I said I will not call them because I have no relationship with them and I have tried talking to them but we have no language in common. Eventually she offered that she would tell them not to come because there was a neighbor who would call the police if they did. I do not know whether she followed through, but they arrived again on Saturday afternoon as they usually do. I immediately called the police. The dispatcher seemed annoyed, and told me that some sergeant somewhere would “prioritize” the complaint. The police never came. I totally understand the actual situation for the police – they will be accused of racism, undermining trust of communities at risk, all of that stuff. I suspect that the gardeners knew the police would not respond because they have been around awhile and know that the more petty of the laws do not apply to them. VDH has often described this situation and he is correct. We are a sanctuary. There is nothing illegal about being illegal – or not much, its sort of vague . . . The law is a legal fiction, depending on one’s ethnicity. The gardeners know the lay of the land.

To be honest, my problem with the gardeners does not relate to the virus. I have been known to exceed the only-within-5-mile-from-home restrictions on bike riding. Rather, I suspect I have a genetic predisposition (or something) that makes the sound of a leaf blower disabling for me. It drives me crazy! Immediately. I am trying to use the law to eliminate this blight from my locked-down existence. Continuing with the honesty, this group of gardeners is particularly unsympathetic, because I saw them pointing at me and laughing as I planted a lawn from seed, and another time when my damn mower would not start.

So what to do? I have contemplated filing a suit for trespass for the dust, leaves spores, mold, etc., that is deposited on my property that is the actual purpose (not side effect) of a leaf blower. I could call 911 for an obvious non-emergency. I have already (some years ago) petitioned my local government to restrict leaf blowers. It turns out thats racist!

It is bad enough to be ridiculed by gardeners for being an old white guy trying to start an old lawn mower. Now I feel like an old man shaking his fist at clouds demanding something impossible. Not good!

Published in Policing
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  1. DrewInWisconsin, Ham-Fisted Bu… Coolidge

    Is this satire? 🤨

    • #1
    • April 27, 2020, at 8:59 AM PDT
    • 21 likes
  2. Hoyacon Member

    Commercial gardeners cannot operate under the new regime here in San Mateo County.

    You could you briefly elaborate on this? Just trying to understand further.

    • #2
    • April 27, 2020, at 8:59 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DrewInWisconsin is done with t… (View Comment):

    Is this satire? 🤨

    I had the same question.

    • #3
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  4. Hoyacon Member

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin is done with t… (View Comment):

    Is this satire? 🤨

    I had the same question.

    I went with “no.” But maybe mask-wearing has affected my brain.

    • #4
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:10 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. AUMom Member
    AUMom Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Surely, you jest. 

    • #5
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:24 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Hoyacon Member

    AUMom (View Comment):

    Surely, you jest.

    Don’t call him . . . .

    See, it has affected my brain.

    • #6
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:25 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You called the police on your neighbor for having someone mow their lawn. Yet you offered to mow the lawn for your neighbor. Let that sink in.

    • #7
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:34 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
  8. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Commercial gardeners cannot operate under the new regime here in San Mateo County.

    You could you briefly elaborate on this? Just trying to understand further.

    No reason for the law was given. I can assume things, but they are assumptions. . . Exception for health/sanitary motivated gardening, whatever that is. That is all I know. The local free newspapers reported that this is very controversial. This is not satire! I just got off the phone with police dispatchers, turning in another group of gardeners.

    Update: commercial gardening is allowed here once again. Dispatcher stated that this law was only in effect for a week, and that she does not know why the change was not announced.

    This is somehow comforting, although I am writing this watching plumes of dust waft around settling on everything and listening to multiple leaf blowers. It is truly the bane of suburban living.

    • #8
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:35 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Retail Lawyer: Continuing with the honesty, this group of gardeners is particularly unsympathetic, because I saw them pointing at me and laughing as I planted a lawn from seed, and another time when my damn mower would not start.

    I’m sorry, but I’d laugh at you too. Listen to yourself.

    You know that you cannot stop someone running lawn equipment on their property, under normal circumstances. So you use this crisis to try to violate the natural rights of your fellow man. Do you call yourself conservative? If so, you should stop. You aren’t.

    • #9
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:38 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  10. DrewInWisconsin, Ham-Fisted Bu… Coolidge

    I have been doing a lot of spring lawn work during our shut-down. So have my neighbors. Several people in our neighborhood are putting in new gardens this spring. Yesterday one of the neighbors behind me was using his rototiller. Sure, loud, but good for him.

    I’m glad you’re not my neighbor.

    I am writing this watching plumes of dust waft around settling on everything and listening to multiple leaf blowers. It is truly the bane of suburban living.

    I’m guessing if they didn’t keep their lawns up, the local homeowner’s association would fine them. Would that make you happier?

    • #10
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:47 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is challenging on SO many levels. 

    What can you do when you hate the leaf blowers that everyone uses? Besides earplugs or noise cancellation, of course…

    Are you really OK calling the authorities to enforce stupid rules/laws?

    Do you really feel that blocking your neighbors from freely engaging in exchange with a contractor for services is justifiable?

     

     

    • #11
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:50 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  12. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I believe the Stay at Home order has affected this conversation. Heck, it may have actually been the cause of this conversation.

    • #12
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:54 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    No joke.

    Landscape and Gardening Services

    Routine landscaping, gardening and other commercial outdoor services that provide general upkeep are deemed not essential and are not permitted. This is a mandate under the County of San Mateo Shelter-in-Place Order and the Town cannot make exceptions. However, there are some outdoor services that would be considered essential and are permitted, including fire reduction work, maintaining growth along curbs and medians in order to ensure visibility along roadways and other tasks that are essential to the health and safety of the public. In addition, food cultivation is specifically exempted under the Order. To the extent that the gardening service is related to the sole source production of food for the residents in the premises it may be continued. 

    • #13
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:55 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Bob Thompson Member

    I was marveling at your post and thinking isn’t the fact that ‘The law is a legal fiction’ the only thing that makes it even interesting to be a lawyer. Then you got to the only thing that ever goes on in my neighborhood that irritates me, the noise from the leaf blower. What’s wrong with using a rake?

     

    • #14
    • April 27, 2020, at 9:58 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I, too, have been doing lots of work outdoors. We are having the longest, loveliest Spring in living memory, and I have been planting and tending and pruning, and I have my kids weeding and blowing and strimming…

    We have a leaf blower, but I use it for cleaning open areas around the house, not blowing leaves (we just mow and let ’em dissolve away). I also hire a commercial service that sprays for mosquitos (it also kills ticks and most other bugs) – that backpack aerosol unit is not just loud, but it also makes a weird droning noise. I LOVE not having mosquitos or ticks. Buzz, drone, and blast away!

    • #15
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:00 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. Hoyacon Member

    cdor (View Comment):

    I believe the Stay at Home order has affected this conversation. Heck, it may have actually been the cause of this conversation.

    I know it has everything to do with my participation.

    Heck, I’m even tempted to start venting about our local ordinance banning “commercial vehicles” from parking on the public streets.

    Look, there goes another white ladder van!

    • #16
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:07 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    I get the leaf blowers issue — they drive me nuts. Nothing like waking up on Saturday morning and hearing blowers going for the next 3 hours. The commercial guys should at least operate on weekdays from 8 to 5.

    • #17
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Commercial gardeners cannot operate under the new regime here in San Mateo County.

    You could you briefly elaborate on this? Just trying to understand further.

    No reason for the law was given. I can assume things, but they are assumptions. . . Exception for health/sanitary motivated gardening, whatever that is. That is all I know. The local free newspapers reported that this is very controversial. This is not satire! I just got off the phone with police dispatchers, turning in another group of gardeners.

    Update: commercial gardening is allowed here once again. Dispatcher stated that this law was only in effect for a week, and that she does not know why the change was not announced.

    This is somehow comforting, although I am writing this watching plumes of dust waft around settling on everything and listening to multiple leaf blowers. It is truly the bane of suburban living.

    Perhaps it’s time to get a leaf blower of your own. 

    I have some sympathy, those things are loud. And it’s not like the guys using them pass out ear protection for everyone nearby. 

    For whatever reason(s), Californians don’t do their own lawns. 

    • #18
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. Doug Watt Moderator

    As a former police officer this would be a very low priority call. I might drive by just to say I checked it out, but I would keep on driving. I might prioritize the call to make the drive by shortly before the Second Coming.

    • #19
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:18 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. Jdetente Member

    I cannot comprehend even contemplating calling the authorities on someone for having their gardeners work. Gardeners often operate on a shoestring budget. Plus, if they don’t have accounts to work, they don’t get paid. The workers often operate on the economic edges and need every dollar they can earn. If they don’t get work, they don’t get paid and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for putting them in even tougher economic circumstances. I understand hating the leaf blowers. I despise them…but frankly this is abusive.

    • #20
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:21 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  21. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer

    DrewInWisconsin is done with t… (View Comment):

    I have been doing a lot of spring lawn work during our shut-down. So have my neighbors. Several people in our neighborhood are putting in new gardens this spring. Yesterday one of the neighbors behind me was using his rototiller. Sure, loud, but good for him.

    I’m glad you’re not my neighbor.

    I am writing this watching plumes of dust waft around settling on everything and listening to multiple leaf blowers. It is truly the bane of suburban living.

    I’m guessing if they didn’t keep their lawns up, the local homeowner’s association would fine them. Would that make you happier?

    I’m not OK with my behavior. It is out of my character. I am ashamed of what levels I have stooped to. Really. That was the point of the post.

    By the way, a few weeks ago I fired up my 1951 rototiller and prepared the back yard for spring planting. I was considerate enough to time this so that I would not raise dust. It took an hour. Once a year. The gardeners in question take 1.5 hours for the four houses. Every week. Every Saturday. There are no leaves on the ground. There is no moisture in the ground, but there is dry dirt. Maybe its a California only problem – we are dry half the year. I have had to repaint an outside wall because a leaf blower blew stuff onto wet paint! So their activity is not confined to their own property. It is the absolute lowest hanging fruit to pick if you are concerned with particulate matter in the air, which the Bay Area Air Control District most definitely claims to be.

    • #21
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:22 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  22. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer

    DrewInWisconsin is done with t… (View Comment):

    I’m guessing if they didn’t keep their lawns up, the local homeowner’s association would fine them. Would that make you happier?

    No. Another’s misery does not please me. I am a lawyer, a “retail lawyer”. I have had so many cases of HOAs being sued, or suing a HO, that I personally would not be subject to one. There is no possible way a lawyer can please his client in an HOA situation. I became a petty rule slinger – this post is my sad confession – but I have my limits, and an HOA is a bridge too far.

     

    • #22
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:32 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  23. James Lileks Contributor

    Going forward, let’s clip this line and remove a few words.

    Commercial gardeners cannot operate under the new regime here in San Mateo County. Yet they do. So I called the police.

    Change that to:

    __________ cannot ______ under the new regime here in San Mateo County. Yet they do. So I called the police.

    Print it on a card, with ten numbers; have the police punch a number each time they respond. After ten punches you get an extra ration of chocolate and coffee.

    • #23
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:34 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  24. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m so glad I don’t live in the SF Bay Area any more.

    • #24
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:46 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Retail Lawyer: …sound of a leaf blower….

    Karen, is that you?

    • #25
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:53 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  26. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve never found leaf blowers helpful for rounding up leaves; once the Designated Leaf Compost Pile at the corner of the yard is six feet high it’s back to raking the damn things into piles and shoving them into plastic bags.

    That said, leaf blowers are great for blowing dirt that’s escaped your property onto the road back where it came from [your property].